The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREENE
The complaint in this case arises out of the dismissal of members of the so-called White House Travel Office, which has the responsibility for arranging charter flights, accommodations, and related services for the White House Press Corps and other media personnel who travel with the President, the Vice-President, and the First Lady. Plaintiffs are former employees of the Travel Office;
defendants Harry Thomason and Darnell Martens are part-owners of an aviation consulting and charter firm, Thomason, Richland & Martens, Inc. ("TRM").
Plaintiffs allege that beginning in early 1993, Thomason and Martens attempted to win for TRM the Travel Office air charter business. The complaint asserts that as part of their plan the defendants sought to secure the dismissal of the Travel Office employees, first by discrediting them through false accusations of illegal activity and then by reporting these activities to top White House officials.
Plaintiffs point particularly to a memorandum drafted by Martens which Thomason forwarded to key White House personnel. This memorandum accused employees of the Travel Office of taking bribes and kickbacks from the airline then providing charter service for the Press Corps. Plaintiffs allege that Thomason approached First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and other White House and Administration officials, voiced these suspicions, and lobbied for their dismissal. Because of defendants' efforts, and in the wake of an emerging public scandal over possible corruption in the White House, plaintiffs were fired on May 19, 1993.
The complaint herein states two causes of action: (1) intentional interference with employment relationship; and (2) intentional infliction of emotional distress. The matter presently before the Court is defendants' motion to dismiss, plaintiffs' opposition, and defendants' reply. The Court held a hearing on the motion on March 21, 1997.
The standard to be applied in reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is well established. For purposes of determining whether plaintiffs have failed to state a cause of action, the factual allegations of the complaint must be taken as true, and ambiguities or doubts must be resolved in favor of the pleader. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 40 L. Ed. 2d 90, 94 S. Ct. 1683 (1972). Despite this liberal standard, the complaint must set forth sufficient information to suggest that there exists a recognized legal theory upon which relief may be granted. A court must dismiss a complaint where, assuming its factual allegations to be true, the plaintiffs have failed to establish a right to relief based upon those facts. Gregg v. Barrett, 248 U.S. App. D.C. 347, 771 F.2d 539, 547 (D.C. Cir. 1985). In that regard, the defendants must show that the plaintiffs can prove no set of facts in support of their claims which would entitle them to relief. In re Swine Flu Immunization Prods. Liability Litigation, 279 U.S. App. D.C. 366, 880 F.2d 1439, 1442 (D.C. Cir. 1989)(quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99 (1955)).
Interference with Employment Relationship
Plaintiffs' primary claim is that defendants interfered with their employment relationship with the White House. It is defendants' response that no cause of action for intentional interference with an employment relationship can be maintained because as "at-will" employees plaintiffs lack standing to bring such a claim.
A plaintiff seeking relief under District of Columbia law for intentional interference with employment relationship must show (1) the existence of an employment contract; (2) defendant's knowledge of the contract; (3) defendant's intentional procurement of the breach of this employment contract; ...