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Arora v. Henry Ford Health System

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

September 18, 2017

SURRINDER ARORA, Plaintiff,
v.
HENRY FORD HEALTH SYSTEM, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT [60] AND GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [58]

          STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III United States District Judge

         On July 16, 2015, pro se plaintiff Surrinder Arora filed a four-count complaint in Oakland County Circuit Court against defendants Henry Ford Health System, Henry Ford System Plan for STD Benefits, Henry Ford System Plan for LTD Benefits, Gerard van Grinsven, Debbie Chapman, and Bea Page (collectively "HFHS"), Life Insurance Company of North America ("LINA"), and five John Does ("Doe Defendants").[1] ECF 1-1. HFHS removed the action to the Court on September 2, 2015. ECF 1.

         On November 12, 2015, the Court dismissed LINA from the case. ECF 24. Arora filed a Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint on November 23, 2015. ECF 31. The Court granted the motion on September 27, 2016, ECF 56, and HFHS filed a Motion to Dismiss on November 1, 2016, ECF 58. On November 22, 2016, Arora responded to the Motion to Dismiss, ECF 59, and filed a Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint, ECF 60. The Court will deny Arora's Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint and will grant HFHS's Motion to Dismiss.

         BACKGROUND

         On or about July 1980, HFHS allegedly offered Arora a position as a medical technologist. ECF 60, PgID 1895. The terms of employment were allegedly contained in the terms and conditions of HFHS's internal policies and procedures. ECF 60, PgID 1896-97. Arora performed her duties effectively and received positive reviews. ECF 60, PgID 1897; see also ECF 57, 57-1.

         On April 3, 2009, Arora underwent scheduled surgery at HFHS. ECF 60, PgID 1897. The surgery allegedly left Arora disabled. Id. As result of the disability, April 2, 2009 was her final day of work. Id. Arora sought, and received, a "Disability Program Process Summary" from HFHS's Human Resources ("HR") Department. Id. at 1898, 1931. On May 5, 2009, Arora applied for a Medical Leave of Absence ("MLOA") with the start date of the MLOA as the date of her surgery, April 3, 2009. ECF 60, PgID 1929. She allegedly never received any information about the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") and was unaware of her eligibility status under the FMLA. Id. at 1902.

         Later, on June 17, 2009, Arora's physician allegedly authorized her to return to work on a part-time basis. Id. at 1899. Arora then contacted the secretary of the lab where she had worked and Denise Chapman, her manager. Id. The next day, June 18, 2009, Arora's supervisor, Linda Cardine, allegedly informed Arora that she had been scheduled for part-time work on June 26 and July 3, 4, and 5, 2009. Id. For one month, Arora could allegedly maintain her full-time status despite only working two days a week because she had accumulated 96 "CTO" hours. Id. at 1900. On June 24, 2009, however, Chapman allegedly left a voicemail for Arora; she was told not to come in to work on June 26, id. at 1899-1900, and her employment ended for good that day. Id. at 1900.[2]

         As a result of the termination, Arora's "health, emotional and financial state" were "completely disrupted." Id. Arora allegedly never received "12 weeks of unpaid leave" to which she was entitled. Id. at 1901. Arora's age-she was 62 at the time-and her "deep emotional, physical, mental and financial shock and extreme stress" rendered her unable to find even part-time work. Id. at 1900-01. Arora allegedly attempted to appeal her termination decision multiple times, but was "forced into a non-voluntary retirement" in April 2010. Id. at 1902. The lawsuit followed.

         The First Amended Complaint contained eight claims: three beach of contract counts, and one claim each of fraud, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, conspiracy, and respondeat superior. ECF 57. Arora's Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint alleges "significant factual developments that have occurred" since the original filing and the First Amended Complaint.[3] ECF 60, PgID 1884. The Second Amended Complaint contains eight slightly modified claims: two counts each of fraud and breach of contract, and one count each of negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, conspiracy, and damages under respondeat superior. ECF 60.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2), a court should "freely give leave" for a party to file an amended complaint "when justice so requires." District courts can, however, deny a motion for leave to amend on the basis of "undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive ... [or] futility of amendment." Prater v. Ohio Educ. Ass'n, 505 F.3d 437, 445 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). "Amending would be futile if a proposed amendment would not survive a motion to dismiss." SFS Check, LLC v. First Bank of Delaware, 774 F.3d 351, 355 (6th Cir. 2014). Accordingly, the proposed amended pleading must "raise a right to relief above the speculative level" and "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Hensley Mfg. v. ProPride, Inc., 579 F.3d 603, 609 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007)). The plaintiff is obliged to provide "more than labels and conclusions[.]" Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Courts "are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation[.]" Id. (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)).

         DISCUSSION

         I. The Proposed Second Amended Complaint is Futile on its Face

          Arora asserts that the proposed Second Amended Complaint does not allege "any claims against LINA." ECF 60, PgID 1894. But she has nevertheless included LINA as a "necessary party" because "LINA has the documents and information as to wrongful acts and omissions" of HFHS and its employees. Id. In Count Seven, Arora alleges in a conclusory manner that HFHS conspired with LINA to deprive Arora of "Accommodation Services." Id. By including LINA, a previously dismissed party, in her proposed Second Amended Complaint, the proposed complaint is futile on its face.

         Nevertheless, recognizing that Arora is a pro se plaintiff, "necessary party" is a legal term of art, and courts should freely grant leave to amend, the Court will address the other claims advanced by Arora in the proposed Second Amended Complaint.

         II. The Proposed Second Amended Complaint is Futile on the Merits.

         A. Arora's first fraud count fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         Arora alleges that HFHS employees "intentionally, illegally, maliciously and fraudulently destroyed" personnel documents dated after April 2009. ECF 60, PgID 1907. She further alleges that supervisory employees knew or should have known of the destruction. Id. While Arora captioned the claim as "fraudulent destruction, " she references two sections of ERISA for authoritative support.[4] Id. at 1906-07.

         When alleging fraud, a party "must state with particularity the circumstances constituting fraud[.]" Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(b). Moreover, "[a]n allegation of time or place is material when testing the sufficiency of a pleading." Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(f). Arora does not allege particularized circumstances constituting alleged fraud. She does not specify the time or place of any alleged wrongdoing. The allegations amount to no more than "naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement" and are therefore insufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation omitted). Count One fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted. Amendment is futile.

         B. Arora's second fraud count fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         Arora alleges that defendants "fraudulently concealed their interference with Plaintiff's rights under FMLA." ECF 60, PgID 1910. Arora further alleges that she "was an eligible employee under the FMLA; Defendant-employer HFHS was subject to the requirements of the FMLA; Plaintiff was entitled to leave under the FMLA; she kept HFHS informed in [a] timely manner as to her continued disability from April 3, 2009 and she was denied the benefits to which she was entitled under the ...


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