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Wisner v. City of Sioux City

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

March 20, 2015

DANNY WISNER, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF SIOUX CITY, BOB SCOTT, JOHN FITCH, BRIDEY HAYES, JADE DUNDAS, BRIAN FAHRENDHOLZ, BRAD BALDWIN, and PATRICK SIMONS Defendants.

ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS

DONALD E. O'BRIEN, Senior District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Currently before this Court is Defendant City of Sioux City's [hereinafter the Defendants] Motion(s) to Dismiss, Docket Nos. 12 and 13.[1], [2] After listening to the parties' arguments and considering the various filings, the Court took the issues under advisement and now enters the following.

II. BACKGROUND

At this stage of the case, few facts are before the Court. But the following outline of the case is clear based on the parties' filings.

The Plaintiff, Mr. Wisner, began working as a fire-fighter for the City of Sioux City in 1991. In 2004, Plaintiff was determined to be unable to continue his duties as a firefighter due to a heart condition and was awarded a disability retirement pursuant to I.C.A. Chapter 411.[3] In 2011, the Plaintiff applied for employment with the City as a "maintenance worker" in the Field Services Department. Mr. Wisner passed the civil service examinations and was placed on the hiring list. Plaintiff was offered a maintenance worker position conditioned on the results of a pre-employment physical which he passed without restriction. The City hired Ms. Wisner as a probationary employee on or about November 14, 2011. However, after he started working, the City had numerous issues with his work performance. Specifically, it was alleged that Mr. Wisner did not meet the performance expectations for the position, that he lacked motivation to learn the job responsibilities and assignments of the position, and that he required a great deal of direct supervision to keep him motivated. Approximately six months after starting work as a maintenance worker, the City terminated Mr. Wisner's employment.

The Plaintiff asserts a number of claims arising out of his termination. First, in Count I, Mr. Wisner alleges that the Defendants committed defamation. In Count II, Mr. Wisner alleges a breach of good faith. In Count III, Mr. Wisner alleges that he was discriminated against because he was perceived as "double dipping" for receiving a disability pension while employed as a maintenance worker. Mr. Wisner grounds his legal claim in Count III in the American's with Disabilities Act. Finally, in Count IV, Mr. Wisner alleges retaliation under I.C.A. ยง 216.

III. MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARD

The notice pleading standard of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires a plaintiff to give "a short and plain statement showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." In order to meet this standard and 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, 663 (2009) (internal quotations and citation omitted). This requirement of facial plausibility means that the factual content of the plaintiff's allegations must "allow[ ] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Cole v. Homier Distrib. Co. Inc., 599 F.3d 856, 861 (8th Cir. 2010). Furthermore, courts must assess the plausibility of a given claim with reference to the plaintiff's allegations as a whole, not in terms of the plausibility of each individual allegation. Zoltek Corp. v. Structural Polymer Group, 592 F.3d 893, 896 n. 4 (8th Cir. 2010) (internal citation omitted). This inquiry is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 664.

"While 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." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal alterations and citations omitted). Nevertheless, although the "plausibility standard requires a plaintiff to show at the pleading stage that success on the merits is more than a sheer possibility, " it is not a "probability requirement." Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009). As such, "a well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of the facts alleged is improbable, and that a recovery is very remote and unlikely, " Id.

In assessing "plausibility, " as required by the Supreme Court in Iqbal, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has explained that courts should consider only the materials that are necessarily embraced by the pleadings and exhibits attached to the complaint. See Mattes v. ABC Plastics, Inc., 323 F.3d 695, 697 n. 4 (8th Cir. 2003), stating that "in considering a motion to dismiss, the district court may sometimes consider materials outside the pleadings, such as materials that are necessarily embraced by the pleadings and exhibits attached to the complaint. Porous Media Corp. v. Pall Corp., 186 F.3d 1077, 1079 (8th Cir. 1999). The Court may also consider "materials that are part of the public record or do not contradict the complaint." Miller v. Redwood Toxicology Lab., Inc., 688 F.3d 928, 931 (8th Cir. 2012). "A more complete list of the matters outside of the pleadings that a court may consider, without converting a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss into a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment, pursuant to Rule 12(d), includes matters incorporated by reference or integral to the claim, items subject to judicial notice, matters of public record, orders, items appearing in the record of the case, and exhibits attached to the complaint whose authenticity is unquestioned." Van Stelton v. Van Stelton, 11-CV-4045-MWB, 2013 WL 3776813 (N.D. Iowa 2013) (internal citations omitted).

IV. ISSUES

Defendants' Motion to Dismiss raises two main issues. The Defendants' primary argument is that Mr. Wisner has failed to make a cognizable claim under the American's with Disabilities Act. Secondly, the Defendants argue that Mr. ...


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