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Pecore v. Jennie-O Turkey Store, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

January 7, 2014

Luana Pecore, Plaintiff,
v.
Jennie-O Turkey Store, Inc., Defendant

Page 985

Bonnie M. Smith, Janet M. Olawsky, Matthew H. Morgan, Nichols Kaster, PLLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for Plaintiff.

Jillian Kornblatt, Ryan E. Mick, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for Defendant.

OPINION

Page 986

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

RICHARD H. KYLE, United States District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

In this action, Plaintiff Luana Pecore alleges her former employer, Defendant Jennie-O Turkey Store, Inc. (" Jennie-O" ), discriminated against her based on her sex and terminated her in retaliation for reporting health-code violations. In its Answer, Jennie-O asserts five state-law counterclaims against Pecore arising from her tenancy in Jennie-O's farmhouse after it

Page 987

had terminated her employment. Pecore now moves to dismiss the counterclaims for lack of jurisdiction. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant her Motion.

BACKGROUND

Jennie-O is a brand of turkey products owned by Hormel. Pecore worked as a farm manager for Jennie-O from 2004 through December 2012. As farm manager, she resided on a turkey farm owned by Jennie-O and cared for its turkeys. In June 2012, Pecore voiced concerns to her supervisor (Danny Thomas), the human resources department, and the chemical department about the chemicals used on the farm. She alleges that after her complaints, Thomas began a campaign of sexually discriminatory and retaliatory conduct toward her, including derogatory comments, unfounded performance warnings, and suspension, ultimately culminating in her termination on December 13, 2012.

In the instant action, Pecore alleges violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Minnesota Human Rights Act, the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Minnesota whistleblower statute. Jennie-O filed an Answer asserting five Counterclaims against Pecore, each stemming from her tenancy in Jennie-O's farmhouse: Breach of Contract (Counts I and II), Destruction of Real Property (Count III), Willful and Malicious Destruction of Leased Residential Property (Count IV), and Conversion (Count V).

Jennie-O alleges that Pecore failed to vacate the premises within 30 days of her termination, as required by her lease (" the Housing Agreement" ), despite the fact that it notified her that her Housing Agreement was terminated when it terminated her employment on December 13, 2012. It alleges Pecore remained in the house and continued to use utilities there until she vacated the premises on April 8, 2013. Upon reentry, Jennie-O allegedly discovered she had damaged the property, requiring extensive cleaning and repair. It contends that the damage was in retaliation for her termination and ...


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