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Rice v. Wayne Behavioral Health Network

March 3, 2010

THOMAS RICE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WAYNE BEHAVIORAL HEALTH NETWORK, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Thomas Rice, "Rice", brings this action against defendant Wayne Behavioral Health Network ("Wayne Health") claiming that he has been discriminated against on the basis of his disability status in violation of Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Plaintiff also contends that he was retaliated against for exercising his rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") and that the defendant interfered with his attempts to exercise his rights under that law. Specifically, plaintiff claims that he suffers from bi-polar disorder and a coronary heart disorder, and that he was forced to resign his employment after taking medical leave.

Defendant denies the plaintiffs allegations, and moves to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on grounds that he has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In support of its motion, the defendant contends that: (1) it is not a legal entity capable of being sued by the plaintiff; (2) plaintiff has failed to state a claim for the violation of the FLMA; (3) plaintiff has failed to state a claim for the violation of the ADA; and (4) plaintiff may not raise any New York State Law claims because he failed to file a notice of claim with Wayne County. Plaintiff opposes defendant's motion, and seeks leave to amend his Complaint to name the proper entity as a defendant.

For the reasons set forth below, I grant defendant's motion to dismiss the Complaint without prejudice, and grant in-part plaintiff's motion to file an Amended Complaint.

BACKGROUND

According to the Complaint, plaintiff began his employment with Wayne Health as a Network Specialist in April 2007. Based on the defendant's response papers, however, it appears that plaintiff was actually employed with Wayne Health since April 1997. Plaintiff claims that his employer was aware that he suffered from a heart condition and bi-polar disorder. Sometime in mid-April, 2007, plaintiff claims that he took a leave of absence (for an unspecified period of time) from his employment due to his bi-polar disorder. He claims that when he returned to work, he was treated differently, and was considered suicidal by his supervisors. He claims that as a result of their misperception of his condition, he was relieved of most of his job responsibilities, was not allowed to work with his door closed, and was forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Rice claims that as a result of the stress caused by the defendant's actions, he took another leave of absence on October 17, 2007. According to the defendant, he returned to work on or about January 2, 2008.

Upon plaintiff's return to work, he claims that he was given an ultimatum to either resign or be fired. On January 9, 2008, plaintiff resigned from his employment. In his resignation letter, plaintiff indicated that the resignation was on amicable terms. One week later, however, plaintiff wrote a follow-up letter indicating that he believed he had been constructively discharged.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard for Motion to Dismiss

In reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court must "accept...all factual allegations in the complaint and draw...all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor." See Ruotolo v. City of New York, 514 F.3d 184, 188 (2d Cir.2008) (internal quotation marks omitted). In order to withstand dismissal, the complaint must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007) (disavowing the oft-quoted statement from Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957), that "a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief").

"While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." See id. at 1965 (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, "at a bare minimum, the operative standard requires the 'plaintiff [to] provide the grounds upon which his claim rests through factual allegations sufficient to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'" See Goldstein v. Pataki, 516 F.3d 50, 56-57 (2d Cir.2008) (quoting Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1974).

II. Improper Defendant

Plaintiff filed the instant action against the Wayne Behavioral Health Network, which plaintiff contends is a business corporation organized under New York law. According to the defendant, however, Wayne Health is a department of Wayne ...


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