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Munson v. East Central Intergovernmental Association

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

June 8, 2015

MARK MUNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
EAST CENTRAL INTERGOVERNMENTAL ASSOCIATION, Defendant.

ORDER

LINDA R. READE, Chief District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

The matter before the court is Defendant East Central Intergovernmental Association's ("ECIA") "Motion to Dismiss" ("Motion") (docket no. 17).

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On July 8, 2014, Plaintiff Mark Munson filed a Complaint (docket no. 2) against E.C.I.A. Business Growth, Inc. On September 18, 2014, Munson filed an Amended Complaint against ECIA (docket no. 8). Count I alleges that ECIA failed to accommodate Munson's disabilities in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Count II alleges that ECIA harassed Munson because of his disabilities in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Count III alleges that ECIA terminated Munson's employment because of his disabilities in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Count IV alleges that Munson is entitled to punitive damages from ECIA because ECIA acted willfully in violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Count V alleges that ECIA failed to accommodate Munson's disabilities in violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act. Count VI alleges that ECIA harassed Munson because of his disabilities in violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act. Count VII alleges that ECIA terminated Munson's employment because of his disabilities in violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act.

On October 10, 2014, ECIA filed an Answer to the Amended Complaint (docket no. 11). On April 8, 2015, ECIA filed the Motion.[1] On April 27, 2015, Munson filed a Resistance (docket no. 18). On May 4, 2015, ECIA filed a Reply (docket no. 19). The Motion is fully submitted and ready for decision.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides that "[a]fter the pleadings are closed but early enough not to delay trial a party may move for judgment on the pleadings." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). In ruling on a Rule 12(c) motion, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals "appl[ies] the same standard as when [the Eighth Circuit] reviews the grant of a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).'" McIvor v. Credit Control Servs., Inc., 773 F.3d 909, 912-13 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Packard v. Darveau, 759 F.3d 897, 900 (8th Cir. 2014)). The distinction between a motion under Rule 12(c) and 12(b)(6) "is purely formal, because [courts] review [a] 12(c) motion under the standards that govern 12(b)(6) motions." Westcott v. City of Omaha, 901 F.2d 1486, 1488 (8th Cir. 1990). Accordingly, the court applies the standards that govern Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) in deciding the merits of the Motion.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for dismissal on the basis of "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter... to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); accord B & B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Indus., Inc., 569 F.3d 383, 387 (8th Cir. 2009). A claim satisfies the plausibility standard "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

Although a plaintiff need not provide "detailed" facts in support of his or her allegations, the "short and plain statement" requirement of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) "demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) ("Specific facts are not necessary [under Rule 8(a)(2)]."). "A pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "Where the allegations show on the face of the complaint [that] there is some insuperable bar to relief, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate." Benton v. Merrill Lynch & Co., 524 F.3d 866, 870 (8th Cir. 2008) (citing Parnes v. Gateway 2000, Inc., 122 F.3d 539, 546 (8th Cir. 1997)). One such insuperable bar to relief is an applicable statute of limitations. See Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (2007) ("If the allegations... show that relief is barred by the applicable statute of limitations, the complaint is subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim.").

IV. RELEVANT FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Accepting the facts in the Complaint as true, Munson worked for ECIA as transit director from about November 2005 through May 2012. Munson began suffering from depression, anxiety and alcohol dependence. Munson informed ECIA that he was receiving medical treatment for anxiety, depression and alcohol dependence. Munson's alcohol dependence provider instructed Munson to work a reduced schedule, and Munson requested that ECIA accommodate the request for a reduced schedule. ECIA initially approved Munson's request. Upon Munson's return to work, however, ECIA terminated Munson's employment.

On about March 7, 2013, Munson filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, naming "East Central Intergovernmental Assoc." as the organization that discriminated against him. See Iowa Civil Rights Commission Complaint (docket no. 17-2) at 2. On about March 31, 2014, Munson requested a right-to-sue letter from the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, listing "East Central Intergovernmental Association" as one of the respondents. See Request for Administrative Release (docket no. 17-3). Sometime thereafter, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission issued an Administrative Release (docket no. 17-4), again listing "East Central Intergovernmental Association" as a respondent. On April 9, 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission informed the Iowa Civil Rights Commission that it would not investigate Munson's claim, listing "East Central Intergoverntal [sic] Association" as the respondent. See EEOC Acknowledgment (docket no. 17-5). On July 8, 2014, Munson filed his original complaint in the instant case, listing "E.C.I.A. Business Growth, ...


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