E. Folcarelli, Esq. For Plaintiff:
Matthew R. Plain, Esq.; Kristen M. Whittle, Esq. For
matter is before the Court on Defendant Child and Family
Services of Rhode Island's (CFS) Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff John Ferreira's (Mr. Ferreira or Plaintiff)
Amended Complaint. CFS argues that Mr. Ferreira's Amended
Complaint should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) due
to his failure to state a claim for which relief may be
granted. For the reasons articulated more fully below,
CFS's Motion to Dismiss is granted and Mr. Ferreira's
Amended Complaint is dismissed with prejudice. Jurisdiction
is pursuant to Super. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).
August 3, 2017, Mr. Ferreira filed his original complaint
alleging claims purportedly founded in gender-based hostile
work environment, age and gender discrimination, defamation,
false light and wage theft. Orig. Compl. ¶¶ 22,
24-25. Subsequently, on November 20, 2017, CFS moved to
dismiss the original complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1)
based on jurisdictional grounds and Rule 12(b)(6) for failure
to state a claim for which relief can be granted. In a
written decision issued on February 15, 2018, this Court
dismissed Mr. Ferreira's original complaint with leave to
amend within twenty days from the date of that
decision. The decision set forth the fundamental
pleading requirements of the claims alleged by Mr. Ferreira
and why his original complaint was deficient. The Court held
that, although it had subject matter jurisdiction to consider
Mr. Ferreira's discrimination claims arising under G.L.
1956 § 42-112-1, the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act of
1990,  the original complaint failed to provide a
modicum of facts to support the allegations made as they
related to Mr. Ferreira's claims of gender-based hostile
work environment, gender and age discrimination, defamation,
false light and wage theft.
the Court's decision, Mr. Ferreira filed his Amended
Complaint on March 5, 2018. The Amended Complaint alleged
claims purportedly founded in defamation, false light,
constructive discharge, disparate treatment based on gender
and age, and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair
dealing. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 26-29. CFS again moved to
dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim
for which relief can be granted. On May 7, 2018, the Court
heard oral arguments and granted CFS's motion to dismiss
from the bench as it related to Mr. Ferreira's claims of
defamation, including libel and slander, false light and
breach of the covenant of good faith and fair
dealing. The Court reserved its judgment as to Mr.
Ferreira's claims of gender and age discrimination.
the procedural posture of the case in mind, the following
facts are derived from the Amended Complaint, the allegations
of which are taken as true for the purposes of evaluating the
pending motion to dismiss. See Ruivo v. Wells Fargo Bank,
N.A., 766 F.3d 87, 90 (1st Cir. 2014). The Amended
Complaint alleges that Mr. Ferreira, a male over the age of
forty, was employed by CFS for nine years prior to this
controversy. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 2, 4. Mr. Ferreira
alleges that previous to the disciplinary meeting at issue in
this case, he never had a negative evaluation during the
years he worked at CFS. Id. at ¶ 5. The Amended
Complaint also alleges that a "young female
clinician" (the Clinician) was hired by CFS in the
summer of 2016. Id. at ¶ 6. The Amended
Complaint states that the Clinician "was just out of
school and not experienced in the care of [CFS]
clients." Id. at ¶ 9. Next, the Amended
Complaint alleges that the Clinician "undermined the
Plaintiff" and "accused the Plaintiff of
inappropriate communication and incompetence."
Id. at ¶¶ 10, 11.
receipt of the Clinician's accusations, CFS summoned Mr.
Ferreira to a disciplinary meeting where he was presented
with the Clinician's statements and where Mr. Ferreira
alleges CFS "exaggerated the Plaintiffs [sic] work
history and rendered misleading descriptions of long prior
work events that the Plaintiff had never been disciplined or
warned about." Id. at ¶¶ 13, 14. Mr.
Ferreira alleges that he was presented with a "last
written warning, " which he refused to sign.
Id. at ¶ 15. Subsequently, Mr. Ferreira
resigned. He attempted to rescind his resignation within
hours of tendering it but the Amended Complaint alleges that
CFS refused to accept Mr. Ferreira's rescission, even
though, he alleges, CFS received the resignation and
rescission at the same time. Id. at ¶¶ 19,
24. Mr. Ferreira alleges that he suffered stress,
embarrassment and financial hardship, and sought relief from
his physician for the stress related to these incidents. The
physician also "placed the Plaintiff on stress
leave." Id. at ¶¶ 21- 23. Based upon
these allegations, Mr. Ferreira asserts that CFS's
actions constituted age and gender discrimination, in
violation of G.L. 1956 §§ 28-5-1 et seq.,
the Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act (RIFEPA) and
§ 42-112-1, the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act of 1990
(RICRA). He also alleges, in a separate count, constructive
STANDARD OF REVIEW
12(b)(6) and Rule 8(a)
sole function of a motion to dismiss is to test the
sufficiency of the complaint[.]"' Audette v.
Poulin, 127 A.3d 908, 911 (R.I. 2015) (quoting
Ho-Rath v. R.I. Hosp., 115 A.3d 938, 942 (R.I.
2015)). In testing the complaint's sufficiency, the
Court's "review is confined to the four corners of
that pleading, " id. at 911 (citation omitted),
and the Court "'assumes the allegations contained in
the complaint to be true and views the facts in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff."' R.I.
Emp't Sec. Alliance, Local 40, S.E.I.U., AFL-CIO v.
State, Dep't of Emp't & Training, 788 A.2d
465, 467 (R.I. 2002) (hereinafter R.I. Emp't)
(per curiam) (quoting St. James Condo. Ass'n v.
Lokey, 676 A.2d 1343, 1346 (R.I. 1996)). Phrased another
way, "'[w]hen ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the
[Court] must look no further than the complaint, assume that
all allegations in the complaint are true, and resolve any
doubts in a plaintiff's favor."' Pellegrino
v. R.I. Ethics Comm'n, 788 A.2d 1119, 1123 (R.I.
2002) (quoting R.I. Affiliate, ACLU, Inc. v.
Bernasconi, 557 A.2d 1232, 1232 (R.I. 1989)); see
also Palazzo v. Alves, 944 A.2d 144, 149 (R.I. 2008).
Accordingly, a motion to dismiss "should not be granted
'unless it appears to a certainty that the plaintiff
will not be entitled to relief under any set of facts which
might be proved in support of [its] claim."'
R.I. Emp't, 788 A.2d at 467 (internal
alterations omitted) (quoting St. James Condo.
Ass'n, 676 A.2d at 1346).
Island Rules of Civil Procedure 8(a) sets forth the minimum
requirements of a complaint. Our Rhode Island Supreme Court
has declared that "[a] pleading need not include
'the ultimate facts that must be proven in order to
succeed on the complaint" or "set out the precise
legal theory upon which his or her claim is based.'"
Gardner v. Baird, 871 A.2d 949, 953 (R.I. 2005)
(quoting Haley v. Town of Lincoln, 611 A.2d 845, 848
(R.I. 1992)). Instead, the complaint must set forth a modicum
of information to satisfy the requirements of Rule 8. The
Court's consideration of a motion to dismiss is as
[The Court] require[s] more than conclusions or subjective
characterizations. [Our jurisdiction has] insisted on at
least the allegation of a minimal factual setting. It is not
enough to allege a general scenario which could be dominated
by unpleaded facts . . . . Therefore, although [the Court]
must ask whether the 'claim' put forward in the
complaint is capable of being supported by any conceivable
set of facts, [the Court] insist[s] that the claim at least
set forth minimal facts, not subjective characterizations, as
to who did what to whom and why. Dewey v. Univ. of
N.H., 694 F.2d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 1982).
when this Court considers a motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim, it remains cognizant that "one drafting a
compliant [sic] in a civil action is not required to draft
the pleading with a high degree of factual specificity."
Hyatt v. Vill. House Convalescent Home, Inc., 880
A.2d 821, 824 (R.I. 2005) (citing Bragg v. Warwick
Shoppers World, Inc., 102 R.I. 8, 12, 227 A.2d 582, 584
(1967). "That is not to say, however, that the drafter
of a complaint has no responsibilities with respect to
providing some degree of clarity as to what is alleged."
Butera v. Boucher, 798 A.2d 340, 353 (R.I. 2002).
Rather, Rule 8(a) requires that ...