Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Trezza v. NRG Energy

February 28, 2008

RAYMOND TREZZA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NRG ENERGY, INC., NRG ASTORIA GAS TURBINE OPERATIONS INC., AND ARTHUR KILL OPERATIONS, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Debra Freeman, United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM AND OPINION

This action was referred to me by the Honorable P. Kevin Castel for general pretrial supervision. Currently before the Court is a motion by plaintiff Raymond Trezza ("Trezza") to amend his Complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a). For the reasons set forth below, Trezza's motion to amend is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

A. Trezza's Allegations and His Proposed Amendment

According to Trezza's Complaint and his motion papers, Trezza was employed by defendants NRG Energy, Inc., NRG Astoria Gas Turbine Operations Inc., and Arthur Kill Operations, Inc. (collectively, "Defendants"), first as a mechanic, and then as a gas turbine operator, at an electricity generating plant in Astoria, Queens. (See Complaint, dated Oct. 30, 2006 ("Compl."), at ¶¶ 8-9; see also Reply Memorandum of Law of Plaintiff Raymond Trezza in Further Support of Motion for Leave To Amend Complaint, dated June 21, 2007 ("Pl. Reply Mem."), at 1.) In 2004, after suffering injuries on the job, Trezza took an extended disability leave from his employment, and was eventually terminated by Defendants, on April 7, 2005. (See Compl., at ¶¶ 10-12, 18-19.) This led to the instant lawsuit, in which Trezza alleges that, rather than fire him, Defendants should have provided a reasonable accommodation for his disability, and that their failure to do so violated both the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12111, et seq. (the "ADA"), and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §§ 701-796b, et seq. (the "Rehabilitation Act"). Trezza also alleges that his termination violated the Family Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2612, et seq. (the "FMLA"),*fn1 as well as certain state and local civil rights laws.

The primary focus of Trezza's motion to amend is paragraph 24 of his Complaint, in which he alleges that Defendants resented the fact that, in his role as a shop steward for his union, Trezza had reported to the union certain "alleged security violations of Defendants relating to 9/11." (Compl., at ¶ 24.) According to the Complaint, Trezza was told that his reporting of these security violations would result in his being fired. (See id.) The Complaint then charges that "Defendants followed through on their threat" (id.), thus suggesting that Defendants failed to accommodate Trezza's disability (and instead terminated him) for a specific retaliatory reason.

In his motion to amend, Trezza seeks leave to modify this paragraph by adding language suggesting a second motive for Defendants' conduct: specifically, that they were displeased that Trezza had argued with them over "improprieties" in Defendants' reporting of the Astoria power plant's so-called "unit availability." (Proposed Amended Complaint, dated May 30, 2007 ("Proposed Am. Compl."), at ¶ 24.) In his motion papers, Trezza explains that, as a union shop steward, it was one of his "essential functions" to confirm that the gas turbine plant operators at the plant were accurately reporting the availability of electricity generation "units." (See Memorandum of Law of Plaintiff Raymond Trezza in Support of Motion for Leave To Amend Complaint, dated May 29, 2007 ("Pl. Mem.), at 1.) Apparently (although this is not entirely clear from Trezza's papers), Defendants could only seek to be paid by Con Edison or other customers for the plant's "capacity" to generate electricity when the plant reported to their customers that it had sufficient "unit availability." (See id. at 2-3.) Trezza suggests that Defendants therefore had an interest in falsely reporting unit availability. (See id. at 3; Proposed Am. Compl., at ¶ 24.) He seeks to allege that he had argued with Defendants about his need to confirm the accuracy of unit availability reporting, and that Defendants told him that they would fire him as a result of their "conflict" with him on this issue. (Proposed Am. Compl., at ¶ 24.) Although his proposed Amended Complaint does not go so far as to allege that Defendants actually submitted, or planned to submit, false statements to Con Edison or any other customer or regulatory authority, this is the plain implication of Trezza's proposed allegations; indeed, in an earlier letter to the Court, Trezza's counsel made this clear, describing the issue as relating to the "misreporting" of unit availability, and stating that "Defendants did not want [P]laintiff . . . to remain employed to witness [such] violations." (Letter to the Court from Nelson M. Stern, Esq., dated Mar. 21, 2007.)

Trezza also seeks leave to modify paragraph 19 of his Complaint, which, in its original form, alleges that he "was fired for expiration of his sick benefits . . . ." (Compl., at ¶ 19.) Trezza seeks to change that language to read that he "was fired for expiration of his sick benefits and for being disabled . . . ." (Proposed Am. Compl, at ¶ 19.) In addition, Trezza seeks to add to this paragraph two new factual allegations: that "Defendants stated on the Termination Form that Plaintiff was eligible for rehiring," and that "Defendants never conducted an Exit Interview of Plaintiff." (Id.)

Defendants oppose Trezza's motion to amend to the extent he seeks to modify the allegations of paragraph 24 (regarding the parties' alleged conflict over "unit availability"), but do not challenge the proposed modification of paragraph 19.

B. Procedural History

In order to place Trezza's motion in context, it is necessary to have some understanding of the history of this case, especially with regard to the timing and manner in which the issue of "unit availability" has been raised by Trezza.

1. Trezza's Initial Silence on the Issue of Unit Availability

As noted above, Trezza's Complaint, as originally pleaded, contains no allegation regarding any conflict over the issue of the accurate reporting of unit availability. On the contrary, the Complaint specifies only that Trezza was told that he would be fired for reporting to his union "alleged security violations of Defendants relating to 9/11." (Compl., at ¶ 24.) Beyond that, in two sets of initial disclosures, dated January 26 and 29, 2007, Trezza makes absolutely no reference to any conflict between the parties regarding the reporting of unit availability. (See Affidavit of Hugh F. Murray, III, Esq., sworn to June 13, 2007 ("Murray Aff."), Exs. A and B.) Equally silent on this point are Trezza's February 1, 2007 responses to Defendants' discovery requests, which provide details regarding the alleged threats to fire Trezza over 9/11 security issues, but no information regarding any other supposed threats of termination. (See id., Ex. C.)

On March 13, 2007, Defendants deposed Trezza, and asked him specifically about his understanding as to why he was fired. (See id., Ex. D, at 198-99.) Trezza provided a number of reasons as to why he believed he was terminated, including that he had made reports about the plant's inability to comply with a post-9/11 security plan because of a lack of training and manpower; that he was disliked by his supervisor (Mike Schatz, who was the person who allegedly threatened Trezza with termination over the issue of his reporting of 9/11 security violations); and that he was a shop steward. (See id.) When then asked, "Are there any other reasons why you believe you were terminated?" Trezza ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.