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Cole v. Major Hospital

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

December 5, 2014

RENE COLE, Plaintiff,



This cause is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [Docket No. 11], filed on July 24, 2014 pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reason set forth below, the motion is GRANTED.

Factual Background

Plaintiff Rene Cole ("Ms. Cole") was hired by Defendant Major Hospital ("Major") in 2006 as a respiratory therapist who worked weekend option shifts. At some point prior to starting her employment with Major, Ms. Cole had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Id. at ¶ 7. Ms. Cole alleges that she had made her supervisor aware of her diagnosis. Id.

Ms. Cole claims that, during the course of her employment, in June 2011, she became aware that the emergency room did not have readily available the proper equipment for pediatric intubation, which she reported to her supervisor. Pl.'s Compl. ¶ 15. Despite Ms. Cole's first written report and notification to her supervisor and her supervisor's assurance that the problem would be addressed, she alleges that she continued to encounter issues with several pieces of equipment that were either missing from inventory or had expired. Id. at ¶¶ 17-20. According to Ms. Cole, she reported similar failures on three additional occasions: in July 2011, at the end of August or beginning of September 2011, and subsequently on an unspecified date. Id. at. ¶¶ 18-20. Ms. Cole alleges that her manager took no corrective action and was unresponsive to all her reports. Id. at ¶ 19.

At the beginning of October 2011, Ms. Cole's fibromyalgia symptoms worsened, requiring her to seek medical attention for severe neck pain, numbness, and tingling in her arms and hands. Id. at ¶¶ 7-8. Ms. Cole first consulted with her family doctor who prescribed medication, advised her to take time off from work, and referred her to a neurologist. Id. at ¶¶ 7-8. On October 13, 2011, Ms. Cole consulted with a neurologist, who scheduled an MRI for the next day and advised Ms. Cole not to return to work until the MRI results were received. Id. at ¶ 10. Ms. Cole's Complaint contains no information regarding the results of the MRI or any medical diagnosis related to that test.

Ms. Cole alleges that following her visit to the neurologist, she requested a leave of absence under the FMLA. Major denied that request, informing her that she did not meet the eligibility criteria for FMLA leave. Id. at ¶ 10.[1] Ms. Cole's subsequent requests for a thirty-day leave of absence or reasonable accommodations were also denied. Id. at ¶¶ 11-12.

On October 19, 2011, Ms. Cole was contacted by her supervisor requesting that she schedule a meeting with human resources. That meeting occurred on October 20, 2011, during which Ms. Cole was given a counseling statement to sign which stated that she had previously been warned about her attendance deficiencies. Id. ¶¶ 21-22. Ms. Cole alleges in this lawsuit, however, that she never received the referenced attendance warnings. Id. at ¶ 22. According to her, Major informed her at this meeting that she was required to return to work on October 22, 2011 or face termination, despite having not yet received permission from her doctor to return to work. Id. ¶ 23.

Although Ms. Cole was scheduled to return to work on October 22, 2011, she was unable to do so. Id. at ¶¶ 11, 13, 23. In order to avoid any negative consequences from her failure to appear, Ms. Cole resigned her position. Id. at ¶¶ 13, 23.

Thereafter, Ms. Cole filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and received a "Notice-of-Right-to-Sue" on January 16, 2014. Id. at ¶ 5. She filed this complaint on April 10, 2014. Although the complaint consists of only two denominated counts, the Ms. Cole alleges the following three distinct causes of action: (1) failure to make reasonable accommodations, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); (2) interference with her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA); and (3) retaliation, in violation of Indiana Code 22-5-3-3 ("Indiana Whistleblower Act"). Major seeks dismissal of all of Ms. Cole's claims.

Legal Analysis

I. Standard of Review

Defendant's motion for dismissal for failure to state a claim arises under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).[2]

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorize dismissal of claims for "failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In determining the sufficiency of a complaint, the court considers all allegations in the complaint to be true and draws such reasonable inferences as required in the plaintiff's favor. Jacobs v. City of Chi., 215 F.3d 758, 765 (7th Cir. 2000). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) establishes a liberal pleading regime for civil claims requiring a plaintiff to provide only a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that [she] is entitled to relief, " Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a)(2); this reflects the modern policy judgment, accepted by the Seventh Circuit, that claims should be "determined on their merits rather than through missteps in pleading." E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 779 (7th Cir. 2007) (quotation marks and citation omitted). A pleading satisfies the core requirement of fairness ...

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