United States District Court, S.D. Florida, Miami Division
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS AND ORDER DISMISSING
COMPLAINT WITH PREJUDICE
FEDERICO A. MORENO JUDGE
disability discrimination case, Plaintiff Barbara Garcia
alleges in her Second Amended Complaint that her former
employer, Defendant Goodwill Industries of South Florida,
Inc., violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the
Florida Civil Rights Act by terminating Garcia's
employment while she suffered from a heart condition.
Goodwill Industries filed a Motion to Dismiss (D.E. 20),
asking the Court to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint with
prejudice, for failing to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted. Garcia insists that her allegations both comply
with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and plausibly
allege violations of federal and state law.
COURT has considered the Motion to Dismiss, the Response in
Opposition, the Reply, the pertinent portions of the record,
and being otherwise fully advised in the premises, it is
ADJUDGED that the Motion is
GRANTED because Garcia's allegations do
not plausibly allege that she suffered a covered disability
under the American's with Disabilities Act, or that she
was disabled at the time of her adverse employment decision.
Furthermore, the Complaint is DISMISSED WITH
PREJUDICE because the Second Amended Complaint fails
to cure pleading deficiencies previously identified by the
Court, and because any further amendment would be futile.
2016, Plaintiff Barbara Garcia was employed by Defendant
Goodwill Industries. Around July 4, 2016, Garcia went to the
hospital after "experiencing chest pains." (D.E. 19
at ¶ 19.) While at the hospital she was diagnosed with
"being in the early stages of a heart attack."
Id. Garcia's doctors wrote her two medical notes
that took her off work until August 18, 2016. She provided
both doctor's notes to her employer, Goodwill Industries,
who accepted the notes. On August 18, 2016, during a
scheduled follow-up appointment, Garcia received a new note
from her doctor that kept her off work until August 22, 2016.
When Garcia gave this doctor's note to Goodwill
Industries, her manager "tore up the note."
Id. at ¶ 24.
August 19, 2016, a different doctor wrote Garcia a new
medical note stating that she showed "signs of a
transient stroke, uncontrolled blood pressure, and coronary
artery disease." Id. at ¶25. This medical
note also stated that Garcia's medical condition was
"unstable" and that she "should avoid lifting
anything more than lOlbs." Id. Once more,
Garcia provided the medical note to Goodwill Industries.
According to Garcia, her "medical condition
substantially limited her ability to go to work, a major life
activity." Id. at ¶ 34.
on August 23, 2016, Garcia showed up for work at Goodwill
Industries "with her uniform on ready to work and get
back on the job," but was turned away by her manager who
informed her that she was not allowed to work. Id.
at ¶¶ 26-28. It was not until August 26, 2019 that
Garcia received a letter (dated August 24, 2016) formally
notifying her that her employment was
pleading that states a claim for relief must contain ... a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). 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.'"
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (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."
Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
"While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a
complaint, they must be supported by factual
allegations." Id. at 679. Detailed factual
allegations are not required, but a complaint must offer more
than "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic
recitation of the elements of the cause of action."
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted). The
factual allegations must be enough to "raise a right to
relief above the speculative level." Id.
(citations omitted). Finally, at the motion to dismiss stage,
the Court must view the allegations in the complaint in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept well-pleaded
facts as true. See St. Joseph's Hosp., Inc. v. Hosp.
Corp. of Am., 795 F.2d 948, 954 (11th Cir. 1986).
thrust of Garcia's Second Amended Complaint is that
Goodwill Industries violated the Americans with Disabilities
Act and the Florida Civil Rights Act when it decided to
terminate Garcia's employment based on a heart condition
(i.e. her disability), while she still suffered from
the heart condition. Goodwill Industries argues that
Garcia's disability discrimination claims under these
Acts should be dismissed because: (1) Garcia fails to allege
facts establishing that her alleged disability is covered
under these Acts; and (2) even assuming Garcia can establish
she suffered a covered disability, she fails to allege facts
showing she was disabled at the time of her adverse
outset, disability discrimination claims under the Florida
Civil Rights Act are analyzed using the same framework as
claims under the Americans with Disability Act. See Holly
v. Clairson Indus., L.L.C., 492 F.3d 1247, 1255 (11th
Cir. 2007) (citing D'Angelo v. ConAgra Foods,
Inc., 422 F.3d 1220, 1224 n.2 (11th Cir. 2005)).
Consequently, to state a claim for disability discrimination
under both Acts, Garcia must allege factual matter showing
that she: (1) had a disability; (2) was qualified, with or
without reasonable accommodations; and (3) was unlawfully
discriminated against because of her disability. Albright
v. Columbia Cty. Bd. of Educ, 135 Fed.Appx. 344, 345
(11th Cir. 2005) (citing Rossbach v. City of Miami,
371 F.3d 1354, 1356-57 (11th Cir. 2004) (citing 42 U.S.C.
§ 12112(a))). Here, Goodwill Industries's arguments
for dismissal focus only on the first prong, which includes
whether Garcia suffered a covered disability and whether she
suffered the covered disability at the time her employment
American's with Disabilities Act forbids covered entities
from discriminating "against a qualified individual on
the basis of disability in regard to ... the hiring,
advancement, or discharge of employees . .. and other terms,
conditions, and privileges of employment." 42 U.S.C.
§ 12112(a). The Act defines "disability" as
"a physical or mental impairment that substantially
limits one or more major life activities of such
individual" or "being regarded as having such an
impairment." See § 12102(1)(A), (C). The
Act goes on to define "major life activities" to
include "caring for oneself, performing manual tasks,
seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing,