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Josephine Okwu v. Cindy Mckim; Judith Smith; Dave

January 19, 2011

JOSEPHINE OKWU,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CINDY MCKIM; JUDITH SMITH; DAVE SCHAEFER; ANNE STAUSBOLL; PETER H. MIXON; RORY J. COFFEY; DONNA RAMEL LUM; AND DOES 1-10,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland E. Burrell, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS TO DISMISS

Defendants Cindy McKim, Judith Smith, and Dave Schaefer (collectively, "Cal Trans Defendants") move for dismissal of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint ("FAC") under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Dismissal is sought under Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim.

Defendants Anne Stausboll, Peter H. Mixon, Rory J. Coffey, and Donna Ramel Lum (collectively, "CalPERS Defendants") also move for dismissal of Plaintiff's FAC under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim.

Each defendants sued in his or her individual capacity also argues that qualified immunity shields him or her from liability for the allegations in Plaintiff's claims. However, in light of the ruling below, it is unnecessary to address each Defendant's qualified immunity arguments.

Plaintiff states in her FAC that she alleges a single claim "for violation of the Federal Civil Rights Act", 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("§ 1983"). (FAC 10:12-13.) Plaintiff alleges "[t]he federal rights at issue [in her § 1983 claims] are (a) Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and (b) the [Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA").]" Id. ¶ 45. Plaintiff alleges Defendants "violated [her] civil rights . . . under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and the ADA . . . [by] deni[ng] her the right to reasonable accommodations as required under the ADA, and discrimin[ing] against her on the basis of her disability, in violation of the ADA and the Equal Protection Clause." Id. ¶¶ 57-60. Since all of Plaintiff's claims are plead under § 1983, and no claim is alleged directly under the ADA, Plaintiff's claims are analyzed under § 1983.

I. Legal Standard

A Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal motion tests the legal sufficiency of the claims alleged in a complaint. Novarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate only where the complaint either 1) lacks a cognizable legal theory, or 2) fails to allege "sufficient facts . . . under a cognizable legal theory." Balistreri v. Pacific Police Dept., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). To avoid dismissal, a plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007).

In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the material allegations of the complaint are accepted as true and all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the Plaintiffs. See al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, 580 F.3d 949, 956 (9th Cir. 2009). However, conclusory statements and legal conclusions are not entitled to a presumption of truth. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, --- U.S. ----, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949-50 (2009); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. "In sum, for a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the nonconclusory 'factual content,' and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief." Moss v. United States Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

II. Request for Judicial Notice

The Cal Trans Defendants' motion includes a request that judicial notice be taken of two documents: "The Board of Administration for the California Public Employees Retirement System ("Board") Decision dated January 29, 2009, attached as Exhibit A to [these defendants'] Request For Judicial Notice;" and "[t]he Settlement Agreement between the parties which was adopted by the California State Personnel Board ['SPB'] as its decision . . . [and] is attached as Exhibit B to [these defendants'] Request For Judicial Notice." (Cal Trans Def.'s Req. for Judicial Notice in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss Compl. ("RJN") Exs. A-B.) Plaintiff does not oppose this request.

"As a general rule, a district court may not consider any material beyond the pleadings in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion." Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted). However, since the Board's Decision dated January 29, 2009, is attached to Plaintiff's FAC as Exhibit A, and the Board Decision discusses the Settlement Agreement of which judicial notice is sought, both documents are considered in the decision on the motion under the "'incorporation by reference' doctrine." Knievel v. ESPN, 393 F.3d 1068, 1076 (9th Cir. 2005). This doctrine applies "to situations in which the plaintiff's claim depends on the contents of a document, the defendant attaches the document to its motion to dismiss, and the parties do not dispute the authenticity of the document, even though the plaintiff does not explicitly allege the contents of that document in the complaint." Id.

III. Factual Allegations in FAC

Plaintiff alleges in her complaint that she "suffers from several mental disorders, including bi-polar disorder, Schizoaffective disorder, and Psychosis." (FAC ¶ 13.) Plaintiff further alleges on February 18, 2003, she was dismissed from her job with the California Department of Transportation ("Cal Trans"). Id. ¶ 14. Plaintiff appealed the dismissal to the SPB, and also filed a discrimination action with the SPB. Id. ¶¶ 15-16. Thereafter, Plaintiff and Cal Trans entered into a signed settlement agreement, which the SPB adopted. (RJN Ex. B.) The Settlement Agreement "state[s] in part that if [Plaintiff] was not to be fit for duty, she would apply for disability retirement ["DR"] with the California Public Employees Retirement System ("CalPERS")." (FAC ¶ 17.)

Plaintiff applied for disability retirement on September 3, 2003, and CalPERS approved Plaintiff's application on February 21, 2004. Id. ΒΆΒΆ 18,19. Subsequently, on May 18, 2004, Plaintiff filed an application for reinstatement to the job position ...


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