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Woodruff v. Red Classic Transit, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

September 24, 2019

DAVID WOODRUFF, Plaintiff,
v.
RED CLASSIC TRANSIT, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER

          GRAHAM C. MULLEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant’s initial Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 4) filed February 6, 2019 and subsequent Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 7) filed March 6, 2019. Plaintiff responded (Doc. No. 9), and Defendant replied (Doc. No. 10). This matter is ripe for adjudication. For the following reasons, Defendant’s Motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Facts

         Defendant hired Plaintiff in August 2015 to work as a commercial truck driver. (Doc. No. 6, at 5). In mid-2017, “the degenerative arthritis in [Plaintiff’s] knee, with which he had been suffering for many years, finally progressed to the point where he found himself unable to perform major life activities such as walking, standing, crouching, climbing into and out vehicles, and driving.” (Doc. No. 6, at 8). As a result of Plaintiff’s knee condition, he sought “accommodation for his disability” by requesting “twelve weeks of [Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”)] leave [in May 2017] so that [he] could undergo [and recover from] knee surgery.” (Doc. No. 6, at 8). Further, Plaintiff called his supervisor, Matt Gin, “informing and/or reminding him about [Plaintiff’s] degenerative knee condition, advising him of [Plaintiff’s] need to undergo surgery and physical recovery, and requesting Mr. Ginn’s guidance regarding when to schedule FMLA leave.” (Doc. No. 6, at 9). Plaintiff also provided Defendant with “certification from [his] physician, ” explaining “his inability to walk immediately after surgery, and that he could only gradually increase his ability to walk . . . as his knee healed.” (Doc. No. 6, at 9).

         Soon after requesting FMLA leave, Mr. Ginn informed Plaintiff that he had violated safety standards. (Doc. No. 6, at 9). Plaintiff was suspended, and then, on July 18, 2017, Plaintiff was terminated. (Doc. No. 6, at 10). Because Plaintiff received a “safety bonus” every year he worked for Defendant, including the year that he was terminated, Plaintiff believes Defendant’s reason for terminating him was not related to safety. (Doc. No. 6, at 8, 11). Instead, Plaintiff believes Defendant terminated him as a result of unlawful discrimination based on his disability and retaliation for Plaintiff’s attempt to take FMLA leave. (Doc. No. 6, at 11).

         B. Procedure

         Defendant filed its initial Motion to Dismiss on February 6, 2019, requesting that the Court dismiss the entire Complaint. (Doc. No. 4). Soon after, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint, alleging that Defendant (1) discriminated against him in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), (2) retaliated against him in violation of the ADA, (3) violated the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA), and (4) wrongfully discharged him in violation of N.C. G.S. § 143-422.22. (Doc. No. 6, at 12-19). Plaintiff also made a claim (5) for punitive damages. (Doc. No. 6, at 17).

         In response to the Amended Complaint, Defendant filed a subsequent Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. No. 7). In that Motion, Defendant argued that because (1) Plaintiff did not state a claim for ADA discrimination, (2) Plaintiff did not state a claim for ADA retaliation, and (3) Plaintiff’s North Carolina claims rely upon Plaintiff’s faulty ADA claims, four of Plaintiff’s five claims should be dismissed under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (Doc. No. 8, at 4).[1]

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         “Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires . . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation and internal quotations omitted). Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) provides an avenue to attack a complaint where the “grounds” of a plaintiff’s “entitle[ment] to relief” are insufficient. Id. (citation omitted). To survive such a motion, a plaintiff must provide more than “just a formulaic recitation of the elements, ” and the “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. “[W]hen the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief, ” that claim should be dismissed. Id. at 558.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff’s first, second, fourth, and fifth claims do not survive Defendant’s Rule 12(b)(6) challenge because the allegation’s in Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint cannot raise a claim of entitlement to relief.

         A. Plaintiff’s ADA ...


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