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Riconda v. US Foods, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 6, 2019

JAMES RICONDA, Plaintiff,
v.
US FOODS, INC., and JOHN DOES 1-5 and 6-10, Defendants.

          OPINION

          Hon. Kevin McNulty, United States District Judge.

         This matter comes before the court on the motion of the defendant, U.S. Foods, Inc., to dismiss Counts 1, 2, and 3 of the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).[1] Because the Complaint fails to allege that the plaintiff, Mr. Riconda, had a condition that was or was perceived as a disability, the motion to dismiss is granted.

         I. STANDARD

         Rule 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The defendant, as the moving party, bears the burden of showing that no claim has been stated. Animal Science Products, Inc. v. China Minmetals Corp., 654 F.3d 462, 469 n.9 (3d Cir. 2011). For the purposes of a motion to dismiss, the facts alleged in the complaint are accepted as true and all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the plaintiff. New Jersey Carpenters & the Trustees Thereof v. Tishman Const. Corp. of New Jersey, 760 F.3d 297, 302 (3d Cir. 2014).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) does not require that a complaint contain detailed factual allegations. Nevertheless, "a plaintiffs obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); see Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008) (Rule 8 "requires a 'showing' rather than a blanket assertion of an entitlement to relief." (citation omitted)). Thus, the complaint's factual allegations must be sufficient to raise a plaintiffs right to relief above a speculative level, so that a claim is "plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; see also West Run Student Hous. Assocs., LLC v. Huntington Nat Bank, 712 F.3d 165, 169 (3d Cir. 2013).

         That facial-plausibility standard is met "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). While "[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement'... it asks for more than a sheer possibility." Id.

         II. ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT

         The plaintiff, James Riconda, was formerly employed by the defendant, U.S. Foods, Inc. (Cplt. ¶¶ 1-2). He worked as a selector from June 15, 2015, until U.S. Foods terminated his employment on July 9, 2017. (Cplt. ¶ 4).

         The initial events occurred during a work shift running from the night of July 5 into the morning of July 6, 2017. On July 5, 2017, plaintiff became sick at work and vomited in the bathroom. (Cplt. ¶ 6). At around 12 midnight, he advised his supervisor, Estino, that he had become sick, and Estino told him to take a break. (Cplt. ¶¶ 7-8). After the break, Mr. Riconda's condition worsened; he vomited and had diarrhea. (Cplt. ¶ 9). At around 1:30 a.m. (it was now the morning of July 6), he told the night manager, Frank Conrad, that he was going to the emergency room, despite having no sick days left to use. Conrad said it was okay to leave. (Cplt. ¶¶ 10-12).

         At the hospital, Mr. Riconda was diagnosed with "a virus" and was told not to return to work until July 9, 2017. Therefore, on July 6, 2017, Mr. Riconda called in sick and said he would return with a doctor's note on July 9, 2017. (Cplt. ¶ 14). On July 9, 2017, he returned to work and gave the doctor's note to Mr. Conrad, who stated "okay." (Cplt. ¶ 15).

         The next day, July 10, 2017, Conrad called Riconda into his office and terminated his employment based on his absence from July 7-9, 2017. The termination became official on July 11, 2017.

         The complaint alleges that, because of catching this virus, Mr. Riconda was disabled and perceived as disabled within the meaning of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). (Cplt. ¶¶ 19-20).

         The counts of the complaint relevant to this motion are as follows:

Count 1 Disability discrimination (New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ...

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