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Badillo v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division

June 19, 2017

ELISEO BADILLO, Plaintiff,
v.
LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY and SAFECO INSURANCE COMPANY OF ILLINOIS, Defendants.

          ORDER

          PAUL G. BYRON UNITED STATE DISTRICT JUDGE

         This cause comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint and Incorporated Memorandum of Law (Doc. 5), filed February 15, 2017. On March 6, 2017, Plaintiff responded in opposition. (Doc. 12). Upon consideration, the Court will grant in part and deny in part Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND [1]

         In February 2004, Plaintiff, Eliseo Badillo (“Badillo”), began working for Defendant, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company (“Liberty Mutual”), as a Sales Representative. (Compl. ¶ 12). In this position, Badillo sold Liberty Mutual's insurance policies over the telephone to the general public. (Id. ¶ 13). Defendant, Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois (“Safeco”), became Badillo's employer in 2012, although Liberty Mutual continued to provide human resources services. (Id. ¶¶ 5, 22).

         In 2005, Badillo was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (“MS”). (Id. ¶ 16). “MS is a chronic autoimmune disease of the central nervous system” that produces “various neurologic symptoms” throughout the body, requiring continued medical treatment. (Id. ¶ 17). “MS is often characterized by a pattern of exacerbation and remission-in other words, the symptoms come[] and go[], also characterized as ‘flare-ups.'” (Id.). During a flare-up, Badillo experiences fatigue, muscle weakness, impaired memory, and impaired movement. (Id. ¶ 18).

         Badillo informed Liberty Mutual about his disease shortly after his diagnosis, and Badillo sought and took medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) a few days each month during flare-ups. (Id. ¶ 20). As his symptoms worsened over time, Badillo took more leave under the FMLA. (Id. ¶ 21). Liberty Mutual ultimately demoted Badillo and reduced his salary in 2010, (id.), and Badillo claims that Defendants failed to provide reasonable accommodations as requested, (id. ¶ 43). Badillo believes that Defendants took these actions because of his disease and exercise of FMLA leave. (Id. ¶ 21).

         Badillo initiated this lawsuit in state court on January 8, 2017, and Defendants subsequently removed. Badillo asserts three counts in his Complaint. In Count I, Badillo alleges that Defendants violated the Florida Civil Rights Act (“FCRA”) by discriminating against him due to his disease. In Count II, Badillo alleges that Defendants violated the FCRA by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation. In Count III, Badillo alleges that Defendants violated the FCRA by retaliating against him for engaging in statutorily protected activity. Defendants now move to dismiss Badillo's claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).[2]

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the legal sufficiency of the plaintiff's complaint. In order to survive the motion, the complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is plausible on its face when the plaintiff alleges enough facts to “allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The mere recitation of the elements of a claim is not enough, and the district court need not give any credence to legal conclusions that are unsupported by sufficient factual material. Id. District courts must accept all well-pleaded allegations within the complaint and any documents attached thereto as true and must read the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Hunnings v. Texaco, Inc., 29 F.3d 1480, 1484 (11th Cir. 1994) (per curiam).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Defendants raise five issues in their Motion to Dismiss, which the Court addresses in turn.

         A. Whether Badillo's Complaint is a “Shotgun” Pleading

         First, Defendants challenge the Complaint as an impermissible “shotgun” pleading. In Weiland v. Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, 792 F.3d 1313 (11th Cir. 2015), the Eleventh Circuit outlined four types of “shotgun” complaints which require dismissal:

The most common type-by a long shot-is a complaint containing multiple counts where each count adopts the allegations of all preceding counts, causing each successive count to carry all that came before and the last count to be a combination of the entire complaint. The next most common type . . . is a complaint . . . replete with conclusory, vague, and immaterial facts not obviously connected to any particular cause of action. The third type of shotgun pleading is one that commits the sin of not separating into a different count each cause of action or claim for relief. Fourth, and finally, there is the relatively rare sin of asserting multiple claims against ...

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