"A complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley, 355 U.S. at 45-46. To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations to establish a right to relief. See Gregg, 771 F.2d at 547.
"In libel and slander suits the time and place of the publication should be specifically stated in the complaint." 5 Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1309 (1990). "The use of in haec verba pleadings on defamation charges is favored in the federal courts because generally knowledge of the exact language used is necessary to form responsive pleadings." Asay v. Hallmark Cards, Inc., 594 F.2d 692, 699 (8th Cir. 1979).
Plaintiff alleges that defendant falsely accused him of injuring the company's interests and that defendant must have communicated its false reason for demanding his resignation to its employees and to potential employers. Plaintiff does not state the time and place of the alleged communication to employees and others. Moreover, plaintiff does not set forth the content of the alleged statement, the speaker, or the listener. Thus, plaintiff's defamation claim is based on inference and conjecture without supporting factual allegations. Given the heightened pleading standard in defamation actions, plaintiff's allegations are insufficent to state a claim. See Ridgewell's Caterers v. Nelson, 688 F. Supp. 760, 763 (D.D.C. 1988).
B. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
Under District of Columbia law, "intentional infliction of emotional distress consists of (1) extreme and outrageous conduct on the part of the defendant which (2) intentionally or recklessly (3) causes the plaintiff severe emotional distress." Howard Univ. v. Best, 484 A.2d 958, 985 (D.C. 1984) (citations and quotation marks omitted). To state a claim, plaintiff must allege conduct on the part of defendant that is "so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency." Id.; accord Cunningham v. United Nat'l Bank of Washington, 710 F. Supp. 861, 863-64 (D.D.C. 1989).
In Howard University v. Best, 484 A.2d at 986, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals stated that "actions which violate public policy may constitute outrageous conduct sufficient to state a cause of action for infliction of emotional distress." The plaintiff in Best produced evidence to show that her supervisor sexually harassed her by repeatedly touching her, propositioning her, and making vulgar comments to others about her. The Best court noted that sexual harassment violates District of Columbia public policy. The court then held that defendant's alleged conduct was sufficiently outrageous to be actionable as intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Every violation of District of Columbia public policy does not constitute "extreme and outrageous conduct." See Karp v. Roach, 1990 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17618, at *13-14 (D.D.C. Dec. 24, 1990). The actions that plaintiff alleges in this case are distinguishable from the type of personally offensive conduct before the court in Best. Plaintiff's allegations may indicate a violation of public policy with regard to age discrimination, but they do not rise to the level of outrageousness necessary to state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
C. Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing
District of Columbia law recognizes an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in every contract. Hais v. Smith, 547 A.2d 986, 987-88 (D.C. 1988). "This duty prevents a party from evading the spirit of the contract, willfully rendering imperfect performance or interfering with the other party's performance." Id.
Defendant argues that plaintiff's employment reverted to at-will status following the 180-period, and therefore that plaintiff cannot assert a claim for breach of an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
Defendant overlooks plaintiff's allegations regarding HK's actions during the 180-day period. Plaintiff claims that HK violated the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing "by failing to provide him with work and work surroundings commensurate with his status," thereby undermining his ability to perform his obligations under the contract. (Complaint para. 55.) That allegation suffices to state a claim for breach of an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing during the guaranteed term of the contract.
The Court grants defendant's motion to dismiss as to plaintiff's claims for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Consistent therewith, plaintiff's claims for compensatory and punitive damages for emotional distress, mental anguish, and injury to reputation are dismissed. The Court denies defendant's motion to dismiss as to plaintiff's claim for breach of an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. An appropriate Order accompanies this Opinion.
For the reasons stated in the accompanying Opinion, it hereby is
ORDERED, that defendant's motion to dismiss is denied with regard to plaintiff's claim for breach of a covenant of good faith and fair dealing. It hereby further is
ORDERED, that defendant's motion to dismiss is granted with regard to plaintiff's claims of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and the corresponding claims for compensatory and punitive damages for emotional distress, mental anguish, and injury to reputation.