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Cummings v. Valley Health System, LLC

United States District Court, D. Nevada

March 9, 2017

ANGELA CUMMINGS, Plaintiff(s),
v.
VALLEY HEALTH SYSTEM, LLC, et al., Defendant(s).

          ORDER

         Presently before the court is defendant Valley Health System, LLC's (“Valley”) motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 16). Plaintiff Angela Cummings filed a response (ECF No. 19), to which Valley replied (ECF No. 20).

         I. Facts

         The instant action involves allegations of retaliatory interference with prospective employment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 2000e-3 eq seq. and NRS 613.200(1) and NRS 613.210, arising from a rescission of a job offer by the Veterans Administration (“VA”) allegedly based on circumstances surrounding plaintiff's employment history. (ECF No. 13).

         Plaintiff, an African American female, was employed as a monitor tech/unit coordinator by Valley at its Desert Springs Hospital operation from March 2005 to February 2013. (ECF No. 13). In 2012, plaintiff filed charges of discrimination with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission (“NERC”) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) against Valley based on sex and race discrimination. (ECF No. 13). In January 2013, Valley suspended plaintiff, and plaintiff filed a subsequent charge of discrimination and retaliation, which she amended after her termination. (ECF No. 13).

         Plaintiff brought suit based on the 2012 and 2013 charges in case number 2:13-cv-00479-APG-GWF, which she lost. (ECF No. 13). The matter is currently pending before the Ninth Circuit on appeal in case number 16-15369. (ECF No. 13).

         In March 2015, plaintiff applied for a position as a medical instrument technician with the VA's Southern Nevada Healthcare System (“SNHS”). (ECF No. 13). Maria Roldan interviewed plaintiff, inquiring about her relevant work history and the reasons for her leaving her job at Desert Springs Hospital. (ECF No. 13). Plaintiff disclosed her termination from Desert Springs Hospital to Roldan. (ECF No. 13).

         On June 17, 2015, plaintiff received a tentative offer of employment from the SNHS, pending fingerprinting, a background and reference check, drug screening, various forms, and physical and boarding process. (ECF No. 13). Throughout this process, plaintiff maintained contact with two VA human resources (“HR”) representatives, Nadine Harris and Merlinda Winbush. (ECF No. 13).

         In September 2015, Harris advised plaintiff that the HR department had initiated the final step of the application process, which was employment verifications to former employers, including Valley. (ECF No. 13). Harris further informed plaintiff that the verification packet would be sent to Desiree Crawford, VA Associate Nurse Executive, for review and signature and then to the Professional Standards Board (“PSB”). (ECF No. 13). Plaintiff was scheduled to meet with the PSB on October 8, 2015. (ECF No. 13). However, the packet was not forwarded to the PSB because Crawford had not signed it due to being out of the office on business. (ECF No. 13).

         On November 10, 2015, Winbush called plaintiff and stated that the VA was rescinding its job offer. (ECF No. 13). On that same date, an email was sent to plaintiff informing her that the VA decided to rescind her tentative job offer due to plaintiff's employment history. (ECF No. 13). Plaintiff made various attempts to contact the VA to inquire about the rescinding of its job offer. (ECF No. 13). Plaintiff alleges that she received a letter from Crawford dated December 8, 2015, which stated that the reason for the withdrawal was because of plaintiff's “terminat[ion] from employment with Valley Health Systems for ‘. . . violation of company policy and work performance issues . . . .” (ECF No. 13 at 8).

         Plaintiff alleges that Valley provided negative and misleading information to the VA for the purpose of interfering with plaintiff's employment opportunity with the VA. (ECF No. 13). On May 27, 2016, plaintiff filed a charge of retaliation with the EEOC. (ECF No. 13). The EEOC issue a notice of suit rights on June 24, 2016. (ECF No. 13).

         Plaintiff filed the original complaint in state court on September 21, 2016. (ECF No. 1-3). Valley removed the action to federal court on October 25, 2016. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff later amended her complaint on November 18, 2016. (ECF No. 13). In the amended complaint, plaintiff alleges three causes of action: (1) retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981; (2) intentional interference with prospective economic advantage; and (3) retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 200e-3. (ECF No. 13).

         In the instant motion, Valley moves to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 16). In addition, Valley moves for sanctions pursuant to Rule 11 (ECF No. 22), and plaintiff moves for sanctions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1927 (ECF No. 34). The court will address each in turn.

         II. Legal Standard

         A court may dismiss a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A properly pled complaint must provide “[a] short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). While Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, it demands “more than labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted).

         “Factual allegations must be enough to rise above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Thus, to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation omitted).

         In Iqbal, the Supreme Court clarified the two-step approach district courts are to apply when considering motions to dismiss. First, the court must accept as true all well-pled factual allegations in the complaint; however, legal conclusions are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Id. at 678-79. Mere recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported only by conclusory statements, do not suffice. Id. at 678.

         Second, the court must consider whether the factual allegations in the complaint allege a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 679. A claim is facially plausible when the plaintiff's complaint alleges facts that allow the court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. Id. at 678.

         Where the complaint does not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has “alleged-but not shown-that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). When the allegations in a complaint have not crossed the line from ...


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