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Greene v. YRC, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

December 12, 2013

RANDY L. GREENE, Plaintiff
v.
YRC, INC., (d/b/a/ YRC FREIGHT), Defendant

Page 645

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 646

For Randy L. Greene, Plaintiff: John B Stolarz, LEAD ATTORNEY, The Stolarz Law Firm, Baltimore, MD.

For YRC, Inc., trading as YRC Freight, Defendant: Bernard P Jeweler, Joleen Okun, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak and Stewart PC, Washington, DC.

OPINION

Marvin J. Garbis, United States District Judge.

Page 647

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: MOTION TO DISMISS

The Court has before it Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [1] [Document 19] and the materials submitted relating thereto. The Court finds a hearing unnecessary.

I. BACKGROUND[2]

Plaintiff Randy L. Greene (" Plaintiff" or " Greene" ) was employed by YRC Inc. (" Defendant" or " YRC Freight" ) from 2002 until 2012. On October 26, 2012, YRC Freight terminated Greene's employment. On January 31, 2013, Plaintiff the instant lawsuit in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland. On February 28, 2013, Defendant timely removed the case to federal court.

In the Amended Complaint [Document 16], Green presents claims in three counts:

Count One: Interference with Family Medical Leave Act (" FMLA" ) Rights, 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq.
Count Two: Retaliation for Exercising FMLA Rights
Count Three: Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981

By the instant motion, Defendant seeks dismissal of all claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

II. DISMISSAL STANDARD

A motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)[3] tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. A complaint need only contain " 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (alteration in original) (citations omitted). When evaluating a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations are accepted as true and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. However, conclusory statements or " a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not [suffice]." Id. A complaint must allege sufficient facts " to cross 'the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

Page 648

Inquiry into whether a complaint states a plausible claim is " 'a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Thus, if " the well-pleaded facts [contained within a complaint] do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not 'show[n]' - 'that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (alteration in original)).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Family Medical Leave Act

1. Alleged Facts

From 2002 until October 26, 2012, Plaintiff was employed by YRC Freight as a truck driver. In or around 2011, Plaintiff began receiving treatment for high blood pressure from his primary care physician Dr. Carl W. Brango.[4] Prior to October 26, 2012, " Plaintiff visited Dr. Brago [sic] approximately every three months to monitor his high blood pressure and medical condition." [Document 16] at 1. Dr. Brango prescribed Plaintiff two blood pressure medications and one cholesterol medication, all of which Plaintiff was taking as of October 26, 2012.

When he arrived at work at Defendant's Baltimore Terminal on October 26, 2012, Plaintiff and his supervisor Gary Chapman (" Chapman" ) had a fifteen-minute discussion " about a pay shortage" that left Plaintiff " experience[ing] pain and pressure in the chest, stomach pains, severe stress and anxiety resulting, and shaking of the hands." Id. at 1-2. The " pressure" in Plaintiff's " chest, stomach pain, stress, and anxiety" did not abate as Plaintiff prepared his truck for an out-of-state delivery. Id. at 2.

Believing that these symptoms impaired his ability to make the long-distance delivery, Plaintiff asked a fellow employee to inform Chapman that he was experiencing chest pain, chest pressure, and anxiety that substantially impaired his ability to make the scheduled delivery and that he was going home to seek medical treatment. Roughly seven minutes after speaking with his fellow employee, Plaintiff telephoned Chapman directly:

advis[ing] him that Plaintiff was feeling pain and pressure in his chest and a lot of stress and anxiety, and did not feel medically able to drive a commercial vehicle, that he was going home to obtain medical treatment with his primary care physician, and that he would have a doctor's note for him.

Id.

Plaintiff was examined by Dr. Brango that day - October 26, 2012. Dr. Brango " determined that [Plaintiff's] blood pressure was elevated and recommended that the Plaintiff take one week off from work. Documentation from [Dr. Brango] was faxed over to Gary Chapman [that afternoon]." [5] Id. The note from Dr. Brango stated:

RANDY GREENE was seen in the office on Oct 26, 2012.
He is having health issues..
Excused for period from 10/26/2013 to 11/4/2012.

Page 649

RANDY should return to work on 11/5/2012.
Restrictions: None.

[Document 8] at 2.

Chapman telephoned Plaintiff later in the afternoon on October 26, 2012. Chapman informed Plaintiff that " [his] leaving the premises" was being treated " as a voluntary quit." [Document 16] at 2. " Plaintiff understood this to mean that he was terminated and that he should not return to work." Id. Chapman neither discussed the note from Dr. Brango, nor requested additional documentation from Plaintiff. " After his termination Plaintiff requested appropriate FMLA forms from the Defendant to document his FMLA request," but Defendant refused to provide the forms. Id.

2. Interference Claim (Count I)

Under the FMLA, " an eligible employee shall be entitled to a total of 12 workweeks of leave during any 12-month period . . . [b]ecause of a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the position of such employee." 29 U.S.C. § 2612(a)(1)(D). It is " unlawful for any employer to " interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of or the attempt to exercise, any right provided under [the FMLA]." Id. § 2615(a)(1).

To establish unlawful interference with an entitlement to FMLA benefits, an employee must prove that:
(1) she was an eligible employee;
(2) her employer was covered by the statute;
(3) she was entitled to leave under ...

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