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LeBlanc v. Disa Global Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

January 10, 2018

JAMES LEBLANC
v.
DISA GLOBAL SOLUTIONS, INC., OUR LADY OF THE LAKE ASCENSION, LLC, AND UNIVERSITY MRO, LLC

          RULING

          SHELLY D. DICK JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss For Failure to State a Claim[1] filed by Defendant, DISA Global Solutions, Inc. (“DISA”). Plaintiff, James LeBlanc, (“Plaintiff”) has filed an Opposition[2] to this motion. Subsequently, Plaintiff filed a First Amended, Supplemental, and Restated Complaint (“Amended Complaint”)[3] which prompted DISA to file a Supplemental Memorandum[4] in support of its motion, to which Plaintiff filed a Joint Supplemental Memorandum in Opposition.[5] For the reasons which follow, the Court finds that the motion should be denied.

         I. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         This matter involves claims for damages allegedly sustained by Plaintiff resulting from a failed drug test conducted on behalf of his employer, Atlas Copco Rental, LLC (“Atlas”), on February 26, 2016. Plaintiff originally filed this action in state court against DISA Global Solutions, Inc. (“DISA”), Our Lady of the Lake Ascension, LLC, d/b/a St. Elizabeth Physicians (“STEP”), [6] and University MRO, LLC (“University”). Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants were negligent in conducting his drug test.[7] Specifically, Plaintiff alleges he submitted to a random drug test at STEP on February 26, 2016, where STEP employees collected a hair sample for testing, [8] but failed to inquire about or document any medications Plaintiff was taking at the time of the test.[9] STEP sent Plaintiff's hair sample to Psychemedics Laboratory for analysis of the hair sample which resulted in a positive finding of cocaine metabolites.[10] Psychemedics submitted this result to University for evaluation, and Dr. Terri Hellings, M.D., a Medical Review Officer (“MRO”) employed by University, interviewed Plaintiff by telephone regarding the test results.[11]Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Hellings did not accept his explanation of legally prescribed medications and reported the findings to DISA and Atlas which resulted in Plaintiff being listed as “Inactive” and prevented him from working in his field for Atlas.[12]

         DISA contends Plaintiff has sued DISA for negligence based on the sole allegation that DISA listed Plaintiff as “Inactive” as a result of the drug test. DISA argues Plaintiff has not alleged that the drug test results were inaccurate or that DISA incorrectly listed him as “Inactive.” Thus, DISA moves for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to state a claim, arguing that Plaintiff has failed to plead the essential elements of duty, breach, and causation on the part of DISA.

         II. PARTIES' ARGUMENTS

         DISA contends that its only alleged role in this case is the accurate listing of Plaintiff as “Inactive” after receiving a positive test result for cocaine metabolites, a result that Plaintiff does not allege was incorrect. DISA further contends Plaintiff has failed to allege any duty owed by DISA, and claims that Plaintiff's attempt to assert liability “based solely on the conclusory allegation that DISA ‘improperly report[ed] test results as positive' is not sufficient to withstand” a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.[13] DISA also avers that Plaintiff has failed to allege any breach by DISA and has acknowledged that DISA complied with its own policy by listing Plaintiff as “Inactive” as a result of the positive drug test. DISA contends that Plaintiff alleges no facts alleging that DISA was, or should have been, responsible for any of the alleged failures in the drug testing, analysis, or reporting process. Finally, DISA contends Plaintiff has failed to plead any facts to show causation on the part of DISA.

         Plaintiff opposes DISA's motion and argues that he has set forth sufficient facts to state a claim for negligence against DISA. Particularly, Plaintiff alleges that DISA selected Plaintiff for random drug screening, [14] DISA employed University to investigate non-negative drug test results, [15] and that, although DISA was notified of a problem with Plaintiff's non-negative drug test results, [16] DISA continued to list Plaintiff as “Inactive.”[17]Plaintiff alleges that this “Inactive” listing caused Plaintiff to be prevented from working in his field of employment.[18]

         Plaintiff contends the allegations pled are sufficient to infer that DISA had a duty to properly verify the test results, properly report the test results, and identify and consider how the presence of legally prescribed medications might affect his test results. Plaintiff contends DISA breached its duty of care through the actions of its employee University and by reporting Plaintiff “Inactive” after being notified of a legitimate medical explanation for the non-negative test result. Further, Plaintiff has clearly alleged causation, asserting that DISA's actions caused him to be prevented from working in his employment field, resulting in the alleged damages.

         III. LAW & ANALYSIS

         A. Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(6)

         When deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, “[t]he ‘court accepts all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.'”[19] The Court may consider “the complaint, its proper attachments, documents incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of which a court may take judicial notice.”[20] “To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must plead ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”[21] In Twombly, the United States Supreme Court set forth the basic criteria necessary for a complaint to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. “While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's 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.”[22] A complaint is also insufficient if it merely “tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'”[23] However, “[a] claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads the factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”[24] In order to satisfy the plausibility standard, the plaintiff must show “more than a sheer possibility that the defendant has acted unlawfully.”[25] “Furthermore, while the court must accept well-pleaded facts as true, it will not ‘strain to find inferences favorable to the plaintiff.'”[26] On a motion to dismiss, courts “are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.”[27]

         B. Negligence Standard

         Louisiana Civil Code article 2315 provides in pertinent part that “[e]very act whatever of man that causes damage to another obliges him by whose fault it happened to repair it.” If the act involves the failure to exercise reasonable care, it is deemed negligence.[28] A defendant's conduct must conform to the standard of conduct of a reasonable man under like circumstances.[29]

         Under the duty risk analysis employed by Louisiana courts, to state a cause of action in negligence, the following elements must be satisfied: (1) the defendant had a duty to conform his or her conduct to a specific standard of care (the duty element); (2) the defendant failed to conform his or her conduct to the appropriate standard (the breach of duty element); (3) the defendant's substandard conduct was a cause-in-fact of the plaintiff's injuries (the cause-in-fact element); (4) the defendant's substandard conduct was a legal cause of the plaintiff's injuries (the scope of liability or scope of protection element); and, (5) actual damages (the damages element).[30] Under the duty-risk analysis, all inquiries must be affirmatively answered for a plaintiff to recover.[31] The determination of the existence of a duty and the scope of the duty are legal questions to be decided by the court; breach of duty and causation are to be determined by the trier of fact.[32]

         C. Analysis

         Under the applicable standard of review, which requires the Court to accept all of Plaintiff's well pleaded facts as true and in the light most favorable to him, the Court finds that Plaintiff has adequately stated a negligence cause of action against DISA. Plaintiff's allegations are plausible on their face, and the factual content of the allegations allows a sufficient basis for the Court to draw the reasonable inference that DISA may be liable for the conduct alleged. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that DISA, through its employees and/or agents, collected a hair sample from Plaintiff, carried out the testing on the hair sample, and failed to consider Plaintiff's proffered legitimate medical explanation for the non-negative test results. Contrary to DISA's arguments, Plaintiff need not expressly allege a specific duty owed by DISA or that such duty was breached. Rather, ...


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