ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO DISMISS
Aroostook Medical Center, Plaintiff, (hereafter referred to
as TAMC) has brought suit against Stephanie Graves,
Defendant, (hereafter referred to as Graves) to recover a
portion of monies paid to Graves in the form of a sign on
bonus and educational loan assistance. Graves timely answered
the complaint and also brought a counterclaim seeking damages
for loss of income and emotional distress arising from her
termination from employment. On December 1, 2017 TAMC filed a
Motion to Dismiss Graves' counterclaim.
Motion to Dismiss, TAMC asserts Graves' counterclaim is
moot due to Graves not complying with 5 M.R.S. § 4622 of
the Maine Human Rights Act and is barred from recovering
monetary relief. In her objection to the motion Graves
asserts she is not seeking redress under the Maine Human
Rights Act and instead asserts her claim for relief is based
on breach of contract and that her employment was terminated
review of the pleadings, the following facts are not in
dispute. TAMC extended Graves an offer of employment by a
Letter of Employment Offer dated July 21, 2015. Graves
accepted the offer and began employment on September 20,
2015. The employment agreement included a sign on bonus of
$15, 000, 00 and educational loan assistance of $18, 411.40.
The employment agreement further contained terms for
repayment of a portion of the sign on bonus and educational
loan assistance if employment was terminated within three
years and ten years respectively, On September 15, 2016 TAMC
suspended Graves' employment, and on September 30, 2016
TAMC terminated Graves' employment for cause. See
Complaint and Answer, paragraphs 1-18. 22, 24-26.
predicate to addressing TAMC's Motion to Dismiss is
determining what claim for relief is being made by Graves.
M.R.Civ.P. 8(a) states:
A Pleading which sets forth a claim for relief, whether an
original claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party
claim, shall contain (1) a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, and (2)
a demand for judgment for the relief which the pleader seeks.
Relief in the alternative or of several different types may
purpose of the rule is to give the defendant fair notice of
what the plaintiffs claim is and the grounds on which it
rests. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41. A complaint
should not be dismissed unless it appears to a certainty that
the plaintiff is not entitled to relief under any facts he
might prove to support his claim. 2 Harvey, Maine Civil
Practice, §8.2 at 358 (3d ed, 2015-2016).
does not assign a title to her counterclaim theories, such as
"breach of contract", "wrongful
termination", or "discrimination, " Rather,
Graves makes averments that generally explain the source of
stress causing her fo suffer from a disability, which she
identifies as Severe Adjustment Disorder with Disturbance of
Emotions and Conduct. Counterclaim paragraphs 3-6.
She further describes communications between her and TAMC
regarding the effect of the stress on her work performance.
Counterclaim paragraphs 7-10, 12. And Graves
specifically avers that she was "at all times capable,
with reasonable accommodations, of performing the essential
functions of her job." Counterclaim paragraph
13. But to ascertain what claim is being made, it is
helpful to identify those averments that describe what a
defendant did or failed to do that is
actionable. In her counterclaim, Graves makes two such
paragraph 14, Graves avers that TAMC failed to provide
accommodations and failed to allow her an opportunity to
undergo treatment. Counterclaim paragraph 14. And in
paragraph 15 Graves avers TAMC terminated her position as a
result of her disability.
in her counterclaim Graves avers the effect of the alleged
actions and the relief sought, specifically a loss of income
and emotional distress.
short, the claim being made by Graves in her counterclaim can
best be interpreted as a claim for wrongful employment
termination due to a disability. She describes her disability
and alleges TAMC terminated her position without making any
accommodations. 5 M.R.S. § 4572(1)(A) of the Maine Human
Rights Act deems it unlawful employment discrimination for an
employer to refuse to hire or discharge or otherwise
discriminate against an employee because of physical or
mental disability. Graves' counterclaim in all respects
appears to make a claim for employment discrimination as
defined by the Maine Human Rights Act.
Maine Human Rights Act precludes an award of civil penal
damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages or attorney
fees if a complaint has not been timely filed with the Maine
Human Rights Commission. 5 M.R.S. § 4622(1) states:
Attorney's fees under section 4614 and civil penal
damages or compensatory damages and punitive damages under
section 4613 may not be awarded to a plaintiff in a civil
action under this Act unless the plaintiff alleges and
establishes that, prior to the filing of the civil action,