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Hatfield v. Davita Healthcare Partners, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California, Oakland Division

January 7, 2015

SANDRA HATFIELD, an individual; LAUREL ANTONUCCI, an individual; and MAUREEN PATRICIA MURPHY, an individual, Plaintiffs,
v.
DaVITA HEALTHCARE PARTNERS, INC.; and Does 1 through 50, inclusive, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFFS' THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT Dkt. 46

SAUNDRA BROWN ARMSTRONG, District Judge.

Plaintiffs Sandra Hatfield ("Hatfield"), Laurel Antonucci ("Antonucci") and Maureen Patricia Murphy ("Murphy") bring the instant action against their former employer, DaVita Healthcare Partners, Inc.[1] ("Defendant"), alleging, inter alia, claims for disability discrimination, retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED"). Antonucci has settled her claims with Defendant, leaving Hatfield and Murphy as the only remaining party-plaintiffs.

The parties are presently before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Third Amended Complaint for Damages Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Dkt. 46. Having read and considered the papers filed in connection with this matter and being fully informed, the Court hereby GRANTS the motion to dismiss. The Court, in its discretion, finds this matter suitable for resolution without oral argument. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b); N.D. Cal. Civ. L.R. 7-1(b).

I. BACKGROUND

Defendant operates kidney dialysis clinics throughout the United States, including one located in the Bel-Aire Plaza Shopping Center in Napa, California. Third Am. Compl. ("TAC"). ¶ 4, 10, 12, Dkt. 40. Hatfield and Murphy were employed as nurses at the Napa facility. Id . ¶¶ 10-12. Plaintiffs claim that while working at the clinic, "they experienced conditions which created an intolerable, hostile work environment because DaVita's facility operations were medically dangerous and unsafe" and were "rife with racial discrimination...." Id . ¶ 13.

On October 4, 2013, Plaintiffs filed the instant action against Defendant in the Napa County Superior Court, alleging six state law causes of action for: (1) constructive discharge in violation of public policy (by Hatfield and Antonucci only); (2) breach of contract; (3) breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (4) retaliation, failure to prevent harassment, discrimination; (5) fraudulent inducement to accept employment (by Hatfield only); and (6) IIED.

On November 8, 2013, Defendant removed the action on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Def.'s Not. of Removal, Dkt. 1. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss all causes of action (except the first claim for constructive discharge) for failure to state a claim, which the Court granted with leave to amend. Dkt. 23. Thereafter, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint on June 9, 2014, a Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") on July 17, 2014, and a TAC on August 29, 2014. Dkt. 24, 31, 40.[2] The TAC, which is the operative pleading before the Court, alleges the following five state law causes of action: (1) constructive discharge in violation of public policy; (2) race and disability discrimination[3]; (3) failure to accommodate in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act; (4) retaliation; (5) fraudulent inducement to accept employment; and (6) IIED.

Defendant now moves to dismiss the second cause of action for discrimination, insofar as it is based on disability discrimination as to Murphy; the fourth cause of action for retaliation; and the sixth cause of action for IIED. Dkt. 46. The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for adjudication.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

"Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is proper when the complaint either (1) lacks a cognizable legal theory or (2) fails to allege sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory." Somers v. Apple, Inc., 729 F.3d 953, 959 (9th Cir. 2013). "Rule 12(b)(6) is read in conjunction with Rule 8(a), which requires not only fair notice of the nature of the claim, but also grounds on which the claim rests.'" Zixiang Li v. Kerry, 710 F.3d 995, 998-99 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting in part Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 n.3 (2007)). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570 (2007)). A complaint must contain more than "labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action"; it must contain factual allegations sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

In assessing the sufficiency of the pleadings, "courts must consider the complaint in its entirety, as well as other sources courts ordinarily examine when ruling on Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss, in particular, documents incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of which a court may take judicial notice." Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007). The court is to "accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe the pleadings in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Outdoor Media Group, Inc. v. City of Beaumont, 506 F.3d 895, 899-900 (9th Cir. 2007). Where a complaint or claim is dismissed, leave to amend generally is granted, unless further amendment would be futile. Chaset v. Fleer/Skybox Int'l, 300 F.3d 1083, 1087-88 (9th Cir. 2002).

III. DISCUSSION

A. DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION

FEHA makes it an unlawful employment practice to discriminate against any person because of a physical or mental disability. Cal. Gov. Code § 12940(a). To "prevail on a discriminatory discharge claim under section 12940(a), an employee bears the burden of showing (1) that he or she was discharged because of a disability, and (2) that he or she could perform the essential functions of the job with or without accommodation (in the parlance of the [ADA], that he or she is a qualified individual with a ...


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