Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Cottam v. Walgreen Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida

January 14, 2020

ADA COTTAM, Plaintiff,
WALGREEN CO., Defendant.



         This cause comes before the Court on Defendant Walgreen Co.'s (“Walgreens”) Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim. (Doc. 13). Plaintiff filed a Response in opposition. (Doc. 15). The Motion is ripe for review.


         The dispute in this case arises from Plaintiff's May 24, 2018 termination and the events leading up to the termination. (Doc. 6 at 12). Plaintiff began her career with Walgreens in 1984 as a janitor and advanced to the position of Senior Continuous Improvement Engineer until the time of her termination. (Id. at 2-4). Plaintiff alleges that before her termination, she informed a Human Resources (“HR”) manager that Walgreens' Orlando, Florida distribution facility was improperly storing temperature sensitive products in a non-climate-controlled building called “Orsat.” (Id. at 5-8). After informing the HR manager of these issues, Plaintiff claims that she began to experience exclusion, ostracization, and complaints about her work performance. (Id. at 9-10).

         Plaintiff further alleges that as a result of “having her reputation destroyed and being setup for termination, ” she began to experience severe stress and anxiety, resulting in chest pain, nausea, and frequent vomiting. (Id. at 11). Plaintiff alleges that she developed swallowing difficulties and gastroesophageal reflux disease during this time. (Id.). As a result, Plaintiff was hospitalized between February 11 and February 13, 2018 for severe chest pains and was later diagnosed with depression. (Id.). Plaintiff asserts that she sought the assistance of medical professionals, including a psychiatrist, and was required to use her paid time off to undergo esophageal surgery. (Id. at 11-12). Plaintiff was subsequently terminated on May 24, 2018. (Id. at 12).

         After her termination, on June 28, 2018, Plaintiff executed and filed a Charge of Discrimination (“Charge”) with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). (Doc. 6-1 at 1). The Charge detailed Plaintiff's allegations about the workplace events that led to her stress and subsequent physical ailments. (Id. at 3). Plaintiff alleged that her disability requests for accommodation and appeals had been consistently denied. (Id. at 3). While Plaintiff admitted that her initial unpaid leave request was granted, she asserted that her other requests for reasonable accommodations, including a paid leave request, were denied despite providing a note from her primary care physician indicating the need for leave. (Id.). Plaintiff received her right to sue on August 22, 2018. (Doc. 6-2 at 1).

         Plaintiff originally filed her Complaint on October 7, 2019 in the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court, in and for Orange County, Florida. (Doc. 101). Walgreens subsequently removed the case to this Court on November 15, 2019 based on federal question jurisdiction. (Id.). Thereafter, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint with this Court, setting forth claims under the Private Sector Whistleblower Act (Count One), the Florida Civil Rights Act (“FCRA”) (Count Two), and Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) interference (Count Three). (Doc. 6).


         When deciding a motion to dismiss based on failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must accept as true the factual allegations in the complaint and draw all inferences derived from those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Randall v. Scott, 610 F.3d 701, 705 (11th Cir. 2010). “Generally, under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint need only contain ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id. (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). However, the plaintiff's complaint must provide “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Thus, the Court is not required to accept as true a legal conclusion merely because it is labeled a “factual allegation” in the complaint; it must also meet the threshold inquiry of facial plausibility. Id.

         III. ANALYSIS

         Walgreens moves to dismiss Plaintiff's FCRA claim for failure to allege facts to support a prima facie case of disability discrimination and failure to accommodate, applying the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Plaintiff argues that her Amended Complaint sufficiently provides notice to Walgreens of her claims and that she should be entitled to proceed with discovery on these issues.

         A. Prima facie case of discrimination under the ADA

         Walgreens argues that Plaintiff has not made sufficient allegations, other than formulaic recitations of the legal standard, that establish a prima facie case of discrimination under the FCRA, applying ADA caselaw. As Walgreens noted in its Motion, “disability-discrimination claims under the FCRA are analyzed using the same framework as ADA claims.” 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). “In order to establish a prima facie case of discrimination under the ADA, a plaintiff must demonstrate that [she] (1) is disabled, (2) is a qualified individual, and (3) was subjected to unlawful discrimination because of [her] disability.” Greenberg v. BellSouth Telecomms., Inc., 498 F.3d 1258, 1263 (11th Cir. 2007) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). “The term ‘disability' means, with respect to an individual - (A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual; (B) a record of such an impairment . . .; or (C) being regarded as having such an impairment . . . ” 42 U.S.C. § 12102(1). “[M]ajor life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.” 42 U.S.C. § 12102(2).

         Walgreens does not currently dispute Plaintiff's allegation that she is disabled or that she was subjected to unlawful discrimination because of her ability. Walgreens moves to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint for her failure to allege that she was qualified to perform the essential functions of her position. In support, Walgreens points to Plaintiff's EEOC Charge of Discrimination. (Doc. 6-1 at 3). The Charge stated that Plaintiff provided Walgreens' disability provider with documentation to obtain benefits, including a signed form sent directly from her primary care physician which included the request for disability leave with no return-to-work date, as it was unknown ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.