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Yazzie v. Mohave County

United States District Court, D. Arizona

November 25, 2015

Vina Yazzie, Plaintiff,
v.
Mohave County, Steve Latoski, Ramon Osuna, Kevin Stockbridge and Warren Twitchel, Defendants.

ORDER

JAMES A. TEILRORG, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Currently pending before the Court is Defendants’ Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and Plaintiff’s Second Motion to Extend Time to Amend Pleading. (Doc. 26 and Doc. 43). At oral argument, Plaintiff argued that as to the issue of exhaustion with the EEOC, Defendants’ motion should be converted to a motion for summary judgment. As to this issue only, the Court converted the motion originally filed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) to one under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, and allowed Plaintiff to submit evidence. (Docs. 68 and 73).

I. Facts

Plaintiff Vina Yazzie (“Plaintiff”) was previously employed by Defendant Mohave County, as a road maintenance worker. (Doc. 4 at 3; Doc. 14 at 3). On July 15, 2013, Plaintiff attended a county drug and alcohol training session conducted by Defendant Twitchel. (Doc. 4 at 3; Doc. 14 at 4). Plaintiff claims Defendant Twitchel made reference to a “zero tolerance” policy, which was not approved by the County Board of Supervisors. (Doc. 4 at 3). Plaintiff was selected for a drug screening the following day. (Doc. 4 at 3; Doc. 14 at 4). Plaintiff was later notified she had tested positive for drugs. (Doc. 4 at 4; Doc. 14 at 4).

On August 6, 2013, Plaintiff attended a meeting with Defendants Stockbridge and Latoski. (Doc. 4 at 4; Doc. 14 at 5). At this meeting, Defendants Stockbridge and Latosk notified Plaintiff that her employment was terminated and they advised her of her right to appeal. (Doc. 4 at 4; Doc. 14 at 5). Plaintiff filed for a hearing regarding her termination on August 15, 2013. (Doc. 4 at 4; Doc. 14 at 5). Plaintiff’s termination was upheld following a Merit Commission Appeal Hearing on December 20, 2013. (Doc. 4 at 5; Doc. 14 at 6).

On April 2, 2014, Plaintiff filed a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), claiming discrimination on the basis of her race, national origin, and sex. (Doc. 4 at 10; Doc. 14 at 9). The EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue on May 21, 2014 and Plaintiff filed her original complaint with this Court on August 20, 2014. (Doc. 4 at 10; Doc. 14 at 9). Plaintiff filed a second charge with the EEOC on August 15, 2014, alleging disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). (Doc. 4 at 10; Doc. 14 at 9). The EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue for the second charge on September 26, 2014, and Plaintiff subsequently amended her complaint on November 24, 2014. (Doc. 4 at 10; Doc. 14 at 9-10).

In her amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges eleven causes of action. (Doc. 4 at 10-22). Counts 1-9 name only Mohave County, Counts 10 and 11 name Defendants Mohave County, Steve Latoski, Ramon Osuna, Kevin Stockbridge, and Warren Twitchel (“Defendants”). (Doc. 4 at 10-22). Counts 1-3 allege violations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, specifically disability discrimination, retaliation, and failure to provide reasonable accommodation. (Doc. 4 at 10-13). Counts 4-6 allege violations of the ADA, specifically disability discrimination, retaliation, and failure to provide reasonable accommodation. (Doc. 4 at 13-16). Count 7 alleges violation of Title VII, discrimination based on race and/or ancestry. (Doc. 4 at 16-17). Counts 8 and 9 allege violations of the Family Medical Leave Act, specifically interference and retaliation. (Doc. 4 at 17-19). Count 10 alleges discrimination based on race and/or ancestry, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. (Doc. 4 at 19-21). Count 11 alleges civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 4 at 21-22).

On April 1, 2015, Defendants filed the pending Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, requesting this Court dismiss Counts 1-6, 10, and 11 against Mohave County.[1](Doc. 26). Plaintiff filed a brief in opposition to the motion, as well as the pending Second Motion to Extend Time to Amend Pleading on August 14, 2015. (Doc. 43-44).

II. Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings A. Legal Standard

A motion for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) is “functionally identical” to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, thus “the same standard of review applies to motions brought under either rule.” Cafasso, U.S. ex rel. v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1055 n. 4 (9th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation omitted).

To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim, a complaint must meet the requirements of Rule 8(a)(2). Rule 8(a)(2) requires a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” so that the defendant has “fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Also, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, which, if accepted as true, states a claim to relief that is “plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Facial plausibility exists if the pleader pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.

Id. Plausibility does not equal “probability, ” but plausibility requires more than a sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully. Id. “Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent’ with a defendant’s liability, it ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.’ ” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

Although a complaint attacked for failure to state a claim does not need detailed factual allegations, the pleader’s obligation to provide the grounds for relief requires “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal citations omitted). Rule 8(a)(2) “requires a ‘showing, ’ rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief. Without some factual allegation in the complaint, it is hard to see how a claimant could satisfy the requirement of providing not only ‘fair notice’ of the nature of the claim, but also ‘grounds’ on which the claim rests.” Id. (citing 5 Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1202, pp. 94, 95 (3d ed. 2004)). Thus, Rule 8’s pleading standard demands more than “an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court must construe the facts alleged in the complaint in the light most favorable to the drafter of the complaint and must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true. Shwarz v. United States, 234 F.3d 428, 435 (9th Cir. 2000); Cafasso, 637 F.3d 1053 (“[w]hen considering a Rule 12(c) dismissal, we must accept the facts as pled by the nonmovant”). Nonetheless, the Court does not have to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation. Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986).

B. Discussion

1. Section 504 and ADA Claims

Plaintiff alleges six claims under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA, alleging disability discrimination, retaliation, and failure to provide reasonable accommodation for Plaintiff’s disability. (Doc. 4 at 10-17). Mohave County (“Defendant”) claims the Court lacks jurisdiction over these claims because Plaintiff failed to file these claims with the EEOC within 300 days of her termination of employment.[2] (Doc. 26 at 4-6). Defendant further claims Plaintiff failed to ...


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