Kinchion v. Cessna Aircraft Company et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER denying as moot 40 Motion to Consolidate ; granting in part and denying in part 13 Motion to Dismiss; granting 23 Motion for Leave to File; granting in part and denying in part 33 Motion to Dismiss; granting in part and denying in part 35 Motion to Dismiss. SEE ORDER FOR DETAILS. Signed by District Judge Monti L. Belot on 1/3/2013. (alm)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS
RONALD K. KINCHION,
CESSNA AIRCRAFT COMPANY, and
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF
MACHINISTS AND AEROSPACE WORKERS,
DISTRICT LODGE NO. 70, and
LOCAL LODGE NO. 774,
CIVIL ACTION ACTION
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Before the court are the following:
1. Defendant Cessna’s Motion for Partial Dismissal of the
Amended Complaint (Docs. 33, 34); Plaintiff’s Response
(Doc. 38); and Cessna’s Reply (Doc. 41);
2. Defendant Int’l. Assoc. of Machinists and Aerospace
Workers Dist. Lodge 70 and Local No. 774 (hereinafter
“union”) Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 35); and Plaintiff’s
Response (Doc. 39); [No Reply filed] and
3. Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File Sur-reply (Doc.
23) ; Plaintiff’s Motion to Consolidate Defendants’
Motions (Doc. 40).
Plaintiff Ronald Kinchion worked approximately 15 years at
Cessna as a small-parts finish painter.
He had a number of health
problems over that time that required medical treatment and leave. In
2011, Cessna disciplined plaintiff several times for alleged poor work
grievances under the machinist union’s collective bargaining agreement
with Cessna. Cessna terminated plaintiff’s employment on January 11,
Plaintiff subsequently filed this action against Cessna and the
union. His amended complaint asserts the following claims: Count 1 unlawful retaliation for filing a worker’s compensation claim; Count
2 - breach of the collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”); Count 3 breach
interference with rights under the Family Medical Leave Act; Count 5 breach of a 2008 settlement agreement between plaintiff and Cessna;
Both defendants now move for partial dismissal of the claims in
the amended complaint.1 Cessna contends Counts 2 and 3 relating to the
CBA should be dismissed because plaintiff fails to plausibly allege
that the union acted in bad faith and because plaintiff has not
arguments as to Count 3, the only count against it. Cessna also
contends Count 5 should be dismissed because it is essentially the
same as Count 1. Count 5 is based on Cessna’s alleged breach of a 2008
settlement agreement in which Cessna promised to “comply with Kansas
law.” Plaintiff contends Cessna breached that agreement by engaging
in the unlawful retaliation identified in Count 1. Cessna argues Count
5 is “entirely derivative” of Count 1 and is “duplicative and
unnecessary.” Finally, as to the ADA claim in Count 6, Cessna contends
Cessna filed a motion to dismiss Counts 2,3 and 5 of the
original complaint. (Doc. 13). After that motion was fully briefed,
plaintiff filed an amended complaint (Doc. 28), with the only change
in the complaint being the addition of Count 6. Cessna then filed a
second motion to dismiss (Doc. 33) which incorporated the same
arguments previously made and added a request to dismiss Count 6.
plaintiff has failed to allege sufficient facts to show he was
disabled or was regarded by Cessna as having a disability.
Motion to dismiss - Rule 12(b)(6) standard
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading
stating a claim for relief must contain “a short and plain statement
of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” “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.’ “ Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” But “dismissal
is appropriate where ‘the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court
to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct.’” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 679. Mere labels and conclusions or the formulaic recitation
of the elements of a cause of action will not suffice. The factual
allegations of the complaint must be enough to raise a right to relief
above the speculative level. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
The following allegations from plaintiff’s amended complaint are
taken as true for purposes of defendants’ motion to dismiss the
Cessna is an aircraft manufacturing company with operations in
Wichita, Kansas. Plaintiff was an employee of Cessna until his
termination on January 11, 2012. Their employment relationship was
subject to a collective bargaining agreement between Cessna and the
District Lodge No. 70 and Local Lodge No. 774.
Plaintiff began employment with Cessna as a small-parts finish
painter in 1997. His job involved frequent, repetitive use of his
hands. From 2004-2006, plaintiff was treated for an on-the-job injury
under the Kansas Workers Compensation Act. The injury involved a cyst
on his right wrist, carpel tunnel syndrome affecting his right wrist,
thumb and two fingers, and tendinitis in his right shoulder. In 2007,
plaintiff sued Cessna, claiming disability discrimination, workers
compensation retaliatory discharge, and Family Medical Leave Act
(FMLA) interference. That suit was dismissed when the parties entered
into “the 2008 Agreement,” pursuant to which Cessna promised to
“comply with Kansas law in all aspects of Kinchion’s continued
employment with Cessna.”
In late 2008, Cessna approved plaintiff’s FMLA intermittent
leave request for a one-year period, approving leave of one time per
month with a duration of 1-2 days per episode. This was granted after
plaintiff submitted a doctor’s certification that he suffered from
conditions including diabetes mellitus type 2, cardiac dysrhythmia,
neuropathy. Cessna thereafter approved plaintiff’s FMLA annual leave
renewals. On February 1, 2011, Cessna approved plaintiff’s FMLA leave
request for the year 2011, granting leave with a frequency of 2-3
times per month with a duration of 1-3 days per episode.
On February 11, 2011, plaintiff filed a new on-the-job injury
claim for a new cyst on his right wrist and pain in the right trigger
finger. A doctor confirmed this diagnosis, imposed work restrictions,
and offered two options: cortisone injections or surgery. Plaintiff’s
supervisor at the time assigned him duties other than spray painting.
In July 2011, a nurse with Cessna Health Services “instructed
[plaintiff] to paint with his left hand,” which plaintiff apparently
plaintiff to do as Cessna instructed. Plaintiff subsequently began
having problems with his left hand, thumb and fingers.
In August 2011, Crystal Simmons was assigned as plaintiff’s
supervisor and “immediately ... began finding fault with Plaintiff’s
On August 18, 2011, plaintiff was appointed as a machinist union
On August 22, 2011, Simmons gave plaintiff a written reprimand
for poor work performance (paint quality). Plaintiff filed a grievance
the next day, August 23, 2011.
September 2011. On September 29, 2011, plaintiff underwent surgery on
his right hand.
On September 30, 2011, Steve Elder, the second shift Plant
Chair, agreed with Cessna to settle plaintiff’s August 23, 2011
plaintiff’s record for two months and plaintiff’s supervisor would
arrange for plaintiff to receive additional training. Plaintiff
alleges that this agreement was made without his knowledge and without
Plaintiff returned to work on October 3, 2011 with the following
restrictions: No painting with right hand; no lifting over 5# with
right hand; no painting over 2.5 hours with left hand; and no lifting
over 15# with left hand.
On October 6, 2011, Simmons assigned plaintiff to the priming
booth and told him to spray paint with his left hand. Simmons
contacted Michelle Rink, an RN in Cessna Health Services (CHS), who
in turn contacted fellow CHS employee Penny Gilbert. Gilbert told
plaintiff that she had just spoken with plaintiff’s doctor and he had
approved plaintiff painting with his right hand at 4-hour intervals.
Plaintiff’s wife contacted the doctor, who said he had not spoken to
anyone about the matter.
On October 7, 2011, Simmons gave plaintiff a written warning
regarding the paint quality of the work he had performed the previous
day. Plaintiff filed a grievance over the warning on October 7, 2011.
Simmons again assigned plaintiff to work in the priming booth.
On October 10, 2011, plaintiff filed a grievance against Simmons
claiming that she made a promotion to crew chief in violation of the
CBA terms. Plaintiff claimed that Simmons promoted a female over three
males (including plaintiff) with more seniority who had expressed
interest in the job and who had not been given the same crew chief
training opportunities that Simmons had arranged for the female
On October 12, 2011, Simmons and the Cessna Human Resources
Director suspended plaintiff for three days for work quality he had
performed on October 7, 2011, claiming there were blisters and drips
on the parts he painted. On October 12, 2011, plaintiff filed a
grievance over the suspension. Plaintiff contends that he and no one
restrictions; that he and no one else had been required to paint with
their non-dominant hand; and that he was singled out for discipline
for paint defects, which he contends are common occurrences that are
usually simply sanded and repainted.
Plaintiff returned to work on October 17, 2011. On October 26,
2011, Penny Gilbert of CHS was informed by a doctor that the hands are
a target for several diabetes-related complications. These may include
“trigger finger” and carpal tunnel syndrome.
From October 28, 2011 to November 28, 2011, plaintiff took an
approved unpaid medical leave of absence.
On December 12, 2011, plaintiff “flame coated” some electrical
junction boxes. He did one side and left the parts to cure, as was
customary. Two days later another painter did the other side and left
the parts to cure. Simmons and the new crew chief took the parts to
a supervisor, who rejected them without knowing that the parts were
not yet finished because they had not been kiln-baked. Simmons and
others called plaintiff in on December 14, 2011, to write him up for
the flame-coat parts. Plaintiff informed them he was not the only
person to paint the parts. The next day, Simmons gave plaintiff notice
of an investigation. On December 16, 2011, Simmons, plaintiff, Elder
and others met for the investigation. It was determined that another
painter had painted one side of the parts and they were unfinished
because they had not yet been kiln-baked. These facts, according to
On December 21, 2011, Simmons suspended plaintiff indefinitely
without pay for poor work quality, verbally alleging that plaintiff
had improperly painted parts on December 20, 2011. On January 11,
2012, Cessna terminated plaintiff’s employment due to the December
21st suspension. On January 13, 2012, plaintiff filed a grievance
concerning his termination.
Plaintiff alleges that Steve Elder, the union Plaint Chair, made
various comments to him during January and February 2012 about the
status of his grievances, most of which he said were at “Step 2” of
the process. On February 27, 2012, Elder informed plaintiff that
Cessna had denied his grievance and he said he was sending it to Step
Under the CBA, Cessna and the union agreed to settle all
grievances under a four-step process, ranging from informal verbal
discussion to a written complaint with investigation, hearing and
replies. If a grievance remained unsettled after Step 4, it could be
appealed to arbitration by either the company or the union. The CBA
provides that the decision of the arbitrator “shall be final and
binding upon the Company, the Union and the grievant(s) involved.”2
On March 9, 2012, plaintiff was informed that Becky Ledbetter,
a union Business Representative, still had not received the grievance
files from Elder. Later in March of 2012, plaintiff was told by
Although the CBA was not attached to the complaint, it is
referred to by plaintiff and is central to his claims. Additionally,
he does not challenge the accuracy of the CBA provisions cited by
Cessna. The court therefore can consider the CBA without converting
this to a summary judgment motion. GFF Corp. v. Wholesale Grocers,
Inc., 130 F.3d 1381, 1384 (10th Cir. 1997); Munno v. Town of Orange,
391 F.Supp.2d 263, 269 (S.D.N.Y. 2005) (CBA was central to plaintiff’s
Ledbetter that she would be talking to Cessna’s Human Resources and
that “they would be getting this all taken care of.” In early April
Ledbetter told plaintiff that Cessna was still investigating the
situation. Later in April, Ledbetter told him Cessna was now talking
about plaintiff’s attendance, claiming he had been given 13 verbal
warnings regarding attendance. Plaintiff informed Ledbetter this was
not true, pointing out that he had been on approved FMLA leave and had
missed work due to an on-the-job injury for which he received an
approved medical leave of absence under the union contract. Ledbetter
told plaintiff “to be patient” as she addressed the allegations.
provisions of the CBA contain various time
limitations. Plaintiff’s allegations suggest that his grievances may
grievances are apparently still pending.3 The CBA allows the parties
to mutually agree in writing upon extensions of time in the grievance
process. The pleadings are silent on whether the parties mutually
agreed to extend the CBA time limits.
On May 3, 2012, plaintiff’s doctor released him to return to
work with lifting restrictions that were within the essential task
range for his position.
Plaintiff alleges that Cessna suspended and terminated him in
violation of the CBA and that it failed to comply with the CBA
Cessna asserted in a reply brief that “since the filing of the
instant lawsuit the Union and Cessna have entered into Step 4 of the
grievance process” and plaintiff thus “still has an opportunity to
bring his grievances before an arbitrator.” (Doc. 22 at 4, n.4).
Plaintiff misconstrues this as asserting that the matter was submitted
to arbitration and says “Plaintiff has not been so informed,” although
counsel for the union allegedly told plaintiff “that arbitration was
going to be filed ‘soon.’” (Doc. 23-1 at 1, n.1)
procedures for discipline and grievances. He alleges that the union
breached its duty to fairly represent him by failing to properly
pursue the foregoing grievances.
Counts 2 & 3 - Breach of CBA; Breach of Duty of Fair Representation
Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) gives
federal district courts jurisdiction to hear claims for breach of a
collective bargaining agreement between an employer and a labor union.
29 U.S.C. § 185. Plaintiff relies on this provision in suing both
Cessna for violation of the CBA (Count 2) and the machinist’s union
for violation of the duty of fair representation (Count 3). Each of
plaintiff to prove the same three elements: (1) conduct by the union
that violated its duty of fair representation; (2) a causal connection
arbitration/grievance process; and (3) a violation of the CBA by the
employer. Webb v. ABF Freight System, Inc., 155 F.3d 1230, 1239 (10th
Cir. 1998). See DelCostello v. Int’l. Broth. of Teamsters, 462 U.S.
151, 163-64 (1983); Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171, 186 (1967).
The requirement that a plaintiff must prove the union’s breach
of duty in order to sue the employer is related to the CBA’s grievance
provisions. Because most CBAs (including this one) require exhaustion
ordinarily has to exhaust such remedies before bringing suit.4 See
Courts also have discretion to require exhaustion of internal
union appeal procedures when those procedures can result in complete
relief to the employee or reactivation of a grievance without undue
delay to the employee’s opportunity for a judicial hearing. Clayton
Republic Steel Corp. v. Maddox, 379 U.S. 650, 653 (1965) (“Congress
has expressly approved contract grievance procedures as a preferred
method for settling disputes and stabilizing the ‘common law’ of the
plant.”); Hines v. Anchor Motor Freight, Inc., 424 U.S. 554, 562-63
(1976) (“Courts are not to usurp those functions which collectivebargaining contracts have property ‘entrusted to the arbitration
But the exhaustion requirement is excused in some circumstances,
including when the union has prevented the employee from utilizing the
grievance process by breaching its duty of fair representation. Garvin
v. American Tel. & Telegraph Co., 174 F.3d 1087, 1093 (10th Cir.
1999). Plaintiff alleges that he is excused from the exhaustion
requirement because the union breached its duty to him by “failing to
properly pursue” his grievances.
statutory position as exclusive bargaining representative of the
employee. The duty renders the union liable for conduct that is
“arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith.” Schwartz v. Broth. of
Maint. Of Way Employees, 264 F.3d 1181, 1185 (10th Cir. 2001)
arbitrary conduct – which occurs when a union’s “behavior is so far
outside a wide range of reasonableness as to be irrational.” Schwartz,
264 F.3d at 1185.
The “perfunctory” handling of a meritorious grievance can rise
v. Int’l. Union, United Auto., Aerospace, and Agr. Impl. Workers of
Am., 451 U.S. 679 (1981). None of the parties claim that plaintiff
should have invoked such procedures in the instant case.
to the level of arbitrary conduct. Vaca, 386 U.S. at 190 (“we accept
the proposition that a union may not arbitrarily ignore a meritorious
grievance or process it in perfunctory fashion”). This occurs if the
union acts “without concern or solicitude” or gives a claim only
“cursory attention,” instead of making a prompt and diligent effort
to get a grievance heard. Webb, 155 F.3d at 1240. For example, in Webb
the union hurt the plaintiff’s reinstatement chances by failing to
file a grievance it believed to be meritorious, failing to follow its
regular grievance practice, misleading the plaintiff by telling him
that his presence at the hearing was not needed and then misleading
the grievance panel as to why plaintiff was absent, and disparaging
plaintiff in front of the grievance panel and contradicting his
account of events. Webb, 155 F.3d at 1240, n.14.
See also Walker v.
(“Malicious or egregious delay in pursuing plaintiff’s rights can
violate the Vaca proscription.”); Ruzicka v. General Motors Corp., 649
F.2d 1207, 1211-12 (6th Cir. 1981) (union’s conduct is arbitrary when,
without justification or excuse, it makes no decision as to the merits
of an individual's grievance and merely allows it to expire). But a
plaintiff claiming breach of the union’s duty must demonstrate that
the union’s actions constitute more than “mere errors in judgment” or
“mere negligence.” Hinkley v. Roadway Exp., Inc., 249 Fed.Appx. 13,
17, 2007 WL 2709936 (10th Cir. 2007) [citations omitted].
Any substantive examination of a union’s performance must also
be “highly deferential,” recognizing the wide latitude the union needs
in dealing with its members and performing its role. See Air Line
Pilots Ass’n., Int’l. v. O’Neill, 499 U.S. 65, 78 (1991). Moreover,
an employee does not possess any absolute right to have a grievance
taken to arbitration, and a union does not breach its duty merely
because it decides to settle a grievance short of arbitration. Vaca,
386 U.S. at 190-91.
Plaintiff’s claim appears to be based entirely on what he
characterizes (in a sur-reply brief) as “a flagrant disregard of the
grievance procedure time limits set forth in the collective bargaining
agreement.” Doc. 23-1 at 5. But the Amended Complaint lacks a
sufficient factual basis for such a conclusion. It is true the CBA
contains fairly narrow time limits and a “time is of the essence”
provision stating that a grievance “will automatically be decided
against the party who fails to comply with such limits,...” (Doc. 14-1
at p.38). But there is an exception when “an extension of time limits
is mutually agreed upon in writing by the parties.” The complaint does
not address whether any extensions of time were agreed upon by the
parties. Nor does it set forth any facts about the normal course of
grievances or common delays in the process, such as delays caused by
a need for further investigation.
In addition to an absence of key facts, several allegations in
the amended complaint tend to refute the claim that the union treated
plaintiff’s grievances in a perfunctory manner. The allegations show
expressed a continuing intent to pursue plaintiff’s grievances, they
communicated with plaintiff about the status of the grievances.
Plaintiff’s factual allegations essentially stop in April of 2012 when
the union representative told plaintiff “to be patient” as she dealt
with Human Resources over Cessna’s new claim of unexcused absences.
Neither the original complaint filed in June of 2012 nor the amended
complaint filed in August of 2012 discuss the status of the grievances
or the union’s conduct (or lack thereof) after April of 2012. The
complaint indicates that some of the delay complained of was caused
by Cessna’s need for investigation, a delay to which the union
apparently acceded. (See Doc. 28, ¶¶82-85).
Cessna represents that plaintiff’s grievance was moved to Step
4 by early August 2012 and that plaintiff “will soon be able to bring
his claim in arbitration.” (Doc. 22 at 4). The union has likewise
asserted that the grievances “have not been closed and are still in
progress.” (Doc. 36 at 1). The complaint is silent on these matters.
Clearly, plaintiff’s grievances have been delayed, but there are no
allegations that either party to the CBA has claimed a violation of
the agreement’s time limits. Significantly, there are also no facts
alleging that the claimed breach of duty by the union has in any way
plaintiff’s grievances. Cf. Webb, 155 F.3d at 1229 (elements of claim
grievance process); Clayton v. Int’l. Union, United Auto., Aerospace,
and Agr. Impl. Workers of Am., 451 U.S. 679, 691, n.18 (1981)
consistent with the time limitations of CBA).
It is incumbent upon the plaintiff to allege sufficient facts
“to raise a right to relief above the speculative level....” Twombly,
500 U.S. at 555. Where 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 679. That is the case here. Plaintiff’s
facts raise the possibility that the union has failed to process the
grievances in accordance with the CBA time limits. But the amended
complaint leaves out material allegations, including the status of the
grievances as of the filing of the amendment, the union’s conduct
after April 2012, and the cause or asserted reason for any delays. The
mere fact of a delay, standing alone, does not show the union breached
its duty to fairly represent plaintiff. See e.g., Balderas v. Cessna
Aircraft Corp., 2003 WL 1342942, *6 (D. Kan., Mar. 12, 2003) (“[t]he
fact that arbitration was delayed does not, on its own, justify
finding a breach of the duty of fair representation”); Dobrski v. Ford
Motor Co., 698 F.Supp.2d 966, 991 (N.D. Ohio 2010) (without additional
information, alleging that a union did not sufficiently pursue a
grievance is “legally insufficient to support a claim for breach of
the duty of fair representation”);
Smith v. United Steel Workers of
Am., 2007 WL 2477345, *10 (S.D. W.Va., Aug. 29, 2007) (“While not
ideal, the six and a half month period between step three and step
perfunctory, or otherwise arbitrary conduct necessary for a successful
breach of the duty of fair representation claim.”); Mathis v. CWA
Local Union 4320, 2011 WL 3497189, *5 (S.D. Ohio, Aug. 9, 2011)
(allegations that union took no action on grievance for three months
and that delay was unwarranted failed to state claim for breach of
The court agrees with defendants that plaintiff has failed to
allege sufficient facts to show the union has breached its duty of
fair representation. As such, plaintiff’s failure to exhaust the
grievance/arbitration process is not excused. Counts 2 and 3 will be
dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust the contractual
remedies of the CBA.
Count 5 - Breach of Contract
Cessna argues Count 5 should be dismissed because it is entirely
“duplicative” of Count 1. Count 5 alleges a breach of the parties’
2008 Settlement Agreement, in which Cessna promised to comply with
Kansas law in all aspects of plaintiff’s continued employment. Count
5 alleges that Cessna breached that promise by violating plaintiff’s
rights under the Kansas workers compensation laws. Count 1 separately
seeks to recover under Kansas tort law for the same violations of
workers compensation rights.
Defendant is correct insofar as it suggests plaintiff will not
be able to obtain duplicate recovery for the same injury by asserting
different legal theories. See Aguilar v. Balano, 241 P.3d 601 (Table),
2010 WL 4668333, *4 (Kan.App. 2010) (double recovery not permitted for
the same injury based on two theories). And it would make little sense
to submit both claims to a jury, given that to prevail on Count 5
plaintiff would have to prove all the elements of Count 1 plus an
agreement not to violate the workers compensation laws. See Hamdy v.
County of Niagara, 2007 WL 295325 (W.D.N.Y., Jan. 30, 2007) (“It would
be cumulative, a waste of time and too confusing to submit essentially
the same claim to the jury based upon two different theories.”) But
Cessna has not shown that recovery under a breach of contract theory
is precluded as a matter of law or that dismissal of the claim is
necessarily required.5 The motion to dismiss Count 5 will therefore be
denied. Cf. Dobyns v. United States, 91 Fed.Cl. 412, 421 (Fed.Cl.
2010) (settlement agreement by design afforded plaintiff a contractual
remedy should ATF, in the future, not comply with all laws regarding
or affecting his employment). But see McGee v. Dist. of Columbia, 646
F. Supp. 2d 115, 121 (D.D.C. 2009) (“Courts typically dismiss contract
Count 6 - ADA claim
Count 6 of the amended complaint alleges that plaintiff was
terminated in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The complaint’s allegations relating to this claim more or less
consist of the statutory language. Cessna contends plaintiff has not
plausibly alleged enough facts to show that he has a disability or
that Cessna regarded him as having a disability.
The ADA, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101–12213, prohibits covered employers
from discriminating against qualified employees on the basis of a
individual: (a) a physical or mental impairment that substantially
limits one or more major life activities of such individual; (b) a
record of such impairment; or (c) being regarded has having such an
impairment. § 12102(1)(A).
Unlike Foodbrands Supply Chain Servs., Inc. v. Terracon Inc.,
2003 WL 23484633, *6 (D. Kan. 2003), these two claims are not based
entirely on the same set of facts. The terms of the 2008 Settlement
Agreement show that it was designed to supplement or reinforce
plaintiff’s existing rights under Kansas law by offering a contractual
The ADA (as amended in 2008)6 provides that a “major life
activity” includes not only such things such as breathing, walking,
talking and working,
but also the operation of a major bodily
function, including the immune, digestive, respiratory, endocrine,
musculoskeletal and other systems. The term “substantially limits” is
not meant to be a demanding standard. See 29 C.F.R. §1630.2(j). An
impairment qualifies as a disability if it substantially limits the
ability of an individual to perform a major life activity as compared
to most people in the general population, even if it does not
significantly or severely restrict the individual from performing the
activity. The determination is ordinarily to be made without regard
to ameliorative measures, including medication. An impairment that is
episodic is considered a disability if it would substantially limit
a major life activity when active. §1630(j).
As Cessna points out, plaintiff basically concedes the amended
complaint does not identify any major life activity or major bodily
function that is substantially limited by an impairment. (Doc. 38 at
9). He argues such facts are unnecessary because the complaint
elsewhere mentioned that he was diagnosed with diabetes. Plaintiff
says the regulations identify diabetes and its effect on endocrine
function as the type of impairment that “will, in virtually all cases,
result in coverage under the ADAAA.” (Doc. 38 at 9). He makes a
similar argument with respect to other diagnosed conditions mentioned
The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 was passed “with the explicit
purpose of rejecting certain standards and reasoning of Supreme Court
opinions regarding interpretation of the ADA and ‘reinstating a broad
scope of protection to be available under the ADA.’” Allen v.
SouthCrest Hosp., 455 Fed.Appx. 827, 834, 2011 WL 6394472 (10th Cir.
in the complaint.
The regulations do provide that certain impairments, including
diabetes, will “in virtually all cases” result in a finding of a
“particularly simple and straightforward.” 29 C.F.R. 1630.2(3). If
plaintiff is relying on such an impairment and its substantial
limitation on his endocrine function, he merely has to allege as much
in the complaint. But the defendant should not have to guess at the
basis for the claim of disability discrimination. Kansas Penn Gaming,
LLC v. Collins, 656 F.3d 1210, 1215 (10th Cir. 2011) (Twombly pleading
standard ensures that a defendant is placed on notice of his alleged
Parroting the statutory language without any supporting facts
[Doc. 28 at ¶¶ 114-117] is exactly what the Supreme Court had in mind
when it said the complaint must do more than give “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555. Detailed facts are not required, but a valid claim must
contain a showing of an entitlement to relief. Plaintiff’s unexplained
allegations that he has an impairment that substantially limits a
major life activity, or a record of such an impairment, fail to meet
this standard. Sprague v. Kasa Indus. Controls, Inc., 250 F.R.D. 630,
633 (D.Kan. 2008) (plaintiff alleged that as a result of a back injury
she “has an impairment which substantially limits one or more major
life activities, a record of such an impairment, and plaintiff was
regarded by defendant as having such an impairment. This is no more
than a formulaic recitation of the definition of disability under the
ADA that the Twombly court stated ‘will not do.’”); Mora v. University
of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 469 Fed.Appx. 295, 297-298, 2012
WL 745101, 2 (5th Cir. 2012) (plaintiff did not specify which of her
life activities is substantially limited; “[t]his is fatal to stating
a valid claim for relief.”).
Plaintiff’s additional “regarded as” disabled claim does not
necessarily require him to allege or show that he has an impairment
or that it limits a major life activity. But it does require a showing
that Cessna subjected him to a prohibited action “because of an actual
or perceived impairment that is not both ‘transitory and minor.’” 29
C.F.R. §1630.2(g)(1)(iii). Plaintiff’s “regarded as” allegations,
which also merely repeat the statutory language, do not adequately
state the factual basis for this claim. Smith v. Regional Plan Ass'n,
Inc., 2011 WL 4801522, 5-6
(S.D.N.Y., Oct. 7, 2011) (merely alleging
that plaintiff’s employer “perceived Plaintiff as a disabled person”
not sufficient under Twombly).
Plaintiff has requested leave to amend the complaint if the
court finds his ADA allegations insufficient. (Doc. 38 at 12).
Because plaintiff’s brief shows that the inadequacies in Count 6 could
be cured, the court will grant his request for leave to amend the
In light of the showing made by plaintiff in his brief, the
absence of unfair surprise to the defendants, and the preference for
resolution of claims on the merits, the court will consider
plaintiff’s request as a motion for leave to amend and will excuse
plaintiff’s failure to comply with D. Kan. R. 15.1. Cf. Calderon v.
Kansas Dept. of Soc. and Rehab. Servs., 181 F.3d 1180, 1186-87 (10th
Motions to Dismiss (Docs. 13, 33, and 35) are GRANTED IN PART and
DENIED IN PART. Counts 2 and 3 of the Amended Complaint are dismissed
without prejudice for failure to exhaust remedies under the CBA. The
motions to dismiss are denied as to Count 5.
Cessna’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is
granted as to Count 6 of the Amended Complaint, but plaintiff is
granted 14 days from the filing of this order to file an amended
complaint curing the pleading deficiencies in Count 6.
Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to file Surreply (Doc. 23) is
granted. The court has considered the surreply in this ruling.
Plaintiff’s Motion to Consolidate (Doc. 40) is denied as moot.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated this 3rd day of January 2013, at Wichita, Kansas.
Monti L. Belot
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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