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Wilson v. Ochsner Clinic Foundation

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

November 4, 2019


         SECTION: “J” (2)

          ORDER & REASONS


         Before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss (Rec. Doc. 4), filed by Defendant, Ochsner Clinic Foundation (“Ochsner”), and an opposition thereto (Rec. Doc. 6) filed by Plaintiff, Stanley Wilson (“Plaintiff”). Having considered the motions and legal memoranda, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that the motion should be GRANTED.


         On December 18, 2017, Plaintiff was hired by Ochsner as a housekeeper with Ochsner's Environmental Services. (Rec. Doc. 1-1). On January 21, 2018, Plaintiff was informed that ABM Industries Inc. (“ABM”) was assuming housekeeping duties at Ochsner, and Plaintiff would be an ABM employee thereafter.[1] During his time employed by ABM and working at various Ochsner locations, Plaintiff alleges he endured several harassing and discriminatory workplace incidents surrounding his sexuality and mental health.

         At some point in early 2018, Plaintiff's supervisor, Mr. Curry, told Plaintiff that he was “too loud” and needed to “straighten up.” Plaintiff believes this was an insinuation about his sexuality. In April 2018, Plaintiff's co-worker Francisco Ortega threw a “chocolate candy mini egg” at the back of Plaintiff's head. Towards the end of May 2018, Plaintiff's co-worker Rose Washington told Plaintiff he was going to hell because he was gay, and subsequently used foul language towards Plaintiff on multiple occasions. Plaintiff reported these incidents to several different supervisors, and no action was taken to correct his co-workers' behavior.

         The inciting incident that led to the present litigation, however, occurred on June 12, 2018. Plaintiff was on lunch break in the parking garage when he attempted to voice-text his co-worker Darius Ellis the following, “I'm looking at the sky in the parking garage, about to walk inside, just looking around.” Unfortunately, Plaintiff's phone misunderstood his statement, and Mr. Ellis received a text saying, “I just want to die, in the parking garage, about to walk inside, just looking down.”

         Plaintiff returned to his work area, where within thirty minutes he was approached his then-supervisor Tanya Hopkins. Hopkins, accompanied by several security personnel, escorted Plaintiff to the emergency department because his text indicated he was suicidal. Plaintiff explained the miscommunication with his phone and stated that although he took Zoloft for depression, he was in no way suicidal.

         Ochsner doctors Nwosu, Furrh, and Galaneu disregarded Plaintiff's explanations, stating that they had the power to confine him to the hospital for as long as a week. When Plaintiff continued to resist voluntary confinement, the emergency department staff allegedly threatened to send Plaintiff involuntarily to an overnight mental health facility in Shreveport, Louisiana. This caused Plaintiff to sign paperwork admitting himself the Ochsner's inpatient psychiatry department, as he was worried he would be unable to return to New Orleans in enough time to care for his 87-year-old mother. En route to the facility, Plaintiff attempted to escape by jumping out of his wheelchair and fleeing. Before he got far, however, an Ochsner staff member chased him down and tackled him.

         The following day at 3:00 pm, the city coroner inspected Plaintiff and found him non-committable. Upon his return to work, Plaintiff learned that Ms. Washington was spreading rumors that he had attempted to commit suicide by jumping off the roof of the parking garage.

         Over the next few months, Plaintiff had a series of increasingly escalated incidents with his co-workers and supervisors. As these incidents are not particularly relevant to the outcome of the present motion, it suffices to say Plaintiff paints a picture of a hostile and discriminatory work environment. Id. On October 19, 2018, Plaintiff's employment was finally terminated.

         On August 1, 2019, Plaintiff brought suit against Ochsner and ABM in Louisiana's Twenty-Fourth Judicial District Court, asserting four causes of action:

1) False Imprisonment;
2) Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress;
3) violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”);
4) violation of Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law.

         On August 27, 2019, Ochsner timely removed the case to this Court. On September 3, 2019, Ochsner filed the instant motion, which asks the Court to dismiss Plaintiff's false imprisonment and emotional distress claims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).


         In deciding a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), “the district court is ‘free to weigh the evidence and resolve factual disputes in order to satisfy itself that it has the power to hear the case.'” Krim v., Inc., 402 F.3d 489, 494 (5th Cir. 2005). The party asserting jurisdiction must carry the burden of proof for a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss. Randall D. Wolcott, M.D., P.A. v. Sebelius, 635 F.3d 757, 762 (5th Cir.2011). The standard of review for a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) is the same as that for a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). United States v. Cityof New Orleans, No. 02-3618, 2003 WL 22208578, at *1 (E.D. La. Sept. 19, 2003). If a court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, it should dismiss without prejudice. In re Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., 624 F.3d 201, 209 (5th Cir. 2010). When a Rule 12(b)(1) ...

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