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Sutton v. Globe Energy Services, LLC

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

January 11, 2019

ROBERT SUTTON, Plaintiff,
v.
GLOBE ENERGY SERVICES, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint (Motion), filed on August 20, 2018. (Doc. 19). Defendant filed a Preliminary Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint on August 21, 2018, and a Substantive Response Opposing Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint on August 30, 2018. (Docs. 20 and 21). Having considered the Motion, the proposed First Amended Complaint for Employment Discrimination, and the accompanying briefing, the Court denies the Motion to Amend.

         I. Procedural History

         Plaintiff alleges in his proposed First Amended Complaint (FAC) that Defendant employed him from June 21, 2012, until January 9, 2015. (Doc. 19) at 3, ¶ 5. Sometime in November 2014, Plaintiff became ill and was later diagnosed with a ruptured ulcer in his abdomen, necessitating emergency surgery. Id. at 4, ¶¶ 6-7. Defendant placed Plaintiff on paid leave while Plaintiff recovered from surgery and until Plaintiff returned to work on January 8, 2015. Id. at 4, ¶¶ 8-9. Plaintiff returned to work with doctor's orders to perform light work duty, which Plaintiff provided to his supervisor. Id. at 4, ¶ 10.

         When Plaintiff returned to work on January 8, 2015, Defendant tasked him with lifting tools weighing over 100 pounds and traveling to four or five locations on rough roads. Id. at 4, ¶ 11. At some point that day, Plaintiff informed his supervisor that he could not make any more trips. Id. at 4, ¶ 12. Plaintiff's supervisor directed Plaintiff to obtain a doctor's note if he could not complete a full day's work. Id. Plaintiff visited his doctor that day, and the doctor gave Plaintiff a note explaining that Plaintiff should life no more than ten pounds and avoid jarring movements. Id. at 4, ¶ 13. Plaintiff returned to work later that day but was unable to give the note to his supervisor. Id. at 5, ¶ 16. Instead, Plaintiff was instructed to meet with Glenn Coates the next morning. Id.

         Plaintiff met with Mr. Coates the next day, January 9, 2015. Id. at 5, ¶ 17. Mr. Coates asked Plaintiff to resign. Id. Plaintiff refused, and Defendant thereafter fired him. Id. at 5, ¶ 18. At some later time, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Id. at 5, ¶ 19. On April 26, 2017, he received a Notice of Right to Sue. Id. at 5, ¶ 20.

         On July 19, 2018, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's Complaint for failure to state a claim and granted Plaintiff thirty (30) days to file a motion for leave to amend his Complaint. (Doc. 17) at 10-11. Plaintiff timely moved to amend his complaint as follows. (Doc. 19). First, the proposed FAC contains a single claim: that Defendant discriminated against Plaintiff in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Id. Factually, Plaintiff seeks to add ¶ 14, alleging that “Plaintiff's physical impairments were anticipated to last longer than six months.” Id. at 4. Plaintiff also moves to include ¶¶ 15 and 23, which both state that “Plaintiff's physical impairments prevented him from performing the essential functions of his job, however, Plaintiff could have performed those function[s] of his job if a reasonable accommodation would have been made by Defendant.” Id. at 5.

         Defendant opposes the Motion on the basis that Plaintiff's new allegations are conclusory, rendering the amendment futile because the FAC would be subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim. (Doc. 21).

         II. Standard of Review

         Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2), “a party may amend its pleadings only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave.” As the Tenth Circuit has explained,

Rule 15(a) provides that leave to amend “shall be freely given when justice so requires.” Refusing leave to amend is generally only justified upon a showing of undue delay, undue prejudice to the opposing party, bad faith or dilatory motive, failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, or futility of amendment.

Frank v. U.S. West, Inc., 3 F.3d 1357, 1365-66 (10th Cir. 1993) (citations omitted).

         A proposed amendment is futile if the complaint, as amended, would be subject to dismissal for any reason, including that the amendment would not survive a dispositive motion such as a Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Gohier v. Enright, 186 F.3d 1216, 1218 (10th Cir. 1999).

         In deciding whether a claim is subject to a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court must accept all well-pleaded allegations as true and must view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Zinermon v. Burch, 494 U.S. 113, 118 (1990); Swanson v. Bixler, 750 F.2d 810, 813 (10th Cir. 1984). Rule 12(b)(6) requires that a complaint set forth the grounds of a plaintiff's entitlement to relief through more than labels, conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).

         To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to state a plausible claim of relief. Id. at 570. A claim is facially plausible if the plaintiff pleads facts sufficient for the court to reasonably infer that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ...


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