United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
LAURA L. WALKER, Plaintiff,
INVENTIV HEALTH, INC., Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
E. DOWDELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff, Laura L. Walker, initiated this suit against the
defendant, inVentiv Health, Inc. (inVentiv Health) in state
court, asserting claims under the Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
InVentiv Health removed the case, asserting federal question
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
to Ms. Walker's petition, she was hired by inVentiv
Health on October 13, 2014, to serve as a Neuroscience
Specialty Representative. (Doc. 2-4). On July 16, 2015, she
was hospitalized for a thyrotoxic crisis and she was
diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, which caused muscle weakness,
difficulty walking, exhaustion, insomnia, rapid heart rate
and palpitations, unstable blood pressure, shortness of
breath and several other problems. An endocrinologist
subsequently diagnosed Ms. Walker with subacute autoimmune
thyroiditis, requiring bedrest and anti-inflammatory
medication. Ms. Walker promptly notified inVentiv Health of
her serious medical condition.
Walker experienced severe abdominal pain that resulted in her
emergency hospitalization four times over the week of August
9, 2015. She had planned to return to work on August 13,
2015, but was unable to as a result of the abdominal pain.
She communicated with her direct supervisor and inVentiv
Health's Human Resources Manager about her inability to
work on August 13. InVentiv Health responded by e-mail,
informing her that her employment would be terminated if she
did not return to work by August 17, 2015.
Walker underwent emergency exploratory surgery on August 14,
2015. From the hospital, she e-mailed her Human Resources
manager, direct supervisor, and Cigna, which was inVentiv
Health's third-party leave management contractor, to
notify them that her medical condition and hospitalization
rendered her temporarily unable to complete all of the
required leave paperwork. Plaintiff alleges that inVentiv
Health was “unwilling to grant Plaintiff's request
regarding submission of the FMLA paperwork to be complete[d]
by [her] physicians, and refused to waiver [sic] from the
position [she] would be terminated if she did not return to
work by August 17, 2015, with a release from her doctor. To
no avail, Plaintiff urged Defendant for accommodation,
explaining to Defendant that it would be impossible to meet
such a demand.” (Doc. 2-4 at ¶ 26). When she did
not return to work on August 17, 2015, inVentiv Health sent
Ms. Walker an e-mail terminating her employment.
Walker alleges that inVentiv Health discriminated against her
on the basis of disability, in violation of the ADA (First
Claim). She further contends that inVentiv Health violated
the FMLA by interfering with her FMLA rights (Second Claim),
refusing to reinstate her to her former position (Third
Claim), and discharged her in retaliation for exercising her
FMLA rights (Fourth Claim).
Health moves to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), (6) and
56 based on its arguments that the Court does not have
personal jurisdiction and plaintiff's FMLA claims should
be dismissed as she was not an employee for the required
minimum amount of time (12 months) to qualify for FMLA
Health asserts that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction
over it. (Doc. 13 at 2). For a court to exercise personal
jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, the plaintiff must
demonstrate the existence of facts satisfying both the
forum's long-arm statute and the Due Process Clause of
the United States Constitution. See Niemi v.
Lasshofer, 770 F.3d 1331, 1348 (10th Cir. 2014).
“Because Oklahoma's long-arm statute permits the
exercise of any jurisdiction that is consistent with the
United States Constitution, the personal jurisdiction inquiry
under Oklahoma law collapses into the single due process
inquiry.” Intercon, Inc. v. Bell Atl. Internet
Solutions, Inc., 205 F.3d 1244, 1247 (10th Cir. 2000)
(citing Rambo v. Am. S. Ins. Co., 839 F.2d 1415,
1416 (10th Cir. 1988)); see Niemi, 770 F.3d at 1348;
see also 12 Okla. Stat. § 2004(F).
order to evaluate whether the exercise of personal
jurisdiction comports with due process, ” the court
“must first assess whether ‘the defendant has
such minimum contacts with the forum state that [it] should
reasonably anticipate being haled into court
there.'” Niemi, 770 F.3d at 1348 (quoting
Emp'rs Mut. Cas. Co. v. Bartile Roofs, Inc., 618
F.3d 1153, 1159-60 (10th Cir. 2010)). If a defendant has
minimum contacts with the forum state, the court then
determines “whether the exercise of personal
jurisdiction over [that] defendant offends traditional
notions of fair play and substantial justice.”
minimum contacts standard may be satisfied by showing general
or specific jurisdiction. Id. Specific jurisdiction
exists “‘if the defendant has purposefully
directed his activities at residents of the forum, and the
litigation results from alleged injuries that arise out of or
relate to those activities.'” Intercon,
205 F.3d at 1247 (quoting Burger King Corp. v.
Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472 (1985)). When a
plaintiff's claim does not arise directly from a
defendant's forum-related activities, the court may
nonetheless maintain general personal jurisdiction over the
defendant based on the defendant's contacts with the
forum state. See Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia v.
Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414-16 & n.9 (1984).
“[D]ue process is not offended by a State's
subjecting the corporation to its in personam jurisdiction
when there are sufficient contacts between the State and the
foreign corporation.” Id. at 414. Thus,
“[a] court may assert general jurisdiction over foreign
(sister-state or foreign-country) corporations to hear any
and all claims against them when their affiliations with the
State are so ‘continuous and systematic' as to
render them essentially at home in the forum State.”
Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. __, ___, 134 S.Ct.
746, 754 (2014) (quoting Goodyear Dunlop Tires
Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. __, ___, 131 S.Ct.
2846, 2851 (2011)). The inquiry “calls for an appraisal
of a corporation's activities in their entirety, ”
and a “corporation that operates in many places can
scarcely be deemed at home in all of them.”
Id. at 762, n. 20.
the Court determines a motion to dismiss based on an alleged
absence of personal jurisdiction without an evidentiary
hearing, “the plaintiff need only make a prima facie
showing of personal jurisdiction to defeat the motion.”
See Old Republic Ins. Co. v. Continental Motors,
Inc., 877 F.3d 895, 903 (10th Cir. 2017) (quoting
Soma Med. Int'l v. Standard Chartered Bank, 196
F.3d 1292, 1295 (10th Cir. 1999). In determining whether
plaintiff has made a prima facie showing, all ...