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Robinson v. Cardinal Construction, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division

April 9, 2014

CRAIG ROBINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CARDINAL CONSTRUCTION, INC., Defendant.

ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND

JON STUART SCOLES, Magistrate Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the Motion for Leave to Amend Petition (docket number 13) filed by Plaintiff Craig Robinson on March 11, 2014, the Resistance (docket number 14) filed by Defendant Cardinal Construction, Inc. on March 28, and the Reply (docket number 16) filed by Robinson on April 4. Pursuant to Local Rule 7. c, the motion will be decided without oral argument.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On December 5, 2012, Plaintiff Craig Robinson filed a Petition at Law in the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, seeking judgment against his former employer, Defendant Cardinal Construction, Inc. Robinson claims that Cardinal discriminated against him due to a perceived disability, in violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act (Iowa Code chapter 216) and the Americans With Disabilities Act. Cardinal removed the action to this court on December 17, 2012.

Also on December 17, Robinson filed an amendment petition at law in state court. The amended petition was identical in all respects to Robinson's initial petition, with the addition of allegations regarding the Notice of Rights to Sue received from the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, dated December 6, 2012. Cardinal filed an answer to the amended petition on March 15, 2013.

On March 18, 2013, the Court adopted a proposed Scheduling Order and Discovery Plan submitted by the parties, with one exception: the trial ready date was extended from June 30, 2014 to July 30, 2014. Among other things, the parties agreed to a May 30, 2013 deadline for amending pleadings, with all discovery to be completed not later than February 28, 2014. On February 10, 2014 - two weeks before the deadline for completion of discovery - the parties filed a joint motion for extension of deadlines. At that time, the parties had not yet taken any depositions because they believed "it may be necessary to exchange additional discovery requests and responses." The motion for extension of pretrial deadlines was denied.

On February 27 - one day before the deadline for completion of discovery - Robinson's attorney took the deposition of Jon Mixdorf, executive vice-president of Cardinal. In his brief, Robinson asserts that "[b]ased on facts learned at Mr. Mixdorf's deposition, the Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to amend the petition on March 11, 2014 to assert a claim under the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 ("FMLA")."[1] Cardinal asserts that Robinson's claim of newly learned facts "is disingenuous and misleading."[2]

II. RELEVANT FACTS

On March 15, 2010, Robinson was injured in an accident while riding a bicycle and fractured his clavicle and upper portion of this hip. At that time, Robinson was employed by Cardinal. Following the accident, Cardinal granted Robinson leave to rehabilitate his hip, pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act. Robinson claims that after receiving treatment for his injuries, his physician released him to return to work with no restrictions on May 4, 2010. Cardinal terminated Robinson's employment, effective June 14, 2010.

On June 23, 2010, with the assistance of an attorney, Robinson filed a claim with the Waterloo Human Rights Commission.[3] Attached to the complaint is a narrative entitled "STATEMENT OF CRAIG A. ROBINSON." After describing his accident and subsequent termination, Robinson asserts that "I have been clearly discriminated against for a perceived disability." In his concluding paragraph, Robinson states:

In addition, I think that this is a violation of the Family Medical Leave Act. It is my understanding that I can have 12 weeks without penalty for a serious health condition. The fracture was clearly serious originally, but ultimately it healed perfectly but the employer chose to disregard the medical opinions of the orthopedic surgeon and used this as an ongoing excuse to continue the FMLA period until they terminated me.

Statement of Craig A. Robinson at 2 (docket number 14-2 at 6).

The Iowa Civil Rights Commission issued an Administrative Release (right-to-sue letter) on September 26, 2012. Robinson timely filed his petition at law in the state district court. In his petition and amended petition, Robinson claimed violations of the Iowa Civil Rights Act (Iowa Code chapter 216) and the Americans With Disabilities Act. Now, Robinson asks that he be permitted to file a second amended petition at law, adding a count for an alleged violation of the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993. Specifically, in his proposed second amended petition at law, Robinson asserts:

31. That upon obtaining a release to return to work with no restrictions from his physician on May 4, 2010, Plaintiff was entitled to be restored to the position of employment he held when his FMLA leave commenced or an equivalent position with equivalent ...

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