United States District Court, D. Maine
LEVY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Jason Cook alleges that his former employers, Defendants
MaineHealth and NorDx ("Defendants"), violated his
rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and
Reemployment Rights Act ("USERRA"), 38 U.S.C A.
§ 4301 et seq. (2018); the Federal Family
Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C A. § 2601
et seq. (2018); the Maine Family Medical Leave
Requirements Law ("MFMLR"), 26 M.R.S.A § 843
et seq. (2018); the Maine Human Rights Act
("MHRA"), 5 M.R.S.A § 4571 et seq.
(2018); and the Employment Retirement Income Security Act
("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C.A § 1001 et seq.
(2018). The Defendants filed a Partial Motion to Dismiss (ECF
No. 9), moving to dismiss Count IV of Cook's Complaint
which alleges a violation of the MHRA as barred by the
statute of limitations and for failing to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.
United States Magistrate Judge, John C. Nivison, filed his
Recommended Decision (ECF No. 17) with the Court on April 17,
2018, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.A. § 636(b)(1)(B) and
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). The Magistrate Judge recommended
dismissing Cook's MHRA claim related to Cook's
employment with NorDx as time- barred. See ECF No.
17 at 12. The Magistrate Judge otherwise recommended denying
the Motion, concluding that Cook had adequately stated a
claim under the MHRA. See Id. at 5-7. A hearing on
the Recommended Decision was held on June 12, 2018.
reviewing and considering the Magistrate Judge's
Recommended Decision, together with the entire record and the
attorneys' arguments at the hearing, I have made a de
novo determination of all matters adjudicated by the
Magistrate Judge's Recommended Decision. I concur with
and adopt the Magistrate Judge's conclusion that
Cook's MHRA claim based on his employment with NorDx is
time-barred and should be dismissed. For the reasons
explained below, I disagree with the Recommended
Decision's conclusion that Cook adequately stated a MHRA
claim arising out of Cook's employment with Maine Medical
NorDx and MMP are subsidiaries of Defendant MaineHealth. Cook
worked in a laboratory for NorDx from May 2014 to July 2015
when his employment was terminated. After his termination
from NorDx, Cook worked for MMP until his termination in
November 2015. Cook suffers from a disability he acquired
while on active duty with the United States Army, which he
asserts caused him to be absent from work beyond what was
allowed by the employee leave policy while employed by NorDx.
Cook alleges that in disciplining him for violating the leave
policy, the Defendants violated the MHRA by failing to
accommodate his disability, failing to engage in an
interactive process, and requiring that he undergo a medical
examination, and also retaliated against him in response to
his request for an accommodation. Cook's allegations
against NorDx comprise over fifty paragraphs in the
Complaint. See ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 36-90.
Cook's substantive allegations against MMP comprise a
single paragraph: "MaineHealth rehired Mr. Cook to work
at MMP, but fired him in November of 2015 for reasons that
demonstrate disability discrimination similar to the
allegations set forth above." Id. at ¶ 92.
survive a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a
complaint "must contain sufficient factual matter to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."
Saldivar v. Racine, 818 F.3d 14, 18 (1st Cir. 2016)
(quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009)) (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted).
In analyzing whether Cook adequately pled a MHRA claim
concerning his employment with MMP, the Recommended Decision
applied the notice pleading standard that preceded the
Supreme Court's landmark decisions in Twombly
and Iqbal. In light of those decisions, while a
complaint need not set forth "detailed factual
allegations, " Bell Ail. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007), "it must nonetheless 'contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.'" SEC
v. Tambone, 597 F.3d 436, 442 (1st Cir. 2010) (en banc)
(quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Applying this
standard requires two steps: first, "'isolate and
ignore statements in the complaint that simply offer legal
labels and conclusions or merely rehash cause-of-action
elements[, ]'" and second, "take the facts of
the complaint as true, 'drawing all reasonable inferences
in [the plaintiffs] favor, and see if they plausibly narrate
a claim for relief" Carrero-Ojeda v. Autoridad de
Energia Electrica, 755 F.3d 711, 717 (1st Cir. 2014)
(quoting Schatz v. Republican State Leadership
Comm., 669 F.3d 50, 55 (1st Cir. 2012)). "In
evaluating plausibility, particularly in the employment
discrimination context, courts should be mindful of the facts
the plaintiff is likely to know, versus the facts that are
likely out of the plaintiffs reach at the pleading
stage." Brady v. Bath Iron Works Corp., No.
2:16-cv-4-NT, 2016 WL 3029948, at *2 (D. Me. May 25, 2016)
(citing Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506,
allegation in the Complaint against MMP-namely, that it
"fired him in November of 2015 for reasons that
demonstrate disability discrimination similar to the
allegations set forth above"-states a legal conclusion.
ECF No. 1 at ¶ 92. Apart from this conclusory statement,
there are no factual allegations that demonstrate a basis for
relief against MMP. Thus, the Complaint fails to set forth
sufficient factual matter that narrates a plausible claim for
disability discrimination related to his employment by MMP.
See Tambone, 597 F.3d at 442.
therefore ORDERED that the Recommended Decision (ECF No. 17)
of the Magistrate Judge is hereby ADOPTED IN PART, with
regard to its recommendation that Cook's MHRA claim based
on his employment with NorDx be dismissed as time-barred. It
is further ORDERED that Cook's MHRA claim based on his
employment with MMP is dismissed for failure to state a
claim. Count IV of the Complaint is therefore ORDERED
dismissed in its entirety. However, Cook is GRANTED LEAVE ...