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Hoover v. Swift Transportation Co.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

November 19, 2019

Isaiah Hoover, Plaintiff,
Swift Transportation Company, Defendant.



         Pending before the Court is Defendant Swift Transportation Company's (“Defendant”) Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Isaiah Hoover's (“Plaintiff”) First Amended Complaint, (Doc. 13). (Doc. 23). Plaintiff has responded, (Docs. 27 & 28), and Defendant has replied, (Doc. 33). Plaintiff has also filed a Motion to Amend the First Amended Complaint, (Doc. 25), as well as a supporting exhibit, (Doc. 29), and a memorandum, (Doc. 31). Defendant has responded to Plaintiff's Motion to Amend, (Doc. 34), and Plaintiff has not replied. The Court now rules on the motions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Court first briefly recounts Plaintiff's allegations. Broadly speaking, Plaintiff organizes his allegations around Defendant's failure to investigate or respond to the actions of three employees: Ken, Timmy Dale, and Gustavo. (See Doc. 13).

         Plaintiff, who is African-American, alleges that Ken, a manager with an unknown last name, verbally abused him during training by repeatedly calling him “boy”-a word historically used as a racial epithet (Id. at 2). Plaintiff also alleges that after he reported Ken's conduct to the human resources department, Plaintiff's next trainer told Plaintiff that he did not want to train Plaintiff anymore and requested Plaintiff's transfer to another truck. (Id. at 3).

         Later, Timmy Dale was assigned to be Plaintiff's trainer. (Id. at 4). Plaintiff alleges that Dale: asked Plaintiff to drive beyond his “hours of services;” became verbally abusive in response to Plaintiff opening a can of tuna before spraying a bottle of air freshener in his face; and threatened retaliation, using racial slurs, when Plaintiff decided to report him to human resources. (Id. at 4-5). Plaintiff also alleges that the morning after reporting Dale's behavior to a supervisor, the supervisor issued a disciplinary warning to Plaintiff and had him transferred to another truck. (Id. at 5-6).

         Most of Plaintiff's allegations, however, concern Gustavo. (Id. at 6-12). Among other things, Plaintiff alleges that he repeatedly refused Gustavo's unwelcome sexual advances. (Id. at 7-9). He also alleges that Gustavo complained that “[t]he worst part of his [j]ob is training Black Ethiopian men, [b]ecause of their [o]dor, accents, and they can't [d]rive.” (Id. at 9). According to Plaintiff, Gustavo kept an ornament depicting “[t]hree black [m]onkeys . . . swinging from . . . nooses across his dash board [sic].” (Id.). Plaintiff describes an episode where Gustavo became physical with him by forcefully taking a communication device from his hand after he had decided to report Gustavo's behavior. (Id. at 10). He also claims that Gustavo intentionally gave him lower scores on driving exams, and even damaged his own truck, in his effort to hinder Plaintiff's workplace success. (Id. at 10-11). Plaintiff reported this to the human resources department, but he alleges they took no action and he was ultimately fired. (Id. at 11-12).

         Based on these allegations, Plaintiff contends that Defendant discriminated against him on the basis of race and sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Plaintiff also appears to allege a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress based on the same underlying conduct. Defendant now moves to dismiss the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 12(b)(6), arguing that Plaintiff's Title VII claims are time-barred and that his intentional infliction of emotional distress claim is not sufficiently pleaded.


         A. Legal Standard

         When a claim either lacks a cognizable legal theory or alleges insufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory, the Court must grant a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). Only a complaint that satisfies Rule 8(a)(2)'s requirement of “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” will survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Rule 8 requires a complaint to plead sufficient facts 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). A complaint shows facial plausibility by pleading factual content that allows the Court to draw reasonable inferences as to the defendant's liability. Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). But when “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. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). In ruling on the motion, the Court must take as true all well-pleaded factual allegations but need not accept conclusory statements. Id.

         The Court may also grant a motion to dismiss when it is clear from the face of the complaint that a plaintiff's claims fall outside the applicable statute of limitations. Jablon v. Dean Witter & Co., 614 F.2d 677, 682 (9th Cir. 1980). “A court should not dismiss a complaint unless [the] plaintiff cannot plausibly prove a set of facts demonstrating the timeliness of the claim.” Ranch Realty, Inc. v. DC Ranch Realty, LLC, 614 F.Supp.2d 983, 987 (D. Ariz. 2007). Dismissal is warranted “only if the assertions of the complaint, read with the required liberality, would not permit the plaintiff to prove that the statute was tolled.” Morales v. City of Los Angeles, 214 F.3d 1151, 1153 (9th Cir. 2000) (quoting TwoRivers v. Lewis, 174 F.3d 987, 991 (9th Cir. 1999)). “Because the applicability of the equitable tolling doctrine often depends on matters outside the pleadings, it ‘is not generally amenable to resolution by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.'” Supermail Cargo, Inc. v. United States, 68 F.3d 1204, 1206 (9th Cir. 1995) (quoting Cervantes v. City of San Diego, 5 F.3d 1273, 1276 (9th Cir. 1993)).

         B. Title VII

         Defendant argues that Plaintiff's Title VII claim must be dismissed because he filed his complaint more than 90 days after the EEOC notified Plaintiff of his right to sue, meaning his claim is barred by the statute of limitations. (Doc. 23 at 5). Plaintiff appears to assert that his late filing was ...

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