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Davis v. Delta Airlines, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

November 5, 2019

Laura Davis, Plaintiff,
v.
Delta Airlines, Inc., Defendant.

          ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          Robert N. Scola, Jr. United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's motion to dismiss the Plaintiff's complaint. (ECF No. 32.) The Plaintiff filed an opposition (ECF No. 37) and the Defendant timely replied (ECF No. 47.) Having considered the record, the parties' submissions, and the applicable law, the Court grants the Defendant's motion. (ECF No. 32.)

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Laura Davis is a Purser and Flight Leader for Defendant Delta Airlines. (ECF No. 31 at ¶ 1.) On October 16, 2016, while reporting for work, Davis slipped and fell, hitting the back of her head. (Id. at ¶ 10.) This injury resulted in severe head trauma, loss of memory, joint and musculoskeletal injuries, and substantially limited one or more of life's major activities. (Id.) The accident also exacerbated Davis' previous mental health condition. (Id. at ¶ 11.)

         After the accident, Davis took leave pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for several months. (Id. at ¶ 14.) Davis alleges that she returned to work “where she was subsequently discriminated and retaliated against on the basis of her disability and for exercising her rights in taking FMLA leave.” (Id. at ¶ 18.) The Plaintiff could not return to work “without restrictions.” (Id. at ¶ 20.) Therefore, Plaintiff requested a reasonable accommodation “to obtain treatment for flare-ups and symptoms related to Plaintiff's qualified disabilities.” (Id. at ¶ 20.) These accommodations included allowing Plaintiff “to choose her schedule and being paid at a higher rate than other stewards.” (Id. at ¶ 58.)

         On Davis' first day back at work, her supervisor confronted her about her “Managed Time Outs” while she was out on medical leave. (Id. at ¶ 22.) The Plaintiff complained about the discriminatory and retaliatory treatment. (Id. at ¶ 26.) Approximately one month later, a New York based Manager “incessantly” called Davis to ask her about a complaint he received about the Plaintiff mishandling her “Fast Track Cards.” (Id. at ¶ 28.) The Plaintiff claims that this was a hostile work environment. (Id. at ¶ 31.)

         On September 19, 2017, Plaintiff's manager, Bernard Rawls, and Human Resources Manager, Emily Langholz, suspended Davis without pay for misuse of her “Buddy Passes” in 2014 and 2015. (Id. at ¶ 6.) On October 19, 2017, Rawls and Vikas George, Davis' supervisor, terminated Davis for the “pretextual reason of misusing her Buddy Passes.” (Id. at ¶ 41.)

         The Plaintiff now brings suit against the Defendant for discrimination and retaliation under the ADA, interference and retaliation under the FMLA, and various state law claims. (ECF No. 31.) The Defendant moves to dismiss the Plaintiff's complaint in its entirety.

         II. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires “a short and plain statement of the claims” that “will give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the ground upon which it rests.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). The Supreme Court has held that “[w]hile a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations omitted).

         “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 (2009) (quotations and citations omitted). “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.” Id. Thus, “only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss.” Id. at 1950. When considering a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept all of the plaintiff's allegations as true in determining whether a plaintiff has stated a claim for which relief could be granted. Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984). For purposes of Rule 12(b)(6), a court generally may not look beyond the pleadings, which includes any information attached to a complaint. U.S. ex. Rel. Osheroff v. Humana, Inc., 776 F.3d 805, 811 (11th Cir. 2015) (internal citations omitted).

         III. Analysis

         A. Count I - Discrimination and Failure to Accommodate under ADA

         The Defendant moves to dismiss Count I arguing that the Plaintiff's complaint fails to allege well pleaded facts demonstrating that the Plaintiff is disabled and was terminated because of her disability. (ECF No. 32 at 4-5.) The Plaintiff disagrees and responds by arguing that she has indeed ...


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