United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
REBECCA BEACH SMITH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the court on the Defendant's Motion
to Dismiss, ECF No. 7, and accompanying Brief in Support, ECF
No. 8, filed on December 3, 2018. The Plaintiff filed a
Memorandum of Law in Opposition ("Opposition") on
December 12, 2018. ECF No. 10. The Defendant filed a Reply on
December 18, 2018. ECF No. 12. The Motion to Dismiss has been
fully briefed and is now ripe for review.
filed his Complaint in this court on October 24, 2018, ECF
No. 1, and filed an Amended Complaint on November 15, 2018,
ECF No. 6. The facts set forth herein are taken from
Plaintiff Matthew Sturgill's ("Sturgill")
Amended Complaint and are accepted as true for the purpose of
deciding Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. See,
e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679
April 16, 2018, Sturgill applied for a conductor position
with Defendant Norfolk Southern Railway Co. ("Norfolk
Southern"). Am. Compl. ¶ 6. Norfolk Southern
offered Sturgill the position on May 30, 2018. Id.
¶ 7. Following a pre-employment physical, Norfolk
Southern withdrew the offer. Id. ¶ 8. In the
letter notifying Sturgill of the withdrawal, Norfolk Southern
cited Sturgill's body mass index ("BMI") as the
sole reason for the withdrawal. Id. In that letter,
Norfolk Southern further stated that "during [his]
examination, [Sturgill] indicated that [he] did not have an
underlying physiological condition that could cause
obesity." Id. ¶ 10 (alterations in
original). Sturgill alleges he "made no such
has "primary male hypogonadism, which is an underlying
physiological [sic] condition that not only causes his
obesity but also substantially limits his ability to enjoy
and live a fulfilled life, if left untreated." IcL
¶ 11. "Primary male hypogonadism does not, however,
prevent Sturgill from performing any of the essential
functions of a conductor." Id. ¶ 12.
Therefore, Sturgill alleges that when Norfolk Southern
withdrew the job offer because of Sturgill's BMI, Norfolk
Southern Opp'n at 7; Reply at 14 n.2, the court will not
consider those facts at this stage. See Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(d) ("If, on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) or 12(c),
matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not
excluded by the court, the motion must be treated as one for
summary judgment under Rule 56."). discriminated against
Sturgill on the basis of his disability, in violation of the
Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C.
§ 1210 et seq., as amended. IcL ¶¶ 1,
claims that "Norfolk Southern's policy arises from a
concern that employees with a high body mass index will
develop sleep apena, diabetes, and/or heart disease and
become incapacitated." Id. ¶ 14. Thus,
Sturgill alleges that Norfolk Southern also discriminated
against him on the basis of a perceived disability in
violation of the ADA. Id. ¶ 15. Sturgill
further alleges that "Norfolk Southern has engaged in a
pattern and practice of violating the ADA." Id.
¶ 16 (citing EEOC v. Norfolk Southern Corp.,
No. 2:17-cv-1251 (W.D. Penn.)). Sturgill also alleges violations
of the ADA for the withdrawal of the job offer, and he
requests that the court find Norfolk Southern acted in direct
violation of the ADA. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 17-26. As
remedies for these violations, Sturgill requests that he be
reinstated and awarded compensatory and punitive damages.
Id. ¶ 27.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
to Rule 12(b) (6), a complaint must be dismissed when a
plaintiff's allegations "fail to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). "A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests
the sufficiency of a complaint; importantly, it does not
resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a
claim, or the applicability of defenses." Republican
Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir.
1992) . "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). Facial plausibility means that a "plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged." Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). It is, therefore, not
enough for a plaintiff to allege facts demonstrating a
"sheer possibility" or "mere
consist[ency]" with unlawful conduct. Id.
(citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557) .
Supreme Court, in Twombly and Iqbal,
offered guidance to courts evaluating a motion to dismiss:
In keeping with these principles a court considering a motion
to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that,
because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled
to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can
provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported
by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual
allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then
determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement
Id. at 679. That is, the court accepts facts alleged
in the complaint as true and views those facts in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff. See, e.g.,
Venkatraman v. REI Sys., Inc., 417 F.3d 418, 420
(4th Cir. 2005). After doing so, the court should grant the
defendant's motion if the plaintiff's
"well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer
more than the mere possibility of misconduct," because
"the complaint has alleged- but it has not
'show[n]' - 'that the pleader is entitled to
relief.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting
to 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a), "No covered entity shall
discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of
disability in regard to job application procedures, the
hiring ... or discharge of employees, . . . and other terms,
conditions, and privileges of employment." Id.
To establish a prima facie case of employment discrimination
under the ADA, a plaintiff must prove (1) he has a
"disability," (2) he is a "qualified
individual," and (3) his employer took an adverse
employment action against him because of his disability.
Martinson v. Kinney Shoe Corp., 104 F.3d
683, 686 (4th Cir. 1997).
defines "disability" in three ways. See 42
U.S.C. § 12102(1). First, an individual has a disability
if he or she has "a physical or mental impairment that
substantially limits one or more major life activities of
such individual." Id. § 12102(1) (A).
Second, an individual has a disability if he or she has
"a record of such an impairment." Id.
§ 12102(1) (B). Third, an individual has a disability if
he or she is "regarded as having such an
impairment." Id. § 12102(1) (C) .
Sturgill claims he has a disability under the ADA'S first
and third definitions of "disability." Am. Compl.
¶¶ 1, 11, 14-15, 18-19. Specifically, Sturgill
alleges his condition, primary male hypogonadism, is a
physical impairment that "substantially limits his
ability to enjoy and live a fulfilled life, if left
untreated." Id. ¶ 11. Sturgill also
alleges that Norfolk Southern regarded him as being disabled
because Norfolk Southern is "concern[ed] that employees
with a high body mass index will develop sleep apena,
diabetes, and/or heart disease and become
incapacitated." Id. ¶¶ 14-15.
Primary Male ...