United States District Court, District of Columbia
Gennaro Mattiaccio, II, Stafford, VA, pro se.
Emily C. Harlan, Nixon Peabody, L.L.P., Washington, DC, for Defendants.
COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY, District Judge.
Plaintiff Gennaro Mattiaccio filed suit against his former employer DHA Group, Inc., David Hale, and Ami Getu (collectively " Defendants" ), alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and accusing the Defendants of defamation. Compl., ECF No. , ¶¶ 31-64. The claims purportedly arise out of the post-employment background check performed on the Plaintiff and his subsequent termination. Presently before the Court is the Defendants'  Motion to Dismiss Count Three of the Complaint, seeking to dismiss the Plaintiff's defamation claim. Based on the pleadings  and the relevant legal authorities, the Court agrees that Count Three of the Complaint fails to state a claim for relief. Accordingly, the Defendants'  Motion to Dismiss Count Three of the Complaint is GRANTED. Count Three of the Complaint is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE and the Plaintiff will be granted leave to amend his Complaint.
In relevant part, the Complaint alleges that the Plaintiff was hired as the Lead Proposal Manager for DHA Group in July 2011. Compl. ¶¶ 10-11. On two occasions in May 2012, the Plaintiff met with Defendant Ami Getu, the Manager of Human Resources for DHA Group, to discuss " a complaint against personnel at the company." Id. at ¶¶ 20-21. The afternoon following the second meeting, the Plaintiff alleges he was placed on indefinite administrative leave. Id. at ¶ 22. On May 30, 2012, DHA Group terminated the Plaintiff's employment on the grounds he was " far less than candid with DHA with respect to important and relevant aspects of your background and experience." Compl., Ex. E (5/30/12 Termination Ltr) at 1. Specifically, the termination letter and associated report transmitted to the Plaintiff asserted that (1) the Plaintiff failed to disclose three prior convictions, including one for assault and battery; (2) there were inconsistencies between versions of the Plaintiff's resume provided to DHA and stored on the Plaintiff's DHA Group-issued laptop; and (3) pornographic materials, some of which involved children, were recovered from the Plaintiff's DHA Group-issued laptop. Id.; Compl., Ex. F (Prelim. Invest. Report). The Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants knew the Plaintiff had never been convicted of assault and battery and that the Plaintiff never maintained child pornography on his computer, but intentionally " caus[ed] the report to be published." Compl. ¶ 50. In terms of publication, the Plaintiff alleges only that " [on] personal knowledge, the letter was published to numerous individuals within DHA Group." Id. at ¶ 25.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides that a party may challenge the sufficiency of a complaint on the grounds it " fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." A complaint must contain " a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief," Fed.R.Civ.P. (8)(a), " in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (citation omitted). Although " detailed factual allegations" are not necessary to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a plaintiff must furnish " more than labels and conclusions" or " a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Id. " Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (citation omitted). Rather, a complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations that, if accepted as true, " state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955. " A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.
When evaluating a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the district court must accept as true the well-pleaded factual allegations contained in the complaint. Atherton v. D.C. Office of Mayor, 567 F.3d 672, 681 (D.C.Cir.2009). In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court may consider " the facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by reference in the complaint," or " documents upon which the plaintiff's complaint necessarily relies even if the document is produced not by [the parties]." Ward v. D.C. Dep't of Youth Rehab. Servs., 768 F.Supp.2d 117, 119 (D.D.C.2011) (citations omitted). " At the motion to dismiss stage, counseled complaints, as well as pro se complaints, are to be ...