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Harper v. Senior Aerospace Jet Products

May 17, 2010

CHESTER HARPER, AN INDIVIDUAL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SENIOR AEROSPACE JET PRODUCTS, A CALIFORNIA BUSINESS ENTITY; AND DOES 1-100, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John A. Houston United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS [DOC. # 5]

INTRODUCTION

Currently pending before this Court is the motion filed by defendant Senior Aerospace Jet Products ("defendant" or "Jet Products") to dismiss the complaint filed by plaintiff Chester Harper ("plaintiff" or "Harper"). Upon review of the parties' submissions, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS defendant's motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

1. Factual Background*fn1

Plaintiff was hired by Jet Products in August of 2006 and remained employed until he was terminated on or about June 25, 2009. Doc # 1 ¶¶ 13, 14. In June 2008, plaintiff was diagnosed with type II diabetes. Id. ¶ 15. Over the course of his employment with defendant, plaintiff was granted leave from work six to eight times in order to treat his diabetes. Id.¶ 16. On several of these occasions, Jet Products' agent, Greg Stewart ("Stewart"), gave plaintiff permission to take time off work to attend to his diabetes. Id. ¶ 16. Stewart also observed plaintiff prick his finger to check his blood sugar count on approximately ten occasions. Id.

On or about June 11, 2009, plaintiff began experiencing a pain in and around his left shoulder and neck area which he assumed was due to a pulled or strained muscle. Id. ¶ 18. During the following two weeks, plaintiff continued to feel pain in his shoulder and neck although it occasionally subsided. Id. On June 25, 2009, plaintiff still experienced neck and shoulder pain while at work prior to the start of his 6:30a.m. shift. Id. At 6:45 a.m., the pain had escalated to the point that plaintiff felt the need to leave work. Id. Consequently, plaintiff informed Stewart that he was experiencing severe muscle pain, explaining that he believed he had pulled or strained his muscles while at home and requested he use a sick day so he could "rest and ice his muscles." Id. ¶ 19. Stewart acknowledged plaintiff's request but requested plaintiff remain at work until Stewart filled out a "near miss" incident report prior to leaving work. Id. ¶ 20. Stewart returned to plaintiff's work area around 7:20 a.m. with a blank "near miss" form and filled in the report form in pencil based on the information given to him by plaintiff. Id. Stewart then told plaintiff not to leave until the report was typed up. Id. Plaintiff took two aspirin and retrieved an ice pack from a first aid kit. Id. When plaintiff did not hear from Stewart after waiting for about an hour, plaintiff telephoned Stewart and again requested permission to leave work but was asked to wait until Stewart finished typing up the "near miss" report. Id. ¶ 21.

Shortly thereafter, plaintiff was directed to speak with Tim Kuntzman ("Kuntzman"), Stewart's supervisor. Id. Plaintiff and Stewart both went to Kuntzman's office where Kuntzman insisted that plaintiff fill out an accident report. Id. Plaintiff attempted to explain that no accident had occurred at work and again requested he use his sick leave to go home. Id. Plaintiff then left work without having received permission to do so. Id. Two days later, on June 27, 2009, plaintiff received a letter from Jet Products stating that his employment was being terminated, effective June 25, 2009, for walking off the job mid shift. Id. at ¶22.

2. Procedural History

On August 3, 2009, plaintiff filed the instant complaint before the San Diego County Superior Court, alleging state law causes of action for disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, and wrongful termination. The complaint was subsequently removed to this Court on September 25, 2009, based on diversity jurisdiction. Defendant filed its motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on September 3, 2009. Plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion on November 27, 2009 and defendant filed its reply brief on December 7, 2009. Thereafter, the motion was taken under submission without oral argument. See CivLR 7.1(d.1).

DISCUSSION

Defendant moves to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

1. Legal Standard

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint. Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). Dismissal is warranted under Rule 12(b)(6) where the complaint lacks a cognizable legal theory. Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 534 (9th Cir. 1984); see Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326 (1989) ("Rule 12(b)(6) authorizes a court to dismiss a claim on the basis of a dispositive issue of law."). Alternatively, a complaint may be dismissed where it presents a cognizable legal theory yet fails to plead essential facts under that theory. Robertson, 749 F.2d at 534. While a plaintiff need not give "detailed factual ...


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