Coleman v. Maricopa Integrated Health System et al

Filing 18

ORDER granting 17 Defendants Maricopa Integrated Health System, Susan Myers, Virginia Martinez, Beverly Smith, and Daunn Smith's Motion to Dismiss. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Counts Three, Four, Five, Six, and Seven of 7 Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint are dismissed with prejudice. Signed by Judge Neil V Wake on 6/16/11.(LSP)

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1 WO 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 ) ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) vs. ) ) Maricopa Integrated Health System, et al.,) ) ) Defendants. ) ) Herb Coleman, No. CV-10-02398-PHX-NVW ORDER 15 16 17 Before the Court is Defendants Maricopa Integrated Health System, Susan Myers, 18 Virginia Martinez, Beverly Smith, and Daunn Smith’s Second Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 17). 19 Defendants’ motion was filed on May 23, 2011; accordingly, Plaintiff’s response to the 20 motion was due June 9, 2011. LRCiv. 7.2(c); Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(d). The Court has not 21 received a response from Plaintiff. Although failing to respond is grounds to grant the 22 motion summarily, see LRCiv. 7.2(i), the Court will also grant Defendants’ motion on the 23 merits for the reasons stated below. 24 I. Background 25 Plaintiff originally filed his complaint on November 5, 2010, with a motion for leave 26 to proceed in forma pauperis (Docs. 1, 3). The Court granted Plaintiff in forma pauperis 27 status, but screened his complaint pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (Doc. 6). On January 28 3, 2011, Plaintiff filed his first amended complaint (Doc. 7). Plaintiff’s amended complaint 1 contains seven causes of action: “(1) Defendant MIHS’ Violation of Title VII’s Prohibition 2 Against Employment Discrimination Gender Discrimination -- Disparate Treatment; (2) 3 Defendant MIHS’ Violation of Title VII’s Prohibition Against Employment Discrimination 4 Racial Discrimination -- Disparate Impact; (3) Defendant MIHS’ Breach of Contract and/or 5 Promissory Estoppel; (4) Defendant Myers, Martinez, B. Smith individually and in their 6 capacity as supervisors - Negligence; (5) All Defendants - Intentional Infliction of Emotional 7 Distress; (6) Defendant Myers and Defendant D. Smith, individually - Intentional 8 Interference with a Contractual Relationship; and (7) All Defendants - Defamation” (Doc. 9 7). All of Plaintiff’s complaints relate to alleged wrongs stemming from his employment 10 with and dismissal from Defendant Maricopa Integrated Health System. 11 Defendants filed their first motion to dismiss on April 14, 2011 (Doc. 10). Although 12 Plaintiff failed to respond to the motion, the Court denied Defendants’ motion without 13 prejudice on May 19, 2011 (Doc. 13). On that same day, the Court received a motion from 14 Plaintiff seeking additional time to respond to Defendants’ motion to dismiss (Doc. 15), 15 which the Court denied as moot (Doc. 16). Defendants filed a second motion to dismiss on 16 May 23, 2011 (Doc. 17); no response has been received from Plaintiff. 17 II. Legal Standard 18 To survive a Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must “state a 19 claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) 20 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is plausible if it 21 contains sufficient factual matter to permit a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable 22 for the conduct alleged. Id. “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability 23 requirement,’ but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted 24 unlawfully.” Id. All allegations of material fact are assumed to be true and construed in the 25 light most favorable to the non-moving party. Cousins v. Lockyer, 568 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th 26 Cir. 2009). However, the principle that a court accepts as true all of the allegations in a 27 complaint does not apply to legal conclusions or conclusory factual allegations. Iqbal, 129 28 S. Ct. at 1951. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere -2- 1 conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) can therefore be 2 based on “the lack of a cognizable legal theory” or “the absence of sufficient facts alleged 3 under a cognizable legal theory.” Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep’t, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th 4 Cir. 1990). 5 III. Analysis 6 Defendants have moved to dismiss Counts Three through Seven of Plaintiff’s first 7 amended complaint for failure to state a plausible claim for relief. Defendant asserts that 8 Plaintiff’s claims are barred because (1) Plaintiff failed to submit notice of his state law 9 claims as required by A.R.S. § 12-820.01; (2) Plaintiff’s state law claims are barred by the 10 one-year statute of limitations for actions against public entities and employees; and (3) 11 Plaintiff cannot assert his Title VII claims against the individual defendants. The Court 12 agrees with the arguments set forth in Defendants’ motion to dismiss and will accordingly 13 grant the motion. 14 1. 15 Counts Three through Seven of Plaintiff’s first amended complaint all allege state law 16 causes of action against Maricopa Integrated Health System and/or its employees.1 A.R.S. 17 § 12-821.01(A) states that “[p]ersons who have claims against a public entity or a public 18 employee shall file claims with the person or persons authorized to accept service for the 19 public entity or public employee . . . within one hundred eighty days after the cause of action 20 accrues.” This notice of claim must include “(1) facts sufficient to permit the public entity 21 to understand the basis upon which liability is claimed, (2) a specific amount for which the 22 claim can be settled, and (3) the facts supporting the amount claimed.” Backus v. State, 220 23 Ariz. 101, 104, 203 P.3d 499, 502 (Ariz. 2009). Notice of Claims 24 25 26 27 28 1 Maricopa Integrated Health System is a group of health care institutions operated by the Maricopa County Special Health Care District, and is therefore a public entity. See A.R.S. § 48-5501.01(D); see also Carey v. Maricopa County, 602 F. Supp. 2d 1132, 1143-44 (D. Ariz. 2009). The individual defendants were all employees of Maricopa Integrated Health System during the relevant period, and are as such public employees. -3- 1 Because Plaintiff’s employment with Maricopa Integrated Health System ended on 2 July 31, 2007, he was required to file his notice of claim by January 27, 2008. See A.R.S. 3 § 12-821.01(A). There is no evidence that Plaintiff ever provided Maricopa Integrated 4 Health System or the employee defendants with the required notice of his state law claims 5 against them. Plaintiff cannot pursue his claims against Maricopa Integrated Health System 6 or its employees unless he has complied with the notice provision in A.R.S. § 12-821.01(A). 7 See Deer Valley Unified School Dist. No. 97 v. Houser, 214 Ariz. 293, 295, 152 P.3d 490, 8 492 (Ariz. 2007) (“Claims that do not comply with A.R.S. § 12-821.01.A are statutorily 9 barred.”). For this reason, Counts Three through Seven — which allege breach of contract 10 and/or promissory estoppel, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and 11 defamation — will all be dismissed. 12 2. 13 Defendants next state that Counts Three through Seven should be dismissed because 14 Plaintiff’s complaint was untimely filed. A.R.S. § 12-821 requires “[a]ll actions against a 15 public entity or public employee” to be “brought within one year after the cause of action 16 accrues and not afterward.” Plaintiff’s claims relate to his employment with and dismissal 17 from Maricopa Integrated Health System, which occurred on July 31, 2007. Accordingly, 18 Plaintiff’s claims accrued by July 31, 2007; therefore, he should have filed his complaint by 19 July 31, 2008. However, Plaintiff’s complaint was not filed until November 5, 2010. 20 Plaintiff has provided no explanation for his failure to comply with the relevant limitations 21 period. Because Plaintiff’s state law claims were filed after the statute of limitations on such 22 causes of action had expired, Defendant’s motion to dismiss Counts Three through Seven 23 will be granted. 24 3. 25 Finally, Defendants have argued that, to the extent Plaintiff’s complaint attempts to 26 assert claims against the individual employee defendants for violations of Title VII, those 27 claims fail because individual employees are not liable under Title VII. See, e.g., Walsh v. 28 Nevada Dept. of Human Res., 471 F.3d 1033, 1037 (9th Cir. 2006). However, Counts One Statute of Limitations Individual Employee Defendant Liability Under Title VII -4- 1 and Two of Plaintiff’s complaint, which allege his Title VII causes of action, specifically 2 name Maricopa Integrated Health System as the offending and liable party under Title VII. 3 Therefore, there is no need to dismiss Counts One and Two against the individual employee 4 defendants because those claims do not name them and are directed at Maricopa Integrated 5 Health System only. 6 ‘Defendants’ in plural form” and refers to Maricopa Integrated Health System’s “supervisory 7 personnel” in Counts One and Two (Doc. 17 at 6 n.4), dismissal of Counts One and Two is 8 against the individual employee defendants is necessary. Therefore, to the extent Plaintiff’s 9 complaint could be read as directing Counts One and Two at the individual employee 10 defendants, Defendants’ motion will be granted because individual employees are not liable 11 under Title VII. See Miller v. Maxwell’s Intern. Inc., 991 F.2d 583, 587-88 (9th Cir. 1993) 12 (noting “individual defendants cannot be held liable for damages under Title VII” and 13 dismissing Title VII claims against defendants in their individual capacities). 14 IV. However, Defendants assert that because Plaintiff “refers to Leave to Amend 15 Leave to amend should be freely given “when justice so requires.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 16 15(a)(2). However, leave to amend “need not be given if a complaint, as amended, is subject 17 to dismissal.” Moore v. Kayport Package Exp., Inc., 885 F.2d 531, 538 (9th Cir. 1989). 18 “Futility of amendment can, by itself, justify the denial of a motion for leave to amend.” 19 Bonin v. Calderon, 59 F.3d 815, 845 (9th Cir. 1995). Plaintiff’s allegations in Counts Three 20 through Seven are clearly barred by the relevant statute of limitations, A.R.S. § 12-821, and 21 by Plaintiff’s failure to comply with the notice of claims provision in A.R.S. § 12-821.01. 22 Therefore, no leave to amend will be granted. 23 IT IS ORDERED that Defendants Maricopa Integrated Health System, Susan Myers, 24 Virginia Martinez, Beverly Smith, and Daunn Smith’s Second Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 17) 25 is granted. 26 /// 27 /// 28 /// -5- 1 2 3 IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Counts Three, Four, Five, Six, and Seven of Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint (Doc. 7) are dismissed with prejudice. DATED this 16th day of June, 2011. 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 -6-

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