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Kris Robinson v. Hd Supply

November 1, 2012

KRIS ROBINSON,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
HD SUPPLY, INC., A CORPORATION,
DEFENDANT.



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

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO DISMISS

Defendant HD Supply, Inc. moves under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6) for dismissal with prejudice of Counts One through Four and Count Six of Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"). Plaintiff Kris Robinson alleges in these counts respectively the following claims: wrongful termination, disability discrimination, failure to provide reasonable accommodations, failure to engage in the interactive process, and negligent hiring and retention. Plaintiff opposes the motion.

I. LEGAL STANDARD

Decision on a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal motion requires determination of "whether the complaint's factual allegations, together with all reasonable inferences, state a plausible claim for relief." Cafasso, United States ex rel. v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1054 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)).

In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court "accepts the complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Adams v. U.S. Forest Serv., 671 F.3d 1138, 1142-43 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing Twombly, 544 U.S. at 555-56). However, this tenet does not apply to "legal conclusions . . . cast in the form of factual allegations." Fayer v. Vaughn, 649 F.3d 1061, 1064 (9th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted). "Therefore, conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are insufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555) ("A pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'").

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The following allegations in the SAC are involved in the motion. On or about March 24, 2008, Defendant, an industrial distribution corporation, hired Plaintiff to work as an Assistant Transportation Manager. (SAC ¶ 8.) Plaintiff's job duties included "scheduling truck drivers and coordinating pick-ups and deliveries throughout Northern California," and "comply[ing] with state and federal laws and regulations," such as the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations. (Id. ¶¶ 9-10.) On January 11, 2010, "[Plaintiff] informed Mary Sullivan, [Defendant's] Distribution Center Manager and [Plaintiff's] immediate supervisor, that he had recently been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ('PTSD') as a result of events that occurred during his overseas service in the United States Marine Corps." (Id. ¶ 11.) Seven working days later, Ms. Sullivan suspended Plaintiff from his job indefinitely. (Id. ¶¶ 12, 20, 30.)

On January 20, 2010, "Ms. Sullivan instructed [Plaintiff] to locate a driver who would be able to make a delivery from Sacramento to Salinas on short notice. [Plaintiff] was concerned about this instruction, however, because he knew that, based on the distance between these locations, this delivery route would necessitate a violation of the U.S. Department of Transportation Hours-of-Service Regulations." (Id. ¶ 13.) "[Plaintiff] shared his concern with Ms. Sullivan, who refused to rescind her order. Thereafter, [Plaintiff] consulted with [Defendant's] Regional Transportation Manager, Bruce Gagon" and "suggested an alternative method of accomplishing the delivery without violating any Department of Transportation Regulations." (Id. ¶ 14.) "Mr. Gagon advised [Plaintiff] that if he was uncomfortable with the instruction, he should ask Ms. Sullivan to issue the order herself. [Plaintiff] complied with [Mr. Gagon's] direction . . . and refused to issue" the order. (Id. ¶ 15.) Despite Plaintiff's compliance with Mr. Gagon's advice, Ms. Sullivan "harangued" Plaintiff and "told [him] that he would be disciplined for insubordination if he maintained his refusal to execute the order." (Id. ¶ 16.)

Ms. Sullivan's actions caused Plaintiff "extreme stress and anxiety" and "exacerbated [Plaintiff's] pre-existing PTSD and [Plaintiff's] reliance on medication for his PTSD." (Id. ¶ 17.) "Ms. Sullivan's insistence that she would discipline [Plaintiff] if he did not execute an order that he knew violated State and Federal laws and regulations [] triggered the symptoms of [Plaintiff's] PTSD and . . . interfered with [Plaintiff's] ability to coordinate with his co-workers." (Id. ¶ 28.) Her threats and their interaction with Plaintiff's PTSD also "hindered [Plaintiff's] ability to concentrate" and perform the "essential function" of scheduling drivers and deliveries on time and in compliance with the law. (Id. ¶ 27.) Due to the threats, Plaintiff "informed [Defendant] that he needed to take a walk [in the warehouse] in order to calm down" and that "Ms. Sullivan's threats necessitated his temporary removal from the hostile situation." (Id. ¶¶ 18-19, 22.) Plaintiff was suspended indefinitely from his job later that day. (Id. ¶ 12.)

"Because of the stress the suspension caused him, [Plaintiff] visited his physician's office and received a note from [the] Nurse Practitioner, Ms. Willerup, prescribing [that] he take a 10-working-day leave of absence . . . 'in order to adjust to treatment for health concerns.' [Plaintiff] provided this information to [Defendant]." (Id. ¶ 31.) Plaintiff's request for this medical leave immediately followed his disagreement with Ms. Sullivan. (Id. ¶ 24.)

Plaintiff also told "Mr. Gagon that Ms. Sullivan was threatening him with discipline if he failed to execute the [] order." (Id. ¶ 23.) Mr. Gagon "knew that permitting Ms. Sullivan to continue [] supervis[ing] [Plaintiff] created the risk that [Plaintiff] would suffer additional injuries." (Id. at ¶ 21.) Nonetheless, "Ms. Sullivan continued to supervise [Plaintiff]" throughout and following the January 20th incident. (Id. at ¶ 23.)

After his medical leave, Plaintiff "returned to work on February 9, 2010." (Id. ¶ 33.) The next day, on February 10, 2010, Defendant "summarily terminated [Plaintiff's] employment." (Id. ¶ 34.) The only misconduct that Defendant alleged Plaintiff committed involved the January 20th incident. (Id. ¶ 23.) In terminating Plaintiff, "Defendant considered Plaintiff's disability" and "Plaintiff's . . . refusal to participate in a course of action that would result in a violation of Federal and State laws and regulations." (Id. ¶¶ 42, 43, 52.)

III. DISCUSSION

A. Disability ...


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