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McLaughlin v. Solano County

July 28, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge


Plaintiff seeks monetary relief against Defendants, Solano County ("County"), Christina Linville ("Linville"), and Michelle Harris ("Harris") for employment discrimination claims arising under the Federal Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") at 29 U.S.C. § 260 et seq., the California Family Rights Act ("CFRA") at Cal. Gov't. Code 12945.2 et seq., the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") at 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and the California Fair Employment & Housing Act ("FEHA") specifically at Cal. Gov't. Code § 12926(i).

In addition, Plaintiff seeks relief under the non-statutory tort claims of fraud, libel, and intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED"). Defendants now move to dismiss all causes of action in Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim is GRANTED.


In June 2006, after suffering from various illnesses for several months, Plaintiff secured a leave of absence under the FMLA from her employer, Defendant Solano County. Plaintiff returned from her leave on July 5, 2006, and two days later, Defendant Linville informed Plaintiff of her immediate dismissal from employment with the County. According to Plaintiff's Complaint, during their conversation Linville did not give Plaintiff a specific reason for the dismissal; however, the County ultimately filed a separation report which stated the reason for dismissal as "gross misconduct."

On or about December 10, 2006, Plaintiff secured permission from the County to review her personnel file. She claims that, upon inspection of her file she discovered, for the first time, the separation report containing the reason for dismissal. Plaintiff believed the purported reason set forth on that document (gross misconduct) was false.

On April 13, 2007, Plaintiff filed a Complaint of Discrimination with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing ("DFEH") and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Thereafter, Plaintiff filed the present Complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District on August 23, 2007.

At the time Plaintiff filed that Complaint, she had not received a right-to-sue notice from the EEOC or the DFEH. Her Complaint alleges four statutory causes of action (under the FMLA, CFRA, ADA, and FEHA, respectively) and three non-statutory claims of fraud, libel, and IIED. Defendants filed a motion to transfer venue to this Court, and Plaintiff stipulated to the transfer before the motion was heard.

On December 28, 2007, Defendants filed their current Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). First, Defendants argue that Plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies before bringing suit under the statutory causes of action. Furthermore, they contend that the statutes only create causes of action against employers and not fellow employees. Finally, Defendants challenge the non-statutory causes of action in their entirety, arguing that Plaintiff failed to allege compliance, or excused compliance, from the claim presentation requirement under the California Government Code.

Plaintiff filed her Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss on March 7, 2008.


On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), all allegations of material fact must be accepted as true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only "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." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed. 2d 80 (1957). While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the "grounds" of his "entitlement to relief" requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007) (internal citations and quotations omitted). Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Id. at 1965 (citing 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235-236 (3d ed. 2004) ("The pleading must contain something more . . . than . . . a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action").

If the court grants a motion to dismiss a complaint, it must then decide whether to grant leave to amend. The court should "freely give[]" leave to amend when there is no "undue delay, bad faith[,] dilatory motive on the part of the movant, . . . undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of . . . the amendment, [or] futility of the amendment. . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a); Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). Generally, leave to amend is only denied when it is clear that the ...

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