Plaintiff-Samuel Riotte, Esq.
Defendant- Abigail Varga, Esq.
E. Walker, Justice, Superior Court.
Order addresses Defendant Flatbread Company's motion to
dismiss based upon Rule 12(b)(6) of the Maine Rules of Civil
reviewing [ ] a motion to dismiss, [the court] consider[s]
the facts in the complaint as if they were admitted."
Bonney v. Stephens Mem. Hosp., 2011 ME 46.116, 17
A.3d 123, 127, The court will "'examine the
complaint in the [*5] light most favorable to the plaintiff
to determine whether it sets forth elements of a cause of
action or alleges facts that would entitle the plaintiff to
relief pursuant to some legal theory."' Id.
(quoting Sounders v. Tisher, 2006 ME 94. ¶ 8,
902 A.2d 830, 832). '"Dismissal is warranted when it
appears beyond a doubt that the plaintiff is not entitled to
relief under any set of facts that he might prove in support
of his claim."' Id.
Maine Rules of Civil Procedure incorporate principles of
notice pleading. See e.g., Burns v. Architectural Doors
& Windows, 2011 ME 61. ¶ 2 U 19 A.3d 823, 829.
Rule 8 calls for "1) a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief and (2)
a demand for judgment for die relief which the pleader seeks,
" M.R, Civ, P. 8; see also Bean v. Cummings,
2008 ME 18, ¶ 8, 939 A.2d 676. 679(discussing
pleading requirements in light of recent United States
Supreme Court decisions, and noting that Rule 9(b) identifies
certain claims that require a heightened pleading standard
such as fraud or mistake), Notice pleading requires the
plaintiff to provide the opposing party with "fair
notice of the claim." Polk v. Town of Litbec,
2000 ME 152, ¶ 18, 756 A.2d 510, 514 [*61 (quoting
E.N. Nason, Inc. v. Land-Ho Dev. Corp., 403 A.2d
1173, 1177 (Me. 1979)).3*
that framework in mind, the analysis turns to the specific
count of the complaint.
attorneys for the parties have well and fully argued the
salient issues in their papers, which were explored at some
length by the court during oral argument. Defendant moves to
dismiss the Complaint based upon a pleading deficiency in
setting forth Ms. Troiano's WPA claim. More narrowly, the
argument concerns only the first prong of a WPA claim; to
wit, that the employee engaged in activity protected by the
WPA. Even more narrowly, the protected act in this case is
alleged to have been a report to Flatbread what the employee
reasonably believed was a violation of law.
end, there are two communications between Ms. Troiano and
Flatbread that are at issue. The court focuses on the
communication with Mr. Cancelliere, which as pled in
paragraphs 37 and 38. Flatbread bottoms its argument on
paragraph 38, which states as follows:
Toiano told Mr. Cancelliere to keep what she was said
confidential because she was worried that raising this issue
could negatively affect her employment status.
argues that this allegation not only fails to support a
protected "WPA" report but to the contrary
establishes that she did not want her employer to take any
action with respect to the report. The argument, while
creative, is somewhat overwrought and in the end,
38, if taken in a light most favorable to the non-moving
party, could as comfortably mean that Ms. Toiano did not want
her identity revealed in addressing what she believed was an
illegal practice so as to preserve her employment. Whether
that is true or not, is not the task before the court on a
12(b)(6) motion. That is qualitatively different from
Flatbread's characterization that the allegation must
mean, exclusive to all other reasonable interpretations in a
notice pleading context, that Ms. Troiano wanted to conceal
the illegal practice altogether and to affirmatively not have
Flatbread stop the practice. In light of the standards by
which such motions must be evaluated, the court disagrees and
denies the motion to dismiss.
Flatbread Company's motion to dismissed is DENIED.
Clerk is directed to enter this Order on the civil docket by
reference pursuant to ...