United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
KRISTOPHER D. NELSON, Plaintiff,
COVESTRO LLC, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Rosenthal Chief United States District Judge.
Nelson sued Covestro LLC, asserting an
employment-discrimination claim under the Americans with
Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12213.
Covestro moves to dismiss Nelson's amended complaint,
arguing that Nelson has not alleged facts showing that he is
a “qualified individual” under the Act, and that
the welfare-benefit provision Nelson challenges applies to
all Covestro employees, regardless of disability. Nelson has
responded, and Covestro has replied. (Docket Entry Nos. 21,
careful review of the pleadings, the motion, response, and
the applicable law, the court grants Covestro's motion to
dismiss, without prejudice and with leave to amend. (Docket
Entry No. 21). Nelson must file an amended complaint no later
than May 31, 2018.
reasons for this ruling are detailed below.
the well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint as true
for the purposes of this motion, Kristopher Nelson worked for
Covestro from 1998 to 2009. (Docket Entry No. 20 at ¶
14). In 2010, Nelson was injured and, in 2011, began
receiving long-term disability benefits from Covestro under
Covestro's long-term disability plan. (Id.).
Nelson received the same employee benefits he received while
actively employed, including health, dental, vision, and life
insurance. (Id. at ¶ 15).
October 2017, Covestro informed Nelson that employees who had
been on its long-term disability plan for at least 24 months
would lose their health-insurance benefits effective January
1, 2018. (Id. at ¶ 18). Nelson alleges that
Covestro's human resources department assured him that
his health insurance coverage would continue. (Id.
at ¶¶ 19-20). Nelson learned that he did not have
health insurance in January 2018. (Id. at ¶
22). He contacted Covestro's human resources department
and was informed that “his employment had now been
terminated and he was no longer entitled to benefits.”
(Id. at ¶ 25). This lawsuit followed.
alleges that Covestro's termination of his benefits
violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by
“subject[ing him] to different terms and conditions of
employment when it took away his benefits because of his
being disabled” and by “engag[ing] in unlawful
disparate treatment when it decided to eliminate benefits for
only those employees who were disabled and receiving
[long-term disability] benefits.” (Id. at
argument for dismissal, and the response, is analyzed below,
under the legal standard for a motion to dismiss.
Legal Standard for a Motion to Dismiss
12(b)(6) requires dismissal if a plaintiff fails “to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Rule 12(b)(6) must be read in
conjunction with Rule 8's requirement of a “short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A complaint
must contain “only enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Rule 8
“does not require ‘detailed factual
allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “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. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “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. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a “complaint must
allege ‘more than labels and conclusions, '”
and “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause
of action will not do.” Norris v. Hearst Tr.,
500 F.3d 454, 464 (5th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555). “Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders
‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further
factual enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(alteration in original) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
“[A] complaint ‘does not need detailed factual
allegations,' but must provide the plaintiff's
grounds for entitlement to relief-including factual
allegations that when assumed to be true ‘raise a right
to relief above the speculative level.'”
Cuvillier v. Taylor, 503 F.3d 397, 401 (5th Cir.
2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “Conversely,
when the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not
raise a claim of entitlement to relief, this basic deficiency
should be exposed at the point of minimum expenditure of time
and money by the parties and the court.” Id.
(quotation marks and alteration omitted).
considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), “a
district court must limit itself to the contents of the
pleadings, including attachments.” Collins v.
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, 224 F.3d 496, 498 (5th Cir.
2000). Documents “attache[d] to a motion to dismiss are
considered part of the pleadings, if they are referred to in
the plaintiff's complaint and are central to [the]
claim.” Id. at 498-99 (quoting Venture
Assocs. Corp. v. Zenith Data Sys. Corp., 987 F.2d 429,
431 (7th Cir. 1993)). The court may also “take judicial
notice of matters of public record.” Norris, 500 F.3d
at 461 n.9.
plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim, the court
should generally give the plaintiff a chance to amend under
Rule 15(a) before dismissing the action with prejudice,
unless it is clear that to do so would be futile. See
Carroll v. Fort James Corp.,470 F.3d 1171, 1175 (5th
Cir. 2006) (“[Rule 15(a)] evinces a bias in favor of
granting leave to amend.” (quotation omitted));
Great Plains Tr. Co. v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter &
Co., 313 F.3d 305, 329 (5th Cir. 2002)
(“[D]istrict courts often afford plaintiffs at least
one opportunity to cure pleading deficiencies before
dismissing a case, unless it is clear that the defects are
incurable or the plaintiffs advise the court that they are
unwilling or unable to amend in a manner that will avoid
dismissal.”). A court may deny a motion to amend as
futile if an amended complaint would fail to state a claim