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Cash v. Magic City Motor Corp.

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

January 20, 2017

JOSEPH GREGORY CASH, Plaintiff,
v.
MAGIC CITY MOTOR CORPORATION, Defendant.

          Hon. Glen E. Conrad Judge.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Chief United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Joseph Gregory Cash ("Cash") brings this action against his former employer, Magic City Motor Corporation ("Magic City"), alleging discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq. The case is currently before the court on Magic City's motion to dismiss plaintiffs amended complaint. For the reasons stated, the court will grant in part and deny in part the defendant's motion to dismiss.

         Background

         The following facts, taken from the plaintiffs amended complaint, are accepted as true for purposes of the defendant's motions to dismiss. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).

         From September of 2010 through August of 2013, Cash worked at Magic City's Roanoke location as a Service Director. Am. Comp. ¶ 8. He left for another employment opportunity, but came back on April 19, 2015 to work as a Service Advisor at Magic City's Lexington location. Id. ¶ 8-9. Throughout the duration of his employment, Cash was a model employee and received positive feedback. Id. ¶ 10.

         On May 17, 2015, a day when Cash was not working, he felt ill. Id. ¶ 11. He contacted his supervisor and requested the next day off, a request which was granted. Id. ¶ 13-14. Cash's physician excused him from work from May 18, 2015 until June 8, 2015. Id. ¶ 15. Cash was diagnosed with a bleeding ulcer, which required endoscopic surgery and various tests. At all relevant times, Cash and his wife were in communication with a supervisor at Magic City, Jay Zane ("Zane"), regarding Cash's condition. Cash also informed Zane and others that he suffered from anemia and that the bleeding ulcer prevented Cash from effectively treating his anemia. Id. ¶ 16-19.

         On or around June 9, 2015, Cash returned to work with a note from his physician, asking Magic City to allow Cash to work full-time in Roanoke or, in the alternative, half days from Cash's regular Lexington location. Id. ¶ 20. In response, Zane confronted Cash and told him that his position in Lexington would be filled by someone else. Id. ¶ 23. Zane also stated that Cash's salary would decrease from $1, 250.00 per week to $800.00 per week. Id. ¶ 24-26. Cash requested the opportunity to return to the Lexington location at his original salary once his condition improved, which Zane denied. Id. ¶ 24, 26. At some point, Zane also accused Cash of being unable to work for a period of time in April of 2012 when Cash had his hip replaced. Id. ¶ 25. Cash stopped working on or around June 19, 2015, as he could not make ends meet with the reduced salary. Id. ¶ 28-29.

         On April 21, 2016, Cash filed a four-count complaint alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq. On July 1, 2016, the court held a hearing on defendant's motion to dismiss. The court granted plaintiffs oral motion for leave to amend and took under advisement defendant's motion to dismiss. On July 30, 2016, plaintiff filed a five-count amended complaint, alleging: (1) discrimination; (2) discriminatory discharge; (3) failure to accommodate; (4) retaliation; and (5) discrimination for being "regarded as" having a disability. The matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for review.

         Standard of Review

         "The purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to test the sufficiency of a complaint." Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). When deciding a motion to dismiss under this rule, the court must accept as true all well-pleaded allegations and draw all reasonable factual inferences in the plaintiffs favor. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); see also Vitol. S.A. v. Primerose Shipping Co.. 708 F.3d 527, 539 (4th Cir. 2013). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "require [] only 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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly. 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Accordingly, "[w]hile a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiffs 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." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal citation and quotation marks omitted). To survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, . to 'state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly. 550 U.S. at 570). "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not 'shown'-'that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Iqbal. 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a)(2)).

         Discussion

         The ADA, as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (the "ADAAA"), prohibits discrimination "against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to . .. the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, . . . and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment." 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a). A qualified individual is one who "with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds or desires." 42 U.S.C. § 12111(8). A "disability" means "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual; ... a record of such impairment;... or being regarded as having such an impairment." 42 U.S.C. § 12102. "[M]ajor life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working." Id. § 12102(2)(A). Whether a plaintiff is disabled is a question of law for the court. See Hooven-Lewis v. Caldera. 249 F.3d 259, 268 (4th Cir. 2001) ("Whether [the plaintiff] meets the definition of the statute, and therefore can bring a claim under the statute, is a question of law for a court, not a question of fact for a jury."). Pursuant to the ADAAA and its regulations, the definition of disability "shall be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals." 42 U.S.C. § 12102(4)(A).

         I. Discrimination in ...


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