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Medeiros v. Akahi Services, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

May 31, 2018




         On December 1, 2017, Defendant Akahi Services Inc. (“Defendant”) filed its Motion to Dismiss [22] Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint Filed on November 17, 2017 (“Motion”). [Dkt. no. 28.] Plaintiff Jennifer M. K. Medeiros (“Plaintiff”) filed her memorandum in opposition on February 5, 2018, and Defendant filed its reply on February 12, 2018. [Dkt. nos. 37, 38.] This matter came on for hearing on February 26, 2018. The Motion is hereby granted as to Count III, which is dismissed with prejudice, and as to that portion of Count IV which is based on employment discrimination, which is dismissed with prejudice. The Motion is hereby granted without prejudice as to that portion of Count IV based on continued sexual harassment. Plaintiff may file a motion for leave to file a second amended complaint as to this portion of Count IV only.


         The Ninth Circuit has described the standard applicable to a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) as follows:

To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim after the Supreme Court's decisions in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007), the [plaintiff's] factual allegations “must . . . suggest that the claim has at least a plausible chance of success.” In re Century Aluminum [Co. Sec. Litig.], 729 F.3d [1104, ] 1107 [(9th Cir. 2013)]. In other words, their complaint “must allege ‘factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937).
Following Iqbal and Twombly, . . . . we have settled on a two-step process for evaluating pleadings:
First, to be entitled to the presumption of truth, allegations in a complaint or counterclaim may not simply recite the elements of a cause of action, but must contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively. Second, the factual allegations that are taken as true must plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, such that it is not unfair to require the opposing party to be subjected to the expense of discovery and continued litigation.
[Eclectic Props. E., LLC v. Marcus & Millichap Co., 751 F.3d 990, 996 (9th Cir. 2014)] (quoting Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011)). In all cases, evaluating a complaint's plausibility is a “context-specific” endeavor that requires courts to “draw on . . . judicial experience and common sense.” Id. at 995-96 (internal quotation marks omitted).

Levitt v. Yelp! Inc., 765 F.3d 1123, 1134-35 (9th Cir. 2014) (some alterations in Levitt).

         This district court has stated, “although allegations ‘upon information and belief' may state a claim after Iqbal and Twombly, a claim must still be based on factual content that makes liability plausible, and not be ‘formulaic recitations of the elements of a cause of action.'” Klohs v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 901 F.Supp.2d 1253, 1260 n.2 (D. Hawai`i 2012) (quoting Long v. Yomes, 2011 WL 4412847, at *4 (D. Haw. Sept. 20, 2011) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955) (editorial mark omitted)).


         Plaintiff, who was then pro se, filed her Employment Discrimination Complaint on June 28, 2017. [Dkt. no. 1.] Subsequently, on October 30, 2017, she was appointed pro bono representation and filed her First Amended Complaint on November 17, 2017 (“First Amended Complaint”). [Dkt. nos. 18, 22.]

         Plaintiff's claims in this matter arise out of her employment with Defendant, which commenced in 1999, and where she was promoted, first to executive vice president, and in 2013, to company president. [Id. at ¶¶ 9-11, 18.] She alleges that her immediate supervisor was Defendant's chief executive officer, William Orihuela (“Orihuela”) and that, during her employment with Defendant, Orihuela repeatedly made inappropriate sexual remarks, grabbed her once, and subjected her to sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination. [Id. at ¶¶ 12-15, 22.] On July 21, 2015, and following her third maternity leave, she was fired. [Id. at ¶¶ 27, 35, 36.]

         Four claims are alleged: pregnancy discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. 2000e, et seq. (“Count I”); retaliation in violation of Title VII (“Count II”); sexual harassment and hostile work environment in violation of Title VII (“Count III”); and intentional infliction of emotional distress ...

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