Cogan v. Maricopa, County of et al

Filing 30

ORDER - IT IS ORDERED granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 26 ) and dismissing Plaintiff's claims with prejudice. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED directing the Clerk of Court to enter judgment accordingly and close this case. (See document for further details). Signed by Judge John J Tuchi on 2/16/16. (LAD)

Download PDF
1 WO NOT FOR PUBLICATION 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA 8 9 Patrick Cogan, No. CV-14-01704-PHX-JJT Plaintiff, 10 11 v. 12 ORDER Maricopa, County of, et al., 13 Defendants. 14 15 16 Before the Court is the remaining State Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss1 (Doc. 26), 17 to which pro se Plaintiff Patrick Cogan filed a Response (Doc. 28), and Defendants filed 18 a Reply (Doc. 29). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the Motion and 19 dismiss this matter. 20 For purposes of evaluating this Motion, the Court accepts as true all factual 21 allegations in Plaintiff’s Third Amended Complaint (“TAC”). See Clegg v. Cult 22 Awareness Network, 18 F.3d 752, 754 (9th Cir. 1994). In the TAC (Doc. 25), Plaintiff 23 repeats his allegations from the Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 16)—which the Court 24 already examined under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Doc. 24)—and adds 25 factual allegations with regard to his working conditions prior to his resignation. The 26 27 1 28 The “State Defendants” in this matter are the State of Arizona, the Maricopa County Juvenile Probation Department, which is a component of the Superior Court of the State of Arizona, and its employee, Charlotte Shrum, in her official capacity. 1 Court therefore adopts its recitation of Plaintiff’s allegations from its previous Order 2 (Doc. 24), and will simply set forth the additional allegations here. 3 Plaintiff was a Juvenile Probation Officer in Maricopa County, Arizona. On 4 June 27, 2012, two days after Plaintiff returned to work from leave under the Family and 5 Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Plaintiff’s Supervisor, Charlotte Shrum, distributed a new 6 caseload list that increased Plaintiff’s caseload area “from 5 zip codes in Central Phoenix 7 to 23 zip codes covering the north, west and south boundaries of Maricopa County.” 8 (TAC ¶ 11.) Plaintiff’s caseload area was the only one significantly altered among the 9 employees in his work unit. (TAC ¶ 11.) Plaintiff resigned the next day, and his caseload 10 was split up and distributed among the remaining employees in the work unit. (TAC 11 ¶ 11.) Four months later, his caseload was divided and given to two employees. (TAC 12 ¶ 11.) Before quitting, Plaintiff raised his concerns about the increased caseload area to 13 his Supervisor and the Acting Director, Richard Kokes, and he “felt after speaking to 14 [them] there would be no change to the caseload and that the powers that be had no 15 intentions of changing the caseload.” (TAC ¶ 13.) 16 The Court previously dismissed Plaintiff’s claims under Title I of the Americans 17 with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), finding that Plaintiff’s allegations that his caseload area 18 was significantly increased were insufficient to constitute constructive discharge as a 19 matter of law. (Doc. 24.) While the Court gave Plaintiff another opportunity to amend the 20 Complaint—his third—Plaintiff added only the allegations outlined above. Defendants 21 now move to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims under Rule 12(b)(6). (Doc. 26.) 22 Plaintiff again fails to allege sufficient facts for the Court to plausibly conclude 23 that he was constructively discharged under Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case law. In 24 Poland v. Chertoff, the United States Customs Service, the plaintiff’s employer, 25 transferred the plaintiff from Portland, Oregon to Vienna, Virginia—resulting in 26 separation from his family—and took away his supervisory duties. 494 F.3d 1174, 1178 27 (9th Cir. 2007). The plaintiff accepted the transfer but quit his job five months later, three 28 years before his retirement date. Id. The district court concluded that the plaintiff’s -2- 1 reassignment constituted a constructive discharge because “it resulted in separation from 2 his family and demotion to a nonsupervisory position” and a person in the plaintiff’s 3 circumstances “would have reasonably believed the reassignment was a ‘career-ending’ 4 event that compelled him to retire earlier than he planned.” Id. at 1179. 5 The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court, concluding as a matter of law that the 6 plaintiff was not constructively discharged because the record did not show that the 7 plaintiff’s working conditions “were so poor that they trumped his motivation to earn a 8 living.” Id. at 1185. In so holding, the court noted that a finding of constructive discharge 9 cannot be based on an employee’s subjective preferences and does not arise when an 10 employee quits without giving his employer a reasonable chance to work out issues. Id. at 11 1184-85. The constructive discharge inquiry is objective and turns on whether a 12 reasonable person would find the working conditions so intolerable or egregious that the 13 person would feel compelled to resign, not whether the plaintiff subjectively called the 14 conditions “a career ender,” as in Poland, or “egregious,” as in the case now before the 15 Court. See id. 16 Plaintiff’s new allegations in the TAC do nothing to change the Court’s conclusion 17 in its prior Order. (See Doc. 24.) While Plaintiff has added allegations that no other 18 Probation Officer had such an “egregious caseload” and that, after Plaintiff quit, the 19 caseload was divided among multiple Probation Officers, Plaintiff’s underlying 20 allegation—that his caseload territory had increased significantly—still does not rise to 21 the level of constructive discharge when viewed objectively. See Poland, 494 F.3d at 22 1185. Furthermore, while Plaintiff alleges he received no relief from the expanded 23 caseload territory when he raised concerns about it to his Supervisor on the day she 24 assigned it to him, he quit the next day without giving his employer almost any chance to 25 work out any issues with the new assignment. Under the Ninth Circuit precedent, the 26 Court must conclude that Plaintiff’s allegations regarding his work conditions are not 27 sufficient to state a claim based on constructive discharge. 28 -3- 1 If a defective complaint can be cured, a plaintiff is entitled to amend the complaint 2 before the action is dismissed. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127-30 (9th Cir. 3 2000). Here, Plaintiff has had three opportunities to amend the Complaint, and it does not 4 appear that Plaintiff can cure the defects in his claims by amendment. As a result, the 5 Court will dismiss Plaintiff’s claims against Defendants with prejudice. 6 7 8 9 10 IT IS ORDERED granting Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 26) and dismissing Plaintiff’s claims with prejudice. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED directing the Clerk of Court to enter judgment accordingly and close this case. Dated this 16th day of February, 2016. 11 12 Honorable John J. Tuchi United States District Judge 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 -4-

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?