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Scott v. Corizon Health, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

May 9, 2014

YVONNE SCOTT, an individual; YVONNE HARJO, an individual; and CARRIE CHANEY, an individual, Plaintiffs,
v.
CORIZON HEALTH, INC., a foreign corporation, Defendant.

ORDER

LARRY R. HICKS, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant Corizon Health, Inc.'s ("Corizon") Motion to Dismiss the claims of Plaintiffs Yvonne Harjo ("Harjo") and Carrie Chaney ("Chaney").[1] Doc. #6.[2] Harjo and Chaney filed a Response (Doc. #11), to which Corizon replied (Doc. #16).

I. Factual Background

This action involves a dispute arising from Plaintiffs Scott, Harjo, and Chaney's former employment with Corizon. Scott, Harjo, and Chaney were employed by Corizon as health care providers at the Washoe County Detention facility in Reno, NV. Scott worked as a physician's assistant for approximately three (3) years, until May of 2012, when she quit. Scott asserts claims for tortious discharge, violation of Nevada Revised Statute 449.207, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Harjo worked as a registered nurse until she was terminated without cause in October of 2011. Harjo's only claim in this action is for tortious discharge. Corizon seeks dismissal of Harjo as her only claim for tortious discharge is time-barred. Chaney worked as a nurse practitioner until she was terminated without cause on September 7, 2013. Chaney asserts claims for tortious discharge, violation of Nevada Revised Statute 449.207, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Corizon also seeks dismissal of Chaney's three claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

II. Legal Standard

To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a complaint must satisfy the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) notice pleading standard. See Mendiondo v. Centinela Hosp. Med. Ctr., 521 F.3d 1097, 1103 (9th Cir. 2008). That is, a complaint 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). The Rule 8(a)(2) pleading standard does not require detailed factual allegations; however, a pleading that offers "labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action'" will not suffice. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

Furthermore, Rule 8(a)(2) requires a complaint to "contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the Court to draw the reasonable inference, based on the Court's judicial experience and common sense, that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. See id. at 678-79. "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. Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief." Id. at 678 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

In reviewing a motion to dismiss, the Court accepts the facts alleged in the complaint as true. Id. However, "bare assertions... amount[ing] to nothing more than a formulaic recitation of the elements of a... claim... are not entitled to an assumption of truth." Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681) (brackets in original) (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court discounts these allegations because "they do nothing more than state a legal conclusion-even if that conclusion is cast in the form of a factual allegation." Id. (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681). "In sum, for a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the non-conclusory factual content, ' and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief." Id.

III. Discussion

A. Plaintiff Harjo's Claim

Corizon asserts that Harjo's sole claim for tortious discharge is time-barred. The Court agrees. Under Nevada law, tort claims-including claims for tortious discharge-must be brought within two (2) years of the date on which the action accrues. See Fox v. Sysco Corp., No. 2:11-cv-00424-RLH-PAL, 2011 WL 5838179, at *4 (D. Nev. Nov. 21, 2011) ("under Nevada law tort claims must be brought within two years of the date the cause of action accrues"); see also Nev. Rev. Stat. 11.190(4)(e) ("an action to recover damages for injuries to a person or for the death of a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another" may only be commenced within 2 years); State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Fitts, 99 P.3d 1160, 1161 (Nev. 2004) ("two-year statute of limitations govern[s] tort actions brought in Nevada"); Smallwood v. Titanium Metals Corp., 115 Fed.Appx. 416, at *1 (9th Cir. 2004) ("[i]n Nevada, a claim for wrongful discharge is subject to a two-year statute of limitations") (citing Palmer v. State, 106 Nev. 151, 787 P.2d 803, 804 (1990); Torre v. J.C. Penney Co., Inc., 916 F.Supp. 1029, 1030 (D. Nev. 1996)). Harjo admits that she was terminated in October of 2011. See Am. Compl., Doc. #1, Ex. A, ΒΆ3. She filed suit on November 14, 2013 (Compl., Doc. #1, Ex. A), more than a month after the statute of limitations had run. Accordingly, the Court finds that her claim for tortious discharge is time-barred.

B. Plaintiff Chaney's Claims

Tortious Discharge

Under Nevada law, an employer may fire an at-will employee for any reason or for no reason at all. Dillard Dep't Stores, Inc. v. Beckwith, 115 Nev. 372, 376 (1999) (en banc). Nevada, however, recognizes a public policy exception to at-will employment. Id. Where an employer terminates an employee in violation of public policy, the terminated employee may bring a cause of action for tortious discharge. Id. at 376-77. "In Nevada, tortious discharge claims can arise when an employee is terminated for whistleblowing;' that is, for reporting an employer's alleged illegal activity to the appropriate authorities." Reuber v. Reno Dodge Sales, Inc., No. 61602, 2013 WL 7158571, at *1 (Nov. 1, 2013 Nev.) (citing Wiltsie v. Baby Grand Corp., 105 Nev. 291, 293 (1989)). In order to qualify for this limited public policy exception to the at-will employment doctrine, the employee's actions must be for the public good, and not merely private or proprietary. Wiltsie, 105 Nev. at 291. As such, an employee must report the employer's allegedly illegal activity to the appropriate authorities outside of the company. See Bielser v. Prof. Sys. Corp., 177 Fed.Appx. 655, 656 (9th Cir. 2006) ("Nevada precedent is clear, therefore, that unless an employee reports the employer's allegedly illegal activity to authorities ...


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