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Beck v. Peninsula Fire District

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 30, 2013

TOBIAS BECK, Plaintiff,
v.
PENINSULA FIRE DISTRICT; ROBERT PHILLIPS; GARY PINI; and DOES 1 through 50, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

JOHN A. MENDEZ, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendants Peninsula Fire District, Robert Phillips, and Gary Pini's ("Defendants") Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #13) Plaintiff Tobias Beck's ("Plaintiff") Complaint (Doc. #2) for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("FRCP"). Plaintiff opposes the motion (Doc. #16) and Defendants have filed a reply (Doc. #17). For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is GRANTED.[1]

I. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a resident of Tehama County, California, and was hired by Defendant Peninsula Fire District in 2008 as a firefighter-paramedic. Compl. ¶¶ 3, 7. Defendant Robert Phillips was, at all relevant times, the Chairman of the Board and the Acting Fire Chief of the Peninsula Fire District. Compl. ¶ 5. Defendant Gary Pini was, at all relevant times, the duly-appointed Fire Chief of the Peninsula Fire District. Compl. ¶ 5.

On May 13, 2011, Plaintiff suffered an on-the job injury to his ankle. Compl. ¶ 7. From May 13, 2011 until June 3, 2012, Plaintiff was on temporary total disability under California workers' compensation. Compl. ¶ 8. Plaintiff alleges that, upon returning to active duty, he was "singled out for a freeze of contractual salary increase." Compl. ¶ 8. Plaintiff further alleges that, on October 25, 2012, "a part-time, less qualified employee was assigned to be shift supervisor over Plaintiff." Compl. ¶ 8. On November 8, 2012, Plaintiff alleges that he was "denied financial reimbursement for an educational class Defendants agreed to pay for." Compl. ¶ 8. Despite the fact that Plaintiff was "placed on light duty by his physician" on November 20, 2012, Plaintiff alleges that he was "assigned to be on his feet sweeping, mopping, cleaning and moving heavy objects across an icy parking lot." Compl. ¶ 8. On December 12, 2012, Plaintiff "received a letter of disciplinary action against him." Compl. ¶ 8. Plaintiff alleges that these actions were taken by Defendants to retaliate against Plaintiff for suffering a workplace injury and for having a disability. Compl. ¶ 10. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants retaliated against Plaintiff for his union membership by "sabotaging contract negotiations" and by "questioning other employees... about possible wrong-doing" by Plaintiff. Compl. ¶ 10. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants subjected him to improper disciplinary action in retaliation for Plaintiff's signature on another employee's paramedic license renewal application, despite the fact that "paramedics were authorized to sign for such renewal applications." Compl. ¶ 11.

Plaintiff filed a charge of disability discrimination with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and subsequently received a right-to-sue notice. Compl. ¶ 9. On August 8, 2013, Plaintiff filed the Complaint (Doc. #2) in this Court. Plaintiff brings the following causes of action: (1) "Disability Discrimination and Retaliation;" (2) "Breach of Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing;" (3) "Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress;" and (4) "Disability Discrimination." The Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal ADA claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and Plaintiff's related state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

II. OPINION

A. Legal Standard

A party may move to dismiss an action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). To survive a motion to dismiss a plaintiff must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 556 U.S. 662, 570 (2007). In considering a motion to dismiss, a district court must accept all the allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Scheuer v. Rhodes , 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overruled on other grounds by Davis v. Scherer , 468 U.S. 183 (1984); Cruz v. Beto , 405 U.S. 319, 322 (1972). "First, to be entitled to the presumption of truth, allegations in a complaint or counterclaim may not simply recite the elements of a cause of action, but must sufficiently allege underlying facts to give fair notice and enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively." Starr v. Baca , 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011), cert. denied, 132 S.Ct. 2101 , 182 L.Ed.2d 882 (U.S. 2012). "Second, the factual allegations that are taken as true must plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, such that it is not unfair to require the opposing party to be subjected to the expense of discovery and continued litigation." Id . Assertions that are mere "legal conclusions" are therefore not entitled to the presumption of truth. Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Dismissal is appropriate when a plaintiff fails to state a claim supportable by a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Department , 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

Upon granting a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a court has discretion to allow leave to amend the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a). "Dismissal with prejudice and without leave to amend is not appropriate unless it is clear... that the complaint could not be saved by amendment." Eminence Capital, L.L.C. v. Aspeon, Inc. , 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003).

B. Discussion

1. First and Fourth Causes of Action - Individual Capacity

Defendants argue that Plaintiff's first and fourth causes of action for disability discrimination must be dismissed, insofar as they are brought against individual Defendants Robert Phillips and Gary Pini. Mot. at 4. Defendants argue that supervisors are not individually liable under the ADA or FEHA. Mot. at 4 (citing Walsh v. Nevada Department of Human Resources , 471 F.3d 1033, 1037-38 (9th Cir. 2006); Reno v. Baird , 18 Cal.4th 640, 645 (1998)). Plaintiff "concurs with Defendants' motion to dismiss the individual defendants in their individual capacities." Opp. at 1. Accordingly, Defendants' motion to dismiss the ...


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