United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MURGUIA United States District Judge
matter is before the court on defendants' Motion for
Partial Dismissal of Plaintiffs' Complaint (Doc. 8). For
the reasons below, the court grants defendants' motion,
dismissing Count V against defendant Snow, and dismissing
Counts II and VII against both defendants.
case arises from an employment relationship between
plaintiffs, Mr. Carl Woofter and Mrs. Lee Woofter, and
defendants, Logan County Hospital (LCH) and Mr. Meldon Snow.
Defendant Snow works for LCH as an administrator. Mr. Woofter
worked for LCH as a physician's assistant, and Mrs.
Woofter worked for LCH as a clinic manager. Mr. Woofter was
employed pursuant to a written contract of definite duration,
which automatically renewed each year unless terminated. This
agreement provided multiple clauses for termination,
including “Automatic, ” “Without Cause,
” and “With Cause.” Mr. Woofter worked for
LCH from January 1, 2012 until his termination on October 30,
2015. Mrs. Woofter was an at-will employee of LCH from August
of 2012 until her termination on October 31, 2015.
Woofter alleges that during his employment, defendant Snow
attempted to pressure him into referring more patients to the
services of defendant LCH. Mr. Woofter further alleges that
Snow's conduct violated the Health Insurance Portability
and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the Patients'
Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, and 42 C.F.R. §
411.351. Mr. Woofter believed that altering his practice
would run counter to patients' best interests, and did
not change his referral practice as requested.
Woofter claims that he took approved leave under the Family
and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) on or about October 1,
2015. He was notified of his termination by registered mail
on November 4, 2015. The termination letter stated that he
was terminated for “exhibiting disruptive behavior,
unprofessional or immoral conduct, ” triggering the
employment agreement's “Automatic
Termination” provision. Mr. Woofter claims that
defendants “automatically” terminated him
“for a clearly ‘with cause' reason.” He
further alleges that his termination was retaliatory, for
refusing to violate professional standards by changing his
referral practices, or alternatively, for taking FMLA leave.
Woofter was approved for FMLA leave on June 27, 2015.
Plaintiffs claim that Mrs. Woofter was still experiencing
health issues at the end of her twelve-week leave period.
Plaintiffs allege that defendants were required to
accommodate her under the Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA), but instead terminated her the day after firing Mr.
Woofter. Plaintiffs claim that defendants admitted that they
knew Mrs. Woofter was “disabled” and “not
able to return to work due to ongoing health issues.”
Plaintiffs allege that the firing of Mrs. Woofter, one day
after her husband, was also wrongful and retaliatory.
their termination, plaintiffs brought several employment
discrimination and other claims against both defendants. At
issue in this motion are Mr. Woofter's claim for
Retaliatory Discharge in Violation of Public Policy (Count
II); Mrs. Woofter's claim for Retaliation and Wrongful
Termination in Violation of the Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA) (Count V); and both plaintiffs' claims for
Negligent Interference with Prospective Economic Relations
move for partial dismissal on Count V against defendant Snow
only, and on Counts II and VII against both defendants.
Defendants ask the court to dismiss Count VII with prejudice.
Defendants argue that Kansas does not recognize individual
liability under the ADA claims of Count V, and that no Kansas
law recognizes the cause of action in Count VII. On Count II,
defendants argue that the retaliatory discharge claim is an
exception to the at-will employment rule, and that Mr.
Woofter cannot pursue this claim because he was not an
at-will employee. Defendants also argue that even if
plaintiff may pursue this claim, Count II should be dismissed
against defendant Snow because Kansas does not recognize
supervisor liability in retaliatory discharge suits.
have agreed to dismissal of Count V against defendant Snow
only, and to dismissal of Count VII against both defendants.
The court sees no reason why these claims should not be
dismissed, and therefore dismisses them without prejudice. As
a result, the court will address only Count II, Mr.
Woofter's claim against both defendants for Retaliatory
Discharge in Violation of Public Policy.
court will grant a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) only
when a plaintiff's factual allegations fail to
“state a claim for relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). When evaluating a motion under this rule,
the court (1) assumes all well-pleaded facts to be true; (2)
disregards legal conclusions; and (3) views the facts in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 681 (2009); Tal v. Hogan,
453 F.3d 1244, 1252 (10th Cir. 2006). To survive a motion to
dismiss, a plaintiff's factual allegations need not be
detailed, but must be more than merely “labels,
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action.” In re Motor Fuel Temperature
Sales Practices Litig., 534 F.Supp.2d 1214, 1216 (D.