United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
DOWDELL, CHIEF JUDGE
the Court is Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 4).
Defendants argue that Plaintiff’s complaint should be
dismissed in its entirety pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)
for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. For the reasons set out below, Defendants’
motion to dismiss is hereby granted.
Bryan Ramer, who proceeds pro se, brought this action after
his employer, Defendant Air Comfort, Inc., fired him from his
job as a journeyman HVAC service technician in October 2015.
The allegations put forth in his complaint can be summarized
Comfort, an HVAC service company, hired Mr. Ramer as a
technician in 2007, and he worked diligently over the next
several years, leading to two pay raises. Then, in 2013, Air
Comfort ran into financial trouble and, according to Mr.
Ramer’s complaint, started “defrauding customers
when the opportunity presented itself.” Defendant
Donald Doerr, Air Comfort’s service manager,
“pressured” Mr. Ramer to “be part of it,
” but Mr. Ramer “continually refused, ”
leading to “a constant battle between Ramer and
Doerr.” (Doc. 1 at 2).
2015, Mr. Ramer suffered a hip injury that required surgery,
which he underwent in June of that year, defraying the cost
via a substantial claim on Air Comfort’s group
insurance policy. (Doc. 1 at 3, 9). He returned to work in
September of that year but was fired shortly thereafter.
Management told Mr. Ramer that he was being terminated for
harassing female customers while on service calls, an
accusation that he denied. (Doc 1 at 9–10). Mr. Ramer
asked to see documentation of the complaints but was refused
(Doc. 1 at 7). He was 57-years old at the time.
Ramer accuses Air Comfort of fabricating the customer
complaints as a pretext for firing him. (Doc. 1 at 2, 4). Air
Comfort really fired him, he claims, because it wanted to get
rid of an employee whose honesty was getting in the way of
its fraudulent business practices and because he was older
and the company wanted to reduce its insurance costs. (Doc. 1
at 2–3). Mr. Ramer’s complaint further alleges
that Air Comfort’s management “maliciously”
publicized the grounds for his firing by “leaking their
fabricated story out where it could be repeated in the parts
houses” and “spreading the story among his peers
and friends in the hvac trade.” (Doc. 1 at 4). In doing
so, the company hampered his ability to find work and
generally damaged his reputation, he claims.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require a plaintiff to
include in his complaint “a short and plain statement
of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Defendants argue that he
has failed to meet this burden and move to dismiss pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
Court’s function on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is not to
weigh the evidence that the parties might present at trial,
but to assess whether the plaintiff’s complaint is
legally sufficient to state a claim for which relief may be
granted. Brokers’ Choice of Am., Inc. v. NBC
Universal, Inc., 757 F.3d 1125, 1135 (10th Cir. 2014). A
complaint is legally sufficient only if it contains factual
allegations such that it states a claim to relief that
“is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). Where the well-pleaded facts permit the court to
infer merely the possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged, but it has not shown, that the pleader is entitled
to relief. Id. at 679.
assessing a claim’s plausibility, the Court must accept
all well-pleaded facts as true and view them in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff. Brokers’
Choice, 757 F.3d at 1165. The Court is not bound,
however, to accept an allegation as true when it amounts to
no more than a legal conclusion masquerading as fact.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Court is mindful that Mr. Ramer proceeds pro se. While pro se
pleadings must be liberally construed and held to less
stringent standards than pleadings drafted by lawyers,
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), a
district court should not assume the role of advocate.
Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir.
1991); United States v. Pinson, 584 F.3d 972, 975
(10th Cir. 2009); Garret v. Selby Connor Maddux &
Janer, 425 F.3d 836, 840 (10th Cir. 2005). Moreover,
even pro se plaintiffs are required to comply with the
“fundamental requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil
and Appellate Procedure” and substantive law, and the
liberal construction to be afforded does not transform
“vague and conclusory arguments” into valid
claims for relief. Ogden v. San Juan County, 32 F.3d
452, 455 (10th Cir. 1994).
Ramer’s complaint can be reduced to three basic claims:
a federal claim for age discrimination, and two state
claims-one for wrongful termination and another for
defamation. (Doc. 1 at 2). Because the federal claim serves
as the foundation for the ...