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Sharp v. Stoughton Trailers, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

June 2, 2016

DAVID J. SHARP, Plaintiff,
v.
STOUGHTON TRAILERS, LLC, Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON, District Judge

         Plaintiff David J. Sharp brings this employment discrimination suit against his former employer, defendant Stoughton Trailers, LLC, alleging disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12213 (ADA), and the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act, Wis.Stat. §§ 111.31-111.395 (WFEA).

         Now defendant has moved to dismiss counts II and III of plaintiff’s complaint, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Dkt. 7. The court will grant defendant’s motion to dismiss count II but will deny the motion to dismiss count III.

         ALLEGATIONS OF FACT

         In July 2012, Dr. Jeffery P. Staab diagnosed plaintiff with chronic subjective dizziness (CSD). Plaintiff took prescribed medication to treat his symptoms from September 2012 to September 2013; at that time, doctors started tapering the medication regimen. Plaintiff’s symptoms were largely under control at that time.

         On October 28, 2013, defendant hired plaintiff as a value stream manager. But in January 2014, plaintiff’s symptoms resurfaced; he had trouble walking and standing, making it dangerous for him to drive or to be around moving equipment. Plaintiff told his supervisor, Dale Einerson, about his CSD at that time, and Einerson accommodated plaintiff by allowing him to come into work later on some mornings or to work from home as needed.

         On March 4, 2014, plaintiff told his production managers and Kate Shieldt, defendant’s vice president of human resources, about his CSD. On March 13, 2014, Robert Wahlin, defendant’s president, informed plaintiff that Einerson no longer worked for the company and that Mike Doverspike would be plaintiff’s new supervisor. Although Doverspike knew about plaintiff’s CSD, he refused to continue Einerson’s accommodations. In response, plaintiff produced a letter from his physician requesting a flexible schedule to accommodate his CSD. Defendant requested additional information from plaintiff’s physician. Plaintiff informed human resources and Doverspike that he would request an updated letter when his physician returned from vacation.

         Plaintiff obtained a supplemental letter from his physician on April 1, 2014, and he brought it with him to work that day. On his way to work, Doverspike called plaintiff and told him to report to his office when he arrived. Plaintiff dropped the letter at Ms. Shieldt’s desk on his way to Doverspike’s office. There, plaintiff met with Doverspike and Shieldt, who promptly terminated plaintiff for alleged performance issues. Plaintiff did not find another job until September 2015.

         Plaintiff filed a complaint with the State of Wisconsin Equal Rights Division and with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. On June 19, 2015, the EEOC notified plaintiff of his right to sue. Plaintiff alleges disability discrimination in violation of the ADA and the WFEA, and intentional discrimination that entitles plaintiff to punitive damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981a.

         The court has subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff’s ADA claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, because it arises under federal law. To the extent that plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted under the WFEA, the court would have supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claim, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a), because that claim is so related to plaintiff’s ADA claim that it forms part of the same case or controversy.

         ANALYSIS

         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the complaint’s legal sufficiency. To state a claim upon which relief can be granted, a 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). Rule 8 "does not require ‘detailed factual allegations, ’ but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). A complaint must contain "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do[.] . . . Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level[.]" Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).

         Defendant moves to dismiss counts II and III of plaintiff’s complaint. Defendant contends that the WFEA does not provide a private right of action and that plaintiff cannot maintain an independent claim for punitive damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981a.

         A. Private right of ...


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