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Marshall v. Exelis Systems Corporation

United States District Court, D. Colorado

August 26, 2014

RASHANNA MARSHALL, Plaintiff,
v.
EXELIS SYSTEMS CORPORATION, and LAWRENCE LINDLOFF, Defendants.

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT EXELIS' MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S OUTRAGOUS CONDUCT CLAIM

CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO, District Judge.

In this employment discrimination action, Plaintiff Rashanna Marshall alleges that Defendants discriminated against her on the basis of race during her employment on Bagram Airfield, the largest military base in Afghanistan. This matter is before the Court on Defendant Exelis Systems Corporation's ("Exelis") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and Outrageous Conduct Claims. (Doc. # 47.) The Court previously granted in part that motion and dismissed Marshall's Section 1981 claims. (Doc. # 81.) For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies the balance of the motion, which asks it to dismiss Marshall's outrageous conduct claim.

I. BACKGROUND[1]

Marshall, an African-American female, worked for Exelis for five years, starting in 2006. Exelis is a Colorado corporation with its principal place of business in Colorado Springs Colorado, but employs over 7, 800 employees worldwide and performs numerous contracts for the United States government related to defense services. During her employment, Marshall, a United States citizen and resident of Texas, worked at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. During all times relevant to this action, Lindloff was a resident of Iowa and a United States citizen. (Doc. # 31 at 1-2.)

Marshall alleges that in the summer of 2011, she discovered that Defendants were discriminating against her and her African-American co-workers. She alleges that Defendants passed her and other African Americans over for job opportunities and provided them less favorable terms and conditions of employment than were provided to their similarly situated non-African-American counterparts. Marshall reported her concerns to her supervisor, Lindloff, and when he refused to remedy the problems, she reported her concerns to Exelis human resources and upper management. ( Id. at 1-2, 7-8.) Hours after meeting with upper management to discuss her concerns regarding race discrimination, Lindloff retaliated against Marshall by giving her a disciplinary write-up, in part because she "accused him of being a racist...." ( Id. at 8.) Marshall then contacted Exelis's human resources department located in Colorado Springs and reported that "Exelis was discriminating against her and others on the basis of race, and that she had been written up for expressing her opposition to race discrimination." ( Id. ) Marshall contacted human resources a second time to discuss her concerns of discrimination and retaliation. ( Id. )

On November 9, 2011, Marshall began to experience chest pains. She sought treatment at an on-base medical center, where a paramedic placed Marshall on bed rest pending further tests. The paramedic wrote a letter informing Exelis of Marshall's condition. Lindloff and another employee contacted the medical center to attempt to verify the veracity of this letter and demanded information on Marshall's medical condition. ( Id. at 9.)

On November 11, 2011, Lindloff fired Marshall. Following her termination, Lindloff and another Exelis employee attempted to obtain access to Marshalls' medical records in an effort to provide a post hoc justification for her termination; however, medical employees refused to provide that information. ( Id. at 8-12.)

Plaintiff filed the instant action, alleging race discrimination and retaliation under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as claims of outrageous conduct and intentional interference with contract and/or prospective business advantage under Colorado law. (Doc. # 31, at 13-23.) The Court previously granted in part Exelis's motion to the extent it asked for dismissal of Marshall's § 1981 claims. (Doc. # 81.) The Court now addresses the balance of Exelis's motion, in which it asks the Court to dismiss Marshall's Colorado state law claim for outrageous conduct. (Doc. # 47.)

II. DISCUSSION

Defendants move to dismiss Marshall's outrageous conduct claim, arguing that the claim fails as a matter of law because (1) "Colorado choice-of-law rules preclude the application of Colorado outrageous conduct tort law to govern the parties' relationship in Afghanistan"; and (2) "Exelis's due process rights would be violated if Colorado tort law applied here." (Doc. # 47 at 6.) The Court will address each contention in turn.

A. CHOICE-OF-LAW ANALYSIS

Federal courts exercising supplemental jurisdiction apply the substantive law of the forum state, including its choice-of-law rules. BancOklahoma Mortg. Corp. v. Capital Title Co., 194 F.3d 1089, 1103 (10th Cir. 1999). In tort cases, such as this one, Colorado's choice-of-law standard is the "most significant relationship" test, as articulated in the Restatement (Second) of the Conflict of Laws §§ 6, 145, 171 (1971) (the "Restatement"). AE, Inc. v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 168 P.3d 507, 508 (Colo. 2007). In applying that test, the Court analyzes the following contacts:

(a) the place where the injury occurred,
(b) the place where the conduct causing the ...

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