United States District Court, D. Idaho
BRENT E. HILLIARD, an individual, Plaintiff,
TWIN FALLS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, a Public Entity, and TWIN FALLS COUNTY, a Public Corporation, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: MOTION TO DISMISS
WILLIAM B. SHUBB, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is defendants' Motion to Dismiss filed February
19, 2019. (Docket No. 5.) The court held a hearing on the
motion on June 11, 2019.
Factual and Procedural Background
case concerns plaintiff's claims that the Twin Falls
County Sheriff's Office discriminated against him based
on his disabilities. Plaintiff was a captain with the Twin
Falls County Sheriff's Office with a history of positive
performance evaluations and no significant disciplinary
actions prior to 2017. (Compl. ¶¶ 8-9 (Docket No.
1).) In about mid-April 2017, plaintiff informed his
supervisor, Chief Deputy Don Newman that he was suffering
from depression; some time thereafter, plaintiff began
receiving treatment from a licensed therapist. (Id.
¶ 10.) This depression was aggravated by a back injury
in spring 2017, which resulted in surgery in May 2017 that
prevented plaintiff from working for about one month.
(Id. ¶ 11.) After the surgery, plaintiff was
released by his doctors to work part-time and was given pain
medication as treatment for the recovery. Plaintiff returned
to work in about June 2017 and was placed on light
administrative duty. (Id. ¶¶ 10-13.)
8, 2017, Newman was advised that plaintiff was taking pain
medication per doctor's orders. Plaintiff was then called
into a meeting with Twin Falls County Sheriff Tom Carter and
Newman on July 10, 2017 to discuss his use of pain
medication. During the meeting, Newman explained that two
officers had expressed concerns that plaintiff was under the
influence of pain medication while on duty, though plaintiff
explained that he was only using his medication as prescribed
by his doctors. In response, Sheriff Carter requested that
plaintiff go home and remain off duty until he was off all
pain medication. (Id. ¶¶ 14-16.)
a week, around July 17, 2017, plaintiff informed Newman that
he was off all pain medication and ready to return to work.
Plaintiff was then called into another meeting with Sheriff
Carter, Newman, and legal counsel from the county
attorney's office, at which he was told he was being
placed on “unofficial administrative leave.”
Plaintiff was also required to have a “Fitness for
Duty” evaluation (“fit for duty”).
(Id. ¶¶ 17-18.)
had a fit for duty evaluation on July 27, 2017 with Dr.
During the evaluation, plaintiff informed Dr. Tye that he was
no longer taking any pain medication. At the end of the
evaluation, plaintiff met with Dr. Tye and Newman, and Dr.
Tye stated that he believed plaintiff was fit for duty and
that returning to work would be best for his health.
(Id. at 20-21.) Newman later called Dr. Tye and
claimed that plaintiff was not entirely open during the
evaluation and had a history of substance abuse.
(Id. ¶¶ 20-24.)
Tye's August 3, 2017 written report, he found plaintiff
unfit for duty and expressly relied on his conversation with
Newman, including the allegations of substance abuse.
(Id. ¶ 25.) Dr. Tye's report also made
recommendations for treatment, which included continuing to
meet with plaintiff's therapist and a psychiatric nurse
practitioner and taking a “GAIN” substance abuse
evaluation. Plaintiff followed these recommendations.
(Id. ¶¶ 26-29.)
then met with Sheriff Carter, Newman, the county attorney,
and Human Resources Director Elain Molignoni on August 17,
2017. At the meeting, defendant was given a letter informing
him that he was no longer on administrative leave and would
need to use vacation time and sick leave to be off work.
Defendant was also told by Molignoni to meet with his nurse
practitioner to fill out Family Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”) paperwork. (Id. ¶ 30.)
continued to meet with his therapist and nurse practitioner,
who both wrote letters stating they believed he was able to
return to work. Upon receiving the letter from the nurse
practitioner, Molignoni told plaintiff that since he could
return to work, there was no need to fill out FMLA paperwork.
(Id. ¶¶ 31-32.)
August 27, 2018, Sheriff Carter called plaintiff and told him
that if he passed his fit for duty evaluation the next day,
he would keep his job, but if he failed, he could no longer
be employed by the Sheriff's Office. (Id. ¶
33.) After the fit for duty evaluation, Dr. Tye told
plaintiff that he was leaning towards finding him fit for
duty. However, Dr. Tye's final report dated September 6,
2017 made no recommendation. (Id. ¶¶
to plaintiff, Dr. Tye's report contained numerous
irregularities and erroneous factual allegations showing that
the Sheriff's Office interfered in Dr. Tye's
evaluation. Among other things, the report referenced
multiple phone conversations with Newman, who claimed
plaintiff had a broader history of substance abuse than was
indicated by the GAIN assessment, and Dr. Tye relied on
Newman's allegations to determine that plaintiff's
purported substance abuse problem could not be fully resolved
or treated. These allegations were purportedly meritless and
motivated by Newman's discriminatory animus, according to
plaintiff. (Id. ¶¶ 35-40.)
same day the report was released, Newman texted plaintiff
letting him know he was going to send Dr. Tye's report to
the legal department. Plaintiff interpreted this text to mean
that he would be fired. Faced with this likelihood, the next
day, plaintiff drank alcohol, drove to a remote location, and
considered committing suicide. Plaintiff eventually
reconsidered his actions and began to drive home, but he was
stopped and arrested for driving under the influence.
(Id. ¶¶ 41-42.)
days later, plaintiff received a Notice of Suspension with
Pay from Newman explaining that he was being investigated and
would be subject to discipline because of his arrest.
Plaintiff had a pre-disciplinary hearing with Newman on
September 26, 2017 and was officially terminated on September
28, 2017. Plaintiff's appeal before Sheriff Carter was
denied on about October 6, 2017. (Id. ¶¶
result of plaintiff's termination and certain actions
taken against him prior to his termination, plaintiff filed
his Complaint alleging that defendants violated the Americans
with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §
12112, et seq., the Idaho Human Rights Act
(“IHRA”), Idaho Code § 67-5909 et seq., the
Family Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2615, et seq.; and
the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the
U.S. Constitution. Plaintiff also alleges that such conduct
constituted negligent and intentional infliction of emotional
distress (“NIED” and “IIED”) under
Idaho common law.
Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the inquiry before the court is
whether, accepting the allegations in the complaint as true
and drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's
favor, the plaintiff has stated a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “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. “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Id. A complaint that offers mere “labels and
conclusions” will not survive a motion to dismiss.
Id. (internal quotation marks and citations
Defendants' Affidavits and Evidence
turning to the merits of the Motion to Dismiss, the court
will address defendants' attachment of affidavits and
exhibits to their motion. Ordinarily courts may not consider
evidence outside the pleadings on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.
Khoja v. Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc.,899 F.3d 988,
998 (9th Cir. 2018). However, courts may consider materials
attached to the complaint or documents the complaint
necessarily relies on if those documents' authenticity is
not contested, under the “incorporation by
reference” doctrine. Lee v. City of Los
Angeles,250 F.3d 668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001).
Specifically, a complaint necessarily relies on extrinsic
evidence if “(1) the complaint refers to the document;
(2) the document is central to the plaintiff's claim; and
(3) no party questions the authenticity of the copy attached
to the 12(b)(6) motion.” Marder v. Lopez, 450
F.3d 445, 448 (9th Cir. 2006). Put ...