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White v. Amedisys Home Health, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London

September 19, 2017

RHONDA WHITE PLAINTIFF
v.
AMEDISYS HOME HEALTH, LLC, et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          DAVID L. BUNNING UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This is a civil rights (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 344.040) and workers' compensation retaliation (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 342.197) employment action brought against Plaintiff's former employer and two of her former supervisors. Plaintiff filed suit in the Bell County Circuit Court. Defendants removed the action to this Court. The Court does not have jurisdiction over this action, as Plaintiff's claim under Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 342.197, Kentucky Workers' Compensation (“WC Retaliation”) statute, presents a claim arising out of a state workers' compensation claim, for which 28 U.S.C. § 1445(c) prohibits removal. The Court therefore remands this action to the Bell County Circuit Court.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Rhonda A. White is a citizen of Kentucky. (Doc. # 1-1 at 2). Defendant Amedisys Holding, LLC is a Louisiana limited-liability company whose sole member is Amedisys, Inc., a publicly traded corporation registered in Delaware with its principal place of business in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Doc. # 1 at 3). Defendant Melissa McKinney's sole residence for at least the last six years has been in Tennessee. (Doc. # 3). Defendant Melissa Leake's sole residence for at least the last fourteen years has been in Tennessee. (Doc. # 4).

         In March 2017, Plaintiff filed a complaint in Bell County Circuit Court, alleging violations of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (KCRA) and the WC Retaliation statute. (Doc. # 1-1 and 1-5). Plaintiff alleged that she was employed by Amedisys and supervised by Defendants Leake and McKinney; that she was wrongfully harassed, coerced, and discriminated against by Defendants; and was terminated on or about January 31, 2017. (Doc. # 1-1 at ¶¶ 2-4). Plaintiff further alleged the following:

(1) That she was discriminated against based on a work-related injury and workers' compensation claim. Id. at ¶ 4;
(2) That Defendants violated her rights, wrongfully fired her, and discriminated against her. Id. at ¶5;
(3) That she suffered a work-related injury on January 9, 2017, and was wrongfully harassed, coerced, and discriminated against as a “direct result” of her potential workers' compensation claim, her color, her ethnicity, and as a person with a back injury. Id. at ¶ 7; and
(4) That Plaintiff was the only person of color at Amedisys, had not experienced any racial discrimination until new management arrived, in particular, Plaintiff was left out of conversations or conversations stopped when she entered a room, she was excluded from lunch activities, outside break activities, and other outings, and she was segregated and discriminated against, in violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act. Id. at ¶ 6.

         In her prayer for relief, Plaintiff demanded reinstatement, lost wages, back pay, front pay, lost benefits, health care coverage, all costs, workers' compensation benefits, all benefits, and reasonable attorneys' fees, all in excess of five-thousand dollars. Id. at 3. Plaintiff's Complaint also demanded punitive damages in excess of five-thousand dollars. Id.

         Defendants Amedisys, McKinney, and Leake removed the case to this Court, claiming the Court has diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) because complete diversity existed and the amount-in-controversy was met. (Doc. # 1 at 2-4). Specifically, Defendants claimed that Plaintiff's back pay claims, potential emotional distress damage, and requests for attorneys' fees claims collectively added up to more than $75, 000, satisfying § 1332's amount-in-controversy requirement. Id. at 4-6. Plaintiff did not contest the removal of the action.

         On May 2, 2017, Defendants moved to dismiss several of Plaintiff's claims under Rule 12(b)(6). (Doc. # 8). Defendants argued that the claims under the WC Retaliation statute and the KCRA were not legally cognizable against Defendants Leake and McKinney in their individual capacities, and that Plaintiff's putative KCRA conspiracy claim under Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 344.280 (“KCRA Conspiracy”) against all Defendants failed as a matter of law.[1] (Doc. # 8-1 at 5-11). Defendants also requested that the Court extend its time to answer the remaining claims until after the Court ruled on their Motion to Dismiss. Id. at 11. Plaintiff responded by stating that she had no objection to dismissing the claims against Defendants McKinney and Leake, or to the dismissal of a putative retaliation claim. (Doc. # 12). In Defendants' Reply, they urged the Court to dismiss with prejudice all claims against Defendants Leake and McKinney and the putative KCRA Conspiracy claim against Amedisys. (Doc. # 14). Amedisys also requested that the Court order Plaintiff to file an amended complaint, setting forth her remaining claims against Amedisys with greater particularity. Id.

         In considering the partial Motion to Dismiss, it appears that Defendants and Plaintiff are on the exact same page: Plaintiff has agreed to the dismissal of all claims against the individual defendants, and dismissal of the putative KCRA Conspiracy claim against ...


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