Ahmed v. Regents of the Univ. of Cal.

Decision Date07 February 2018
Docket NumberCase No.: 17cv0709-MMA (NLS)
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of California



Plaintiff Faisal Ahmed ("Plaintiff"), proceeding pro se, filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC") against defendants The Regents of the University of California ("Regents"), Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston ("Liberty Life"), and twelve individual defendants. See Doc. No. 6. Plaintiff alleges claims for: (1) failure to engage in a timely good-faith interactive process in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"); (2) retaliation due to a need for an accommodation in violation of the ADA; (3) conspiracy to deprive Plaintiff of workers' compensation, disability benefits, and wages in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"); and (4) discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and country of origin in violation of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. See id. The Regents filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's FAC for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Doc. No. 8-1. Plaintiff filed an opposition to the Regents' motion, to which the Regents replied. See Doc. Nos. 10, 11. Additionally, individual defendants Dr. Hyong Kim, Debby Leedy, Pamela Thompson, Ellen Mathews, Gregory Spire, Linda Morgan, and Dr. Gary Bogart (collectively, the "individual defendants") filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's FAC for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Doc. No. 18. Plaintiff filed an opposition1, to which the individual defendants replied. See Doc. Nos. 22, 25.

The Court found the matters suitable for determination on the papers and without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1.d.1. See Doc. Nos. 12, 26. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS the Regents' motion to dismiss, and GRANTS the individual defendants' motion to dismiss.


Plaintiff "has a rare form of leprosy . . . endemic in India and the country of [Plaintiff's] origin, Bangladesh." FAC ¶ 20. In October 2003, Plaintiff began working for the University of California, San Diego's ("UCSD") Recreation Department "as a part-time Martial Arts Instructor[.]" Id. ¶ 23. In September 2008, Plaintiff also began working for UCSD's Department of Medicine and continued working for both departments at the school. See id.

Plaintiff injured his knee in November 2008, which "required surgery and extensive rehabilitation[.]" Id. The "knee surgery failed, and [Plaintiff] re-injured his left knee in October 2010," requiring another knee surgery. Id. ¶ 24. Plaintiff alleges that "due to his underlying [leprosy] condition," his second knee surgery failed. Id. ¶ 28. Moreover, Plaintiff also injured his right knee in February 2012. Id. Plaintiff claims that his supervisor at the Department of Medicine, defendant Dr. Hyong Kim, "failed to initiate an interactive process or offer any accommodation even though the plaintiff clearly had to utilize crutches to ambulate." Id. Plaintiff asserts Dr. Kim "ordered" him to "'hurry' even though [Dr. Kim] was well aware that the plaintiff had two injured knees." Id. ¶ 33. Plaintiff pled with Dr. Kim "to initiate an interactive process[.]" Id. ¶ 37. However, "[d]ue to the lack of any reasonable accommodation made by Kim, the plaintiff could not return to his position and had to medically separate from the Department of Medicine on December 12, 2012." Id. ¶ 29.

On March 1, 2013, UCSD's Recreation Department hired Plaintiff as a yoga instructor. Id. On March 4, 2013, Plaintiff also began working for UCSD's Department of Neuroscience as a "Senior Data Analyst[.]" Id. Plaintiff alleges that "[w]ithin his first week of work as a data analyst, he "began to experience rashes" and "flu-like symptoms." Id. ¶ 30. Plaintiff attributed his symptoms to the air conditioning in the building that he worked in. See id. ¶ 31.

Plaintiff claims that his requests for an accommodation "were dismissed without analysis or indication that implementing them would constitute an undue hardship." Id. ¶ 46. "The [Department of Neuroscience] refused to simply move the plaintiff across the hall to a vacant office with a window. They refused to make any accommodation, no matter how small, such as moving his workstation to a different desk, without excessive documentation from a doctor." Id. ¶ 48. Eventually, however, the Department of Neuroscience relocated Plaintiff's workstation to an office with a window. See id. ¶ 84. However, the "department failed to . . . secure and provide [Plaintiff with] his own air purifier in his office when he arrived at work as agreed." Id. ¶ 85. Plaintiff becamedissatisfied with his new office when he realized that "his workstation was located on the opposite side of the office from the window" and "the air vents in the room were positioned between his desk and the window." Id. ¶ 86. In sum, "the department still failed to provide the necessary accommodations." Id. ¶ 87.

Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that the Regents, Liberty Life, and individual defendants Leedy, Thompson, Spire, Morgan, and Bogart "conspired" and engaged in activity "to deprive and devalue" Plaintiff's workers' compensation, part-time earnings, and disability benefits. Id. ¶ 116.

Plaintiff further alleges that he received discriminatory treatment by his treating physician, Dr. Bogart, who Plaintiff claims is employed by UCSD. Id. ¶¶ 11, 160. Plaintiff asserts that his wife "had a similar medical problem with an abscess on her face." Id. ¶ 159. Dr. Bogart examined Plaintiff's wife in April 2012, "treated her well," prescribed her antibiotics, and referred her to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist. Id. Plaintiff asserts he "received very different treatment" from Dr. Bogart. Id. ¶ 160. Plaintiff alleges "[t]here is good reason to believe that the differences between the treatment received by the plaintiff and his wife were based on gender, race, country of origin, and/or religion." Id. Additionally, Plaintiff claims that one of his former supervisors requested doctor's notes from Plaintiff's medical appointments. Id. ¶ 168.

In April 2013, Plaintiff was informed that he could no longer teach yoga classes for the Recreation Department. Id. ¶ 101. Additionally, On February 28, 2014, the Department of Neuroscience terminated Plaintiff's employment. Id. ¶ 67. Plaintiff commenced the instant action on April 6, 2017. See Doc. No. 1.


A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the sufficiency of the complaint. Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). A pleading must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). However, plaintiffs must also plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,570 (2007). The plausibility standard thus demands more than a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, or naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Instead, the complaint "must contain allegations of underlying facts sufficient to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively." Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011).

In reviewing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), courts must assume the truth of all factual allegations and must construe them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). The court need not take legal conclusions as true merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations. Roberts v. Corrothers, 812 F.2d 1173, 1177 (9th Cir. 1987). Similarly, "conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are not sufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss." Pareto v. FDIC, 139 F.3d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1998).

In determining the propriety of a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, courts generally may not look beyond the complaint for additional facts. United States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir. 2003). "A court may, however, consider certain materials—documents attached to the complaint, documents incorporated by reference in the complaint, or matters of judicial notice—without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment." Id.; see also Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001). "However, [courts] are not required to accept as true conclusory allegations which are contradicted by documents referred to in the complaint." Steckman v. Hart Brewing, Inc., 143 F.3d 1293, 1295-96 (9th Cir. 1998). Where dismissal is appropriate, a court should grant leave to amend unless the plaintiff could not possibly cure the defects in the pleading. Knappenberger v. City of Phoenix, 566 F.3d 936, 942 (9th Cir. 2009).

Generally, courts must broadly construe pleadings filed by pro se litigants, affording pro se plaintiffs any benefit of the doubt. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Thompson v. Davis, 295 F.3d 890, 895 (9th Cir. 2002). A pro se complaint "can only be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it appears 'beyond doubt that theplaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.'" Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 91, 106 (1976) (citing Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 521 (1972)).

A. The Regents' Request for Judicial Notice

As an initial matter, the Regents requests the Court take judicial notice of two documents in support of its motion to dismiss. Doc. No. 8-2. Exhibit 1 is a...

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    ...actions taken or not taken within the employment context by that employer. See, e.g., Ahmed v. Regents of Univ. of California, No. 17cv00709-MMA (NLS), 2018 WL 747796 at *12 (S.D. Cal. Feb. 7, 2018) (plaintiff, an employee of the University of California, was denied leave to assert a Title ......

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