United States District Court, D. Utah
ANNETTE R. WASSOM, an individual, Plaintiff,
GEORGE HENRY WRIGHT III, an individual, INTELLIGENT WEALTH, LLC, a registered Utah limited liability company, NUDGE, LLC, a registered Utah limited liability company, NEW PEAKS, LLC, a registered Utah limited liability corporation, Defendants.
M. Warner, Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
N. Parrish, United States District Court Judge
the Court is the IW Parties' Motion to Dismiss First
Amended Complaint (ECF No. 23) and Defendant Nudge, LLC's
Motion to Dismiss First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 24). For
the reasons set forth below, both motions are GRANTED.
Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed without prejudice.
Plaintiff has twenty-one days from the date of this Order to
file an amended complaint.
a Title VII case. Plaintiff Annette R. Wassom filed suit
against Defendants George Henry Wright III; Intelligent
Wealth, LLC (“IW”); Nudge, LLC; and New Peak,
LLC, claiming that she was sexually harassed by Wright.
Wassom alleges that she was an employee of IW, Nudge, and New
Peak and seeks to hold all three entities liable under Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act. Wassom also alleges that IW,
Nudge, and New Peak are jointly and severally liable because
they were partners in a joint venture, but in the event the
Court finds otherwise, Wassom asks the Court to “pierce
the corporate veil” of each entity to make them jointly
and severally liable. IW and Nudge have moved to dismiss
Wassom's Title VII claim and her claim to “pierce
the corporate veil.” Wright has moved to dismiss the
claims against him on the grounds that such claims are
redundant with those alleged against IW, Nudge, and New Peak.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
following facts are alleged in Wassom's “First
began dating Wright in November 2014. Am. Compl. ¶ 3.1.
The relationship involved ongoing sexual activity. Am. Compl.
¶ 3.2. While the relationship was ongoing, Wright hired
Wassom to work for him at IW on a part-time temporary basis.
Am. Compl. ¶ 3.3. IW markets the products and services
of New Peaks. Am. Compl. ¶ 3.4.
was hired to work at Nudge, an affiliate of New Peak, while
he was dating Wassom. Am. Compl. ¶ 3.5. When he was
hired by Nudge, Wright closed the offices of IW, sold
IW's furniture and equipment, fired most of the IW staff,
and headquartered his business activities in the Nudge
facility. Am. Compl. ¶ 3.6. At Nudge, Wright worked in
furtherance of the business activities of Nudge and New
Peaks. Am. Compl. ¶ 3.6. Nudge, New Peak, and IW did not
distinguish between themselves in marketing efforts and
public events. Am. Compl. ¶ 4.19C. Both Nudge and New
Peak have more than fifteen employees. Am. Compl. ¶
brought Wassom with him to work at Nudge, and Wassom worked
at Nudge for the benefit of Nudge and New Peaks. Am. Compl.
¶ 3.7. In July 2015, Wassom began working full-time at
Nudge as an executive assistant to Wright and two other Nudge
officers, David McCoy and Tammy Castro. Am. Compl. ¶
3.8. Wassom was promised a salary of $750.00 per week and
told that she needed to be in the office for work activities.
Am. Compl. ¶ 3.9. Wassom was told, presumably by a Nudge
employee, that other employees had been fired for not coming
into the office for work. Am. Compl. ¶ 3.10.
the course of her employment, Nudge set Wassom's work
hours, required her to track her time, and directed and
supervised her work performance. Am. Compl. ¶ 3.11-3.13.
Nudge supplied Wassom with equipment and office supplies, and
Wassom did not purchase any supplies for work-related use.
Am. Compl. ¶ 3.15-3.16. During the course of
Wassom's employment, Nudge and New Peaks were partners in
numerous ventures and both companies used Wassom's
services in furtherance of those ventures. Am. Compl. ¶
3.20. IW, Nudge, and New Peak all held Wassom out as their
employee when she dealt with others while planning public
events. Am. Compl. ¶ 4.19D.
the course of Wassom's employment, Wright made repeated
sexual demands of Wassom during work hours. Am. Compl. ¶
3.23. When Wassom spurned Wright's advances, he would
pressure her, indicating that he was the boss and that she
would still be paid for her time. Am. Compl. ¶ 3.24.
Wright flirted with Wassom and made sexual comments on a
daily basis. Am. Compl. ¶ 3.25. Wright made sexual
demands of Wassom about four times per week during business
hours. Am. Compl. ¶ 3.26. Wassom felt that engaging in
sexual activity with Wright was a condition of her employment
and that she could not refuse him. Am. Compl. ¶ 3.30.
their relationship, Wright and Wassom frequently argued about
Wassom's reluctance to engage in sexual activity during
work hours. Am. Compl. ¶ 3.32-3.33. After these
arguments, Wright used his position as Wassom's
supervisor to give her additional work. Am. Compl. ¶
3.33. Wright often implied that Wassom would advance in the
business so long as she continued with their relationship.
Am. Compl. ¶ 3.34.
was told, during the course of her employment, that Nudge and
New Peak reimbursed Wright for her salary. Am. Compl. ¶
3.35. Wassom was also told that she was working for the
“joint venture” undertaken by Nudge and New Peak.
Am. Compl. ¶ 3.35.
around November 3, 2015, after numerous sexual demands,
Wassom told Wright that she felt like she was being raped and
that she wanted to end their relationship. Am. Compl. ¶
3.36. On or around November 10, 2015, Wassom again told
Wright that she wanted to end their relationship. Am. Compl.
¶ 3.37. The next day, David McCoy, a Nudge officer,
fired Wassom. Am. Compl. ¶ 3.38.
after she was fired, Wassom confronted Wright about her
termination. Am. Compl. ¶ 3.39. Wright told Wassom,
“Of course the business and personal go together. How
could they not?” Am. Compl. ¶ 3.40.
has moved to dismiss Wassom's claims against it on the
grounds that it was not her employer for the purposes of
Title VII and that she has not alleged sexual harassment.
Wright has moved to dismiss Wassom's claims against him
on the grounds that he cannot be held liable under Title VII
because he was Wassom's supervisor. And IW has moved to
dismiss Wassom's claims against it on the grounds that it
does not meet Title VII's fifteen-employee requirement.
Finally, IW and Nudge both contend that Wassom's claim to
“pierce the corporate veil” is improper. The
parties' arguments are addressed below.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a defendant may
move to dismiss a claim when the plaintiff fails to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. The Court's
function on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is not to weigh potential
evidence that the parties may present at trial but to
“assess whether the plaintiff's complaint alone is
legally sufficient to state a claim for which relief may be
granted.” Dubbs v. Head Start, Inc., 336 F.3d
1194, 1201 (10th Cir. 2003) (quoting Sutton v. Utah State
Sch. for the Deaf & Blind, 173 F.3d 1226, 1236 (10th
court reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint presumes all
of plaintiff's factual allegations are true and construes
them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.”
Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1108 (10th Cir.
1991). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Plausibility, in the context of a
motion to dismiss, means that the plaintiff has alleged facts
that allow “the court to draw [a] reasonable inference
that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
Iqbal evaluation is a two-step analysis. First, the
court identifies “the allegations in the complaint that
are not entitled to the assumption of truth, ” which
includes allegations that are legal conclusions, bare
assertions, or merely conclusory. Id. at 679-81.
Second, the court considers the factual allegations that are
entitled to the assumption of truth “to determine if
they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.”
Id. at 681. If the allegations state a plausible
claim for relief, the plaintiff's claim survives the
motion to ...