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Rideau v. Lafayette Health Ventures Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

August 2, 2018





         Currently pending before the court is the motion to strike certain allegations of the plaintiff's complaint, which was filed by the defendants, Lafayette Health Ventures, Inc., Lafayette General Health System Inc., and Al Patin. (Rec. Doc. 10). The motion is opposed. (Rec. Doc. 16). Considering the evidence, the law, and the arguments of the parties, and for the reasons fully explained below, the motion is DENIED.


         The plaintiff's complaint asserted a claim under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq. According to the complaint, Dr. Alecia M. Rideau is a radiologist whose specialty is interpreting breast imaging. She was allegedly hired to work at the Breast Center at Lafayette General Medical Center in Lafayette, Louisiana, in December 2014.

         In February 2016, Dr. Rideau was diagnosed with breast cancer. She took eight weeks of the FMLA leave from March 28, 2016 to May 23, 2016 to accommodate the first stage of her cancer treatment. Upon her return from leave, she requested an additional two weeks of leave in the fall of 2016 to have the second stage of her breast cancer treatment - reconstruction of her breasts following bilateral mastectomy. Dr. Rideau claims that, although she was entitled to another four weeks of FMLA leave in 2016, her direct supervisor, defendant Al Patin, told her that reconstructive surgery was a cosmetic procedure that was not medically necessary, denied her request for leave, and advised that she would have to wait until 2017 to schedule the reconstruction. Mr. Patin also allegedly told Dr. Rideau that he would require her to find a temporary replacement to cover her duties before scheduling her leave. Mr. Patin also allegedly informed Dr. Rideau that her leave in the spring of 2016 had “inconvenienced the staff” and “was distressing” to the other Breast Center radiologist.

         In August 2016, Dr. Rideau requested two weeks of medical leave in March 2017 for breast reconstructive surgery. Approximately a week later, Mr. Patin allegedly summoned Dr. Rideau to his office to discuss her FMLA request. He allegedly fired her instead.

         In this lawsuit, Dr. Rideau seeks to recover for the defendants' alleged violation of the FMLA. She claims that the defendants both interfered with her FMLA rights by illegally denying her FMLA leave to which she was entitled and also retaliated against her for requesting FMLA leave, treating her less favorably than employees who did not request FMLA leave, and ultimately terminating her employment.

         Law and Analysis

         The defendants filed the instant motion, seeking to strike certain allegations set forth in Dr. Rideau's complaint, claiming that they are “immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous” (Rec. Doc. 10 at 1; Rec. Doc. 10-1 at 2) and have no bearing on the plaintiff's claims. Specifically, the defendants moved to strike Paragraph 27 of the complaint, in its entirety, which reads as follows:

Since 1998, health insurers have been required by federal law to provide coverage for reconstructive surgery following mastectomies. See the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 (“WHCRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1185b. At the time the WHCRA was under consideration, insurers quite commonly refused to pay for breast reconstruction after mastectomy on the ground that it was a “cosmetic” procedure and was “not medically necessary.” 144 Cong. Rec. S. 4644, 4650 (1998). The WHCRA remedied this problem.

         The defendants also moved to strike the portion of Paragraph 29 of the complaint, which is underlined below:

Patin informed Plaintiff that he considered reconstructive breast surgery to be a cosmetic and elective procedure; this statement contradicts federal law under the WHCRA. For twenty (20) years, it has been well established in the healthcare field that reconstructive breast surgery is not considered a cosmetic, medically unnecessary procedure. Patin is a registered nurse and a corporate officer of LHV and LGHS, and was well aware or should have been well-aware of this fact. Patin's statement was an attempt to dissuade and restrain Plaintiff from asserting her federally protected rights to FMLA leave for a serious health condition

         Motions to strike are governed by Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which states that “[t]he court may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.” Deciding whether to strike all or a portion of a pleading lies within the court's discretion.[1] A motion to strike under Rule 12(f) “is a drastic remedy to be resorted to only when required for the ...

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