United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS AND MOTION FOR A
MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT (DOC. NO. 5)
matter came before the court on November 14, 2017, for
hearing on defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim and motion for a more definite statement. (Doc.
No. 5). Attorney Kelsey A. Webber appeared telephonically on
behalf of defendant. Plaintiff did not file any written
opposition to the pending motion to dismiss and did not
appear at the hearing. For the reasons set forth below, the
court grants defendant's motion to dismiss and motion for
a more definite statement.
Justin Altimus brings this action against his former
employer, defendant Certainteed Corporation and in his
complaint alleges as follows. Plaintiff began working for
defendant on or around July 2014. (Doc. No. 1-1 ¶ 5.)
Plaintiff's supervisors were Kenny Dingler Sr. and Troy
Cook. (Id. ¶¶ 6, 9.) Beginning in or
around January 2015, plaintiff claims that he was harassed
and wrongly “written up” by his supervisors for
purported attendance infractions (id. ¶¶
6, 8, 9-11) and other purported job performance mistakes
(id. ¶¶ 12, 15-17). On or around August 1,
2015, Cook falsely told other employees that he had witnessed
plaintiff “bent over in a sexual manner with another
employee” during an overnight shift. (Id.
¶ 18.) On or around August, 3, 2015, plaintiff reported
Cook's statement to Dingler Sr., but Dingler Sr. took no
further steps to investigate. (Id. ¶¶ 19,
24, 30.) According to plaintiff, Dingler Sr. took retaliatory
actions against plaintiff for reporting the sexual
harassment, including but not limited to denying plaintiff
training opportunities in favor of less senior employees
(id. ¶¶ 20-21), and denying plaintiff
bereavement leave following the death of a family member
(id. ¶ 23).
to the complaint, due to plaintiff's family tragedy and
the stressful workplace environment, plaintiff took medical
leave beginning in February 2016. (Id. ¶ 24.)
The complaint is unclear about the next sequence of events.
Plaintiff claims that he was terminated from his employment
in January 2017, but apparently was reinstated after he
obtained and provided an updated doctor's note
authorizing his continued medical leave. (Id. ¶
29.) Following further disputes with defendant's human
resources department regarding his employment status over the
subsequent months (id. ¶ 31), plaintiff filed a
charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) in April 2017.
(Id. ¶ 33.) Plaintiff claims that defendant was
aware of the EEOC complaint when it sent a letter to him in
May 2017 claiming that plaintiff had abandoned his
employment. (Id. ¶ 34.)
April 19, 2017, the EEOC issued plaintiff a notice of right
to sue. (Doc. 1, Ex. 17.) On July 27, 2017, plaintiff filed a
complaint against Saint-Gobain Corporation of North America
in Madera County Superior Court. (Doc. No. 1-1.) The
complaint alleges seven causes of action for: 1) violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title
VII”); 2) violation of the Occupational Safety and
Health Act (“OSHA”); 3) violation of the National
Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”); 4) violation of
California Civil Code §§ 45-47; 5) violation of
Assembly Bill 2053, Chapter 306; 6) violation of California
Government Code §§ 12940-12950.1; and 7) violation
of defendant's Hourly Employee Handbook. (Id.)
On September 29, 2017, defendant filed a motion to dismiss
plaintiff's claims brought under OSHA, NLRA, Assembly
Bill No. 2053, and defendant's employee handbook. (Doc.
No. 5.) Defendant concurrently filed a motion for a more
definite statement with respect to plaintiff's claims
brought under Title VII, California Civil Code §§
45-47, and California Government Code §§
12940-12950.1. (Id.) As noted above, plaintiff did
not file any written opposition to the motions and did not
appear at the properly noticed hearing on those motions.
Standard for Motion to Dismiss
purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is
to test the legal sufficiency of the complaint. N. Star
Int'l v. Ariz. Corp. Comm'n, 720 F.2d 578, 581
(9th Cir. 1983). A dismissal may be warranted where there is
“the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence
of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal
theory.” Balistreri v. Pacifica Police
Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). A
plaintiff must allege “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is
plausible on its face “when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
evaluating whether a complaint states a claim on which relief
may be granted, the court accepts as true the allegations in
the complaint and construes the allegations in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff. Hishon v. King &
Spaulding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984); Love v. United
States, 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir. 1989). However,
the court will not assume the truth of legal conclusions cast
in the form of factual allegations. United States ex rel.
Chunie v. Ringrose, 788 F.2d 638, 643 n.2 (9th Cir.
1986). While Rule 8(a) does not require detailed factual
allegations, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of
a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements,
do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676. A
complaint must do more than allege mere “labels and
conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555.
ruling on such a motion, the court is permitted to consider
material that is properly submitted as part of the complaint,
documents that are not physically attached to the complaint
if their authenticity is not contested and the
plaintiff's complaint necessarily relies on them, and
matters of public record. Lee v. City of Los
Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 688-89 (9th Cir. 2001).
Standard for Motion for A More Definite Statement
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e) provides that a party may move
for a more definite statement if the pleading is “so
vague and ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare
a response.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). In moving for a more
definite statement, the party “must point out the
defects complained of and the details desired.”
Id. Such motions are “not favored by the
courts since pleadings in federal courts are only required to
fairly notify the opposing party of the nature of the
claim.” Griffin v. Cedar Fair, L.P., 817
F.Supp.2d 1152, 1154 (N.D. Cal. 2011) (quoting Resolution
Trust Corp. v. Dean, 854 F.Supp. 626, 629 (D. Ariz.
1994)). Finally, motions for a more definite statement
“should not be granted unless the defendant cannot
frame a responsive pleading.” Famolare, Inc. v.
Edison Bros. Stores, Inc., 525 F.Supp. 940, 949 (E.D.
Cal. 1981). A Rule 12(e) motion “is likely to be denied
where the substance of the claim has been alleged, even
though some of the details are omitted.” Neveu v.
City of Fresno, 392 F.Supp.2d 1159, 1169 (E.D. Cal.
2005). This liberal pleading standard is consistent with
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), which allows pleadings
that simply contain a “short and plain statement of the