Mann v. Mo. Home Therapy, LLC

Decision Date04 June 2019
Docket NumberCase No. 4:18-CV-01046-NCC
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Missouri

This matter is before the Court on Defendants Missouri Home Therapy, LLC and Missouri In Home Services, LLC's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 23) and Plaintiff Latonia Mann's Motion to Conduct Discovery Pursuant to Rule 56(d) (Doc. 25). The Motions are fully briefed and ready for disposition. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) (Doc. 10). For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion will be GRANTED, in part and DENIED, in part and Plaintiff's Motion will be DENIED.

I. Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for a motion to dismiss based on the "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." To survive a motion to dismiss a complaint must show "'that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice" to defeat a motion to dismiss. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "[O]nly a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. (citation omitted). The pleading standard of Rule 8 "does not require 'detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "When ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). All reasonable references from the complaint must be drawn in favor of the nonmoving party. Schaaf v. Residential Funding Corp., 517 F.3d 544, 549 (8th Cir. 1999).

II. Background

On July 17, 2018, Plaintiff Latonia Mann ("Plaintiff") filed an amended complaint against Missouri Home Therapy, LLC and Missouri In Home Services, LLC for employment discrimination pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq. (the "ADA") (Doc. 3). The facts, in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, are as follows. Plaintiff was in a supervised rehabilitation program under a doctor's care with a prescription for methadone when she was instructed to get a drug test (Id. at ¶14). On September 25, 2014, Plaintiff had a meeting with "the owners of the company,"1 Ms. Dionneshae Forland-Neal and Mr. Forland-Neal2 (Id. at ¶19). They informed Plaintiff that she tested positive foropiates (Id.). Plaintiff explained to them that methadone was prescribed to her by her doctor in her treatment program (Id.). During the meeting, Ms. Forland-Neal did not claim that Plaintiff's work performance was unsatisfactory in any way (Id. at ¶23). On that same day, Plaintiff was terminated (Id. at ¶16). Plaintiff alleges that Defendants, "an employer within the meaning of the ADA," discharged her because of her participation in a supervised rehabilitation program, and their perception of her as disabled as a result of that participation (Id. at ¶¶22, 24).

On January 15, 2015, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") against respondents Missouri Home Therapy, LLC and Dionneshae Forland-Neal for disability discrimination (Doc. 3 at ¶6). See also Doc. 25-4 (Charge of Discrimination).3 The charge identified Ms. Forland-Neal and Mr. Forland-Neal as the two persons who discharged Plaintiff (Doc. 25-4). A copy of the charge was sent to Ms. Forland-Neal at the address of Missouri Home Therapy, LLC, listed as Plaintiff's employer on her claim (Id.). On April 2, 2018, Plaintiff received a "Notice of Right to Sue" from the EEOC (Doc. 3 at ¶7). The Notice was also sent to Ms. Forland-Neal at the address of the employer Plaintiff listed on her charge (Id.). Relevant to the current motion, Ms. Forland-Neal is listed as the registered agent for both Missouri In Home Services, LLC and Missouri Home Therapy LLC (Docs. 25-2, 25-3). Additionally, both Defendants have the same address and that address is the same one that Plaintiff listed on her Charge of Discrimination under Missouri Home Therapy LLC (Docs. 25-2, 25-3, 25-4).

On November 9, 2018, Defendants filed a Joint Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 23). In their Motion, Defendant allege that Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted as she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies for her correct employers which Defendants allege were Kenneth Green and Brenda Mann, the consumers that hired Plaintiff to serve as their personal care attendant. In support of their Motion to Dismiss, Defendants provide Plaintiff's one-page "Employment Application for Personal Care Attendant" (Doc. 24-1). Defendant Missouri In Home Services, LCC is listed at the top of the application (Id.).

Plaintiff filed a Motion for Continuance to Conduct Discovery Pursuant to Rule 56(d) (Doc. 25). Plaintiff asserts that Defendants rely on materials outside the pleadings that are unavailable to Plaintiff (Id.). Therefore, Plaintiff requests that the Court, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d), continue Defendants' Motion to Dismiss until discovery can be conducted (Id.). Alternatively, Plaintiff responds to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and asserts that Plaintiff has an actionable claim under the ADA and satisfied the exhaustion standard (Id.).

On November 19, 2018, after a Rule 16 Conference, the Court entered a Case Management Order setting the discovery schedule in the case (Doc. 27).

III. Analysis
A. Matters Outside the Pleadings

As a preliminary matter, the Court must determine whether Plaintiff's employment application, attached as an exhibit to Defendants' memorandum in support of its motion, may be properly considered in resolving this motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). In reviewing a motion to dismiss, courts must generally ignore materials outside the pleadings, Porous Media Corp. v. Pall Corp., 186 F.3d 1077, 1079 (8th Cir. 1999), but may consider "the pleadings themselves, materials embraced by the pleadings, exhibits attached to the pleadings, and matters of public record." Illig, 652 F.3d at 976 (quoted case omitted). "Mattersoutside the pleadings" include any written evidence "in support of or in opposition to the pleading that provide[s] some substantiation for and does not merely reiterate what is said in the pleadings." McAuley v. Federal Ins. Co., 500 F.3d 784, 787 (8th Cir. 2007) (quoted case omitted). The Court finds Plaintiff's employment application submitted in support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is a "matter outside the pleading," as Defendants concede (See Doc. 30 at 1-2). When a "matter outside the pleading" is presented to the Court in support of a motion to dismiss, the Court may convert the motion to a motion for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 or it may exclude the matter and address the motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Cf. Zean v. Fairview Health Servs., 858 F.3d 520, 526 (8th Cir. 2017) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d)) ("If matters outside the pleadings 'are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56.'"). The Court finds that it can address many of Defendants' arguments while excluding Plaintiff's employment application from its analysis and will, therefore, decline to convert the motion into a motion for summary judgment. Accordingly, as Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 will not apply to the current motion, Plaintiff's request to conduct discovery under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d) will be denied.

B. Employment Status

In their Motion to Dismiss, Defendants first assert that Plaintiff's amended complaint is deficient and fails to state a cognizable claim against Missouri Home Therapy or Missouri In Home Services, LLC because Plaintiff was never employed by either entity under the Consumer-Directed Personal Care Assistance Service Program ("the Program") (Doc. 24 at 4). Rather, Defendants argue that Missouri In Home Services, LLC is "a vendor" under the Program, not an employer, and Missouri Home Therapy, LLC is not associated with the Program (Id. at 1, 10).Instead, Defendants assert, Plaintiff was employed by Kenneth Green and Brenda Mann, the consumers of the Program, who hired Plaintiff to serve as their personal care attendant (Id. at 1).

Broadly, the ADA protects the employment rights of disabled "employees." Wojewski v. Rapid City Regional Hosp., Inc., 450 F.3d 338, 342 (8th Cir. 2006). An "employee" is defined under the ADA as an "individual employed by an employer." 42 U.S.C. § 12111(4). This is a statutory definition that has been critiqued as one "[t]hat surely qualifies as a mere nominal definition that is completely circular and explains nothing." Clackamas Gastroenterology Assocs., P. C. v. Wells, 538 U.S. 440, 444 (2003) (internal quotation marks omitted). The definition of "employer" is similarly unhelpful and circular; the ADA defines an "employer" as "a person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has 15 or more employees." 42 U.S.C. § 12111(5). The Supreme...

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