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Story v. Our Lady of Lake Physician Group

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

April 20, 2018

DR. GAY M. STORY
v.
OUR LADY OF THE LAKE PHYSICIAN GROUP

          RULING AND ORDER

          JOHN W. deGRAVELLES UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is a Motion for Partial Dismissal of the Amended Complaint filed by Defendant Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group (“Defendant”). (“Motion, ” Doc. 24). Plaintiff Dr. Gay M. Story (“Plaintiff”) has filed an Opposition, (Doc. 27), and Defendant has filed a Reply in further support of the Motion, (Doc. 28).

         For the reasons discussed below, the Motion is granted.

         II. PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

         Plaintiff is a 46-year-old African-American woman who started working for Defendant on March 8, 2015. (Doc. 19 at 2). Plaintiff's “base salary was working for a base compensation under the initial two-year term of the employment agreement.” (Id.). After that, Defendant had discretion to convert her base compensation from a fixed salary to a compensation model based on other metrics. (Id.).

         In mid-October 2016, Plaintiff asked to meet with Dr. Curtis Chastain, Defendant's President and Medical Director, to discuss Plaintiff's upcoming contract renewal in March 2017. (Id.). Plaintiff told Chastain that she was concerned about her “patient numbers” affecting her compensation. (Id.). Chastain asked Plaintiff to draft an email so that there would be “something to discuss with the Board.” (Id.). Plaintiff sent Chastain an email asking to negotiate a “partially set salary” to allow her time to build up her patient population. (Id.). She also cited reasons why she could not work a full-time workweek, citing “chaos and turmoil, ” poor supervision, understaffing, and other issues in the clinic where she worked. (Id. at 2-4).

         After sending the email, Plaintiff received an email indicating that Chastain and Vice President of Operations Ladonna Green wanted to meet with Plaintiff and discuss her request, and this meeting occurred on November 11, 2016. (Id. at 4). Present at the meeting were Plaintiff, Chastain, Green, and Vice President of Finance Jamy Richard. (Id.). During the meeting, Chastain, Green, and Richard “[i]mmediately” began attacking Plaintiff about her patient numbers and falsely accused her of denying patient referrals. (Id.). Plaintiff tried to “steer” the conversation back toward issues identified in her email, but Chastain stood up, opened the door, and said “this meeting is over.” (Id.). Plaintiff contends that she had received no reprimands and had no record of malpractice or disciplinary action before the meeting. (Id.).

         Thirty minutes later, Green called to advise Plaintiff that she was being placed on administrative leave because Plaintiff had not agreed with “the proposal.” (Id.). Plaintiff asked, “what proposal?, ” and Green said Plaintiff was “insubordinate as she raised her voice.” (Id.).

         On November 14, 2016, Green told Plaintiff that Defendant had decided to terminate her without cause. (Id. at 5). The next day, Plaintiff submitted an appeal letter “raising allegations of unlawful discrimination against her in placing her on administrative leave and attempting to discharge her without due process and for treating her rudely and unfairly in the November 11 meeting.” (Id.).

         On November 22, 2016, Plaintiff received a letter from Vice President of Human Resources Ann Bollone informing Plaintiff that she was terminated “effective November 22, 2016.” (Id.). Defendant has sent three separation notices concerning the termination to the Louisiana Workforce Commission; Plaintiff alleges that these notices have been inconsistent. (Id. at 5-6). Specifically, Plaintiff maintains that the separation notices variously represented that her date of separation was either November 15, 2016 or November 22, 2016; and that Plaintiff's “reason for separation” was either “terminated/fired” or “resigned/quit.” (Id.).

         Plaintiff alleges retaliation; discrimination on account of age, race, and sex; and a state tort claim under Louisiana Civil Code article 2315. (Id. at 6-7). The paragraph stating Plaintiff's retaliation claim reads as follows:

[Plaintiff] reiterates the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 25 above. [Plaintiff] complained in writing to high-ranking officials about unlawful discrimination against her, and [Defendant] singled [Plaintiff] out for adverse treatment by firing her in direct retaliation for her complaints of unlawful discrimination.

(Id. at 7).

Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC and received a Notice of Right to Sue letter dated September 5, 2017. (Doc. 7-1). This lawsuit was filed September 18, 2017.

(Doc. 1).

         III. DISCUSSION A. General Standards

         In Johnson v. City of Shelby, Miss., ___ U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 346 (2014), the Supreme Court explained that “[f]ederal pleading rules call for a ‘short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); they do not countenance dismissal of a complaint for imperfect statement of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted.” 135 S.Ct. at 346-47 (citation omitted).

         Interpreting Rule 8(a), the Fifth Circuit has explained:

The complaint (1) on its face (2) must contain enough factual matter (taken as true) (3) to raise a reasonable hope or expectation (4) that discovery will reveal relevant evidence of each element of a claim. “Asking for [such] plausible grounds to infer [the element of a claim] does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage; it simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal [that the elements of the claim existed].” Lormand v. U.S. Unwired, Inc., 565 F.3d 228, 257 (5th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.

Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)).

         Applying the above case law, the Western District of ...


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