United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM L. OSTEEN, Jr., District Judge.
Plaintiff DiJon Maurice Mobley ("Plaintiff"), proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint on February 18, 2014, alleging that his employer and other individuals (1) violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, codified as amended at 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. ("ADA"); (2) committed libel and slander during an administrative hearing; (3) falsified federal documents; (4) conspired to falsify those documents; and (5) harassed Plaintiff by threatening to inflict bodily harm. (Complaint ("Compl.") (Doc. 1).) In his Complaint, Plaintiff names five defendants: (1) AAA Cooper Transportation ("AAA Cooper"); (2) Steve Immel; (3) Chris Dugan; (4) Wynn Beasley; (5) U.S. HealthWorks; and (6) Dr. Victor Korang (collectively "Defendants"). (Id.)
Presently before this court are a number of motions filed by the parties, and due to the number and nature of these filings, this court takes time to explain the various filings in detail.
Defendants Immel and Dugan have each made a limited special appearance to file separate Motions to Dismiss for Insufficient Service of Process pursuant to Rule 12(b)(5) and for Failure to State a Claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Docs. 15, 17.) Plaintiff has responded to each motion (Docs. 23, 24), and Defendant Immel and Dugan have each filed a reply. (Docs. 31, 32.) These motions are now ripe for adjudication.
Defendant AAA Cooper has made a limited special appearance to file a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2), for Insufficient Service of Process pursuant to Rule 12(b)(5), and for Failure to State a Claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil procedure. (Doc. 27.) A Roseboro letter was sent to Plaintiff on May 27, 2014, warning him of the consequences of not responding to this dispositive motion. (Doc. 30.) Nonetheless, Plaintiff has not responded to Defendant AAA Cooper's Motion to Dismiss. Despite the lack of response, this court considers this motion ripe for adjudication.
Defendants U.S. HealthWorks and Korang filed an answer to Plaintiff's Complaint. (Doc. 14.) These Defendants then filed a joint Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 33.) Again, a Roseboro letter was sent to Plaintiff on July 3, 2014 (Doc. 35), and Plaintiff has not responded to this Motion to Dismiss. This motion is now ripe for adjudication.
This court has considered each motion filed by the parties, and for the following reasons, this court will grant the various Motions to Dismiss filed by the Defendants. Accordingly, this case will be dismissed.
There are two other matters before this court that require attention. First, before Defendant AAA Cooper filed its Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiff entered a Motion for Default Judgment against Defendant AAA Cooper. (Doc. 26.) This court recognizes that Defendant AAA Cooper filed its motion well after the extended deadline allowed by the Magistrate Judge (see Order (Doc. 12) at 2), but this court nonetheless finds that Defendant AAA Cooper cured the default by filing its Motion to Dismiss before this court entered default. Although this court has an interest in preventing delays and enforcing filing deadlines, this court is hesitant to enter default, as the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure enforce "the sound public policy of deciding cases on their merits, " see Reizakis v. Loy, 490 F.2d 1132, 1135 (4th Cir. 1974); see also Colleton Preparatory Acad., Inc. v. Hoover Universal, Inc., 616 F.3d 413, 417 (4th Cir. 2010), and as a result, "default judgments are not favored, " see Trueblood v. Grayson Shops of Tenn., Inc., 32 F.R.D. 190, 195-96 (E.D. Va. 1963). Therefore, this court will not enter a default judgment against Defendant AAA Cooper, and Plaintiff's motion asking this court to do so will be denied.
Second, Defendant Beasley has not responded in any way to Plaintiff's Complaint. A summons for Defendant Beasley was issued on February 18, 2014 (Doc. 3), and then reissued on May 12, 2014 (Doc. 25). On January 27, 2015, this court gave notice that, even though Defendant Beasley had not filed a motion to dismiss, it was contemplating whether the claims against Defendant Beasley could be dismissed for the same reasons put forth by the other Defendants' Motions to Dismiss. (Doc. 36.) Plaintiff responded on February 6, 2015, pointing this court to Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment without any further explanation. (Doc. 37.) This court is somewhat perplexed by Plaintiff's response as Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment mentions Defendant Beasley but only asks that default be entered against Defendant AAA Cooper. (See Pl.'s Mot. for Default J. (Doc. 26) at 1, 3.) As a result, Plaintiff has not responded with reason why this court should not consider dismissing the claims as to Defendant Beasley.
In considering how to address the case as to Defendant Beasley, this court recognizes the need to avoid logically inconsistent judgments, such as the claims as to one defendant being dismissed but default being entered to a closely-interrelated defendant. See Jefferson v. Briner, Inc., 461 F.Supp.2d 430, 433-39 (E.D. Va. 2006) (citing Frow v. De La Vega, 82 U.S. (15 Wall.) 552, 554 (1872); United States ex rel. Hudson v. Peerless Ins. Co., 374 F.2d 942 (4th Cir. 1967) (finding that when co-defendants are alleged to be "closely interrelated, " and one of the multiple defendants "establishes that plaintiff has no cause of action or present right of recovery, the defense generally inures also to the benefit of a defaulting defendant" (internal quotations marks omitted)). Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Beasley are "closely interrelated" with those made against Defendant Immel and Defendant AAA Cooper. (See Compl. (Doc. 1) at 3 (alleging that Defendant Beasley, in his role as "agent" of Defendant AAA Cooper, prevented Plaintiff from receiving permanent work status and medical benefits).) Therefore, this court will consider whether all claims should be dismissed as to Defendant Beasley as well.
I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
At the motion to dismiss stage, this court is to examine the pleadings and consider all facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Doing so, this court finds that Plaintiff was employed as a probationary truck driver by Defendant AAA Cooper. Defendant Korang, a doctor affiliated with Defendant U.S. HealthWorks, conducted Plaintiff's pre-employment physical examination on March 27, 2012. At that time, Plaintiff was diagnosed with potential sleep apnea and told to seek out a sleep study to confirm the diagnosis. Defendant Korang said he would not provide the medical examiner's certificate or "DOT medical card" until Plaintiff had the sleep study conducted. (Compl. (Doc. 1) at 3.)
After the physical exam, Defendant Korang approved Plaintiff's provisional commercial driver's license for three months. This allowed Plaintiff to drive for Defendant AAA Cooper during his eight-week probationary period. Plaintiff believed that he would be hired by Defendant AAA Cooper at the end of his probationary period, and with the insurance provided by Defendant AAA Cooper, he would obtain the sleep study before his provisional license expired. (Id.
At the end of Plaintiff's probationary period - on or about May 22, 2012 - Defendant Beasley, an "agent" of Defendant AAA Cooper, denied Plaintiff permanent employment with the company, even though Plaintiff claims he met all relevant requirements for permanent status. Without permanent employment, Plaintiff did not have medical benefits, and without medical benefits, Plaintiff was unable to pay for the sleep study. Without the sleep study, Plaintiff could not obtain his DOT medical card or his permanent commercial license. (Id.)
Despite being denied full-time employment, Plaintiff continued to work for Defendant AAA Cooper. Plaintiff's provisional license was extended for three more months, after Defendant Immel, another "agent" of Defendant AAA Cooper, "coerce[d]" Defendant Korang to extend his DOT medical card. According to Plaintiff, Defendant Immel convinced Defendant Korang to extend the DOT medical card by explaining that the sleep study would take an additional six weeks to complete. Plaintiff continued to drive for Defendant AAA Cooper, increased his hours to cover shifts for other drivers, picked up two extra stops to cover for a less efficient driver, and trained a new employee. (Id. at 4.)
However, in September 2012, after the additional three months had expired, Defendant Korang did not renew Plaintiff's commercial driver's license. Plaintiff was no longer legally allowed to drive commercial vehicles, and his employment with Defendant AAA Cooper was terminated on or about September 27, 2012. (Def. AAA Cooper's Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. C, EEOC Charge (Doc. 27-3) at 2.) In addition to the adverse employment decision that occurred, Plaintiff also claims that, during his employment, Plaintiff was twice threatened with bodily harm by Defendant Dugan. (Compl. (Doc. 1) at 5.)
As early as October 1, 2012, Plaintiff brought his case before the North Carolina Employment Security Commission ("NCESC") and then appealed the decision of the NCESC. Some of Plaintiff's claims pertain to what was said during the NCESC hearing. Plaintiff claims Defendant Immel told the NCESC that Plaintiff had quit his job because Plaintiff did not want to get the required sleep study. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Immel admitted to the NCESC that he "called U.S. Health Works on Friendly Ave. in Greensboro[, ] NC, and had [Plaintiff's] medical card extended to the benefit of [Immel] and AAA Cooper Transportation." (Compl. (Doc. 1) at 4).
On April 9, 2013, Plaintiff then filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). (EEOC Charge (Doc. 27-3) at 2.) On November 20, -, the EEOC dismissed the charge, finding that "the EEOC is unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violations of the statutes." (Compl., EEOC Dismissal & Notice of Rights (Doc. 1-1) at 1.) The EEOC Notice also explained that Plaintiff had 90 days to file his lawsuit, and Plaintiff filed suit in this court on February 18, 2014. (Id.)
After filing his lawsuit, Plaintiff filed summons for all named Defendants on February 18, 2014. (Doc. 3.) Later, however, Plaintiff re-issued summons against Defendants ...