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Rodriguez v. Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

February 4, 2014


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For LABORATORY CORPORATION OF AMERICA HOLDINGS, Defendant: Brienne E. Henderson, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Robert I. Steiner, PRO HAC VICE, KELLEY, DRYE & WARREN, New York, NY; Cameron R. Argetsinger, KELLEY DRYE & WARREN, LLP, Washington, DC.


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Gladys Kessler, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Florentino Rodriguez (" Rodriguez" or " Plaintiff" ) brings this action against Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (" LabCorp" or " Defendant" ) for declaratory judgment, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, negligence, breach of contract, and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

This matter is before the Court on LabCorp's Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. No. 16]. Upon consideration of the Motion, Opposition [Dkt. No. 17], and Reply [Dkt. No. 19], the entire record herein, and for the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion is granted.


A. Factual Background[1]

Rodriguez was employed by the District of Columbia as an Urban Park Ranger. FAC ¶ 6. During his eleven years of employment in this capacity, he had " an exemplary record with no history of disciplinary problems or personal involvement with illegal drugs." FAC ¶ ¶ 6, 7.

In or about April 2010, Rodriguez was randomly selected to submit a urine sample for drug testing pursuant to the District of Columbia's Mandatory Drug and Alcohol Testing Program for Safety-Sensitive Positions (" Drug Testing Program" ). FAC ¶ 8; see 6-B D.C.M.R. § 3901 et seq. Rodriguez's test results were positive for the presence of marijuana metabolites, and he was subsequently terminated from his employment. FAC ¶ ¶ 21, 23.

Rodriguez does not allege that his test results were inaccurate, or that he had not used marijuana prior to providing his urine sample. Instead, he alleges that LabCorp, who tested his urine and reported the result, failed to follow government-mandated procedures in doing so, thereby improperly causing his positive result to be reported to his employer. Id. ¶ ¶ 9-23.

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Rodriguez relies on certain provisions in Title 6 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations, and the United States Department of Transportation regulations incorporated therein, which the District of Columbia has adopted in connection with its Drug Testing Program (collectively, " regulations" or " quality control regulations" ). See 6-B D.C.M.R. § 3901 et seq.; 49 C.F.R. Part 40. The regulations require a testing laboratory to conduct both an initial screen and a confirmatory test before reporting a drug test as positive. 6-B D.C.M.R. § 3906.4; see also 49 C.F.R. § 40.87. To conduct the initial screen, the laboratory must use an enzyme-multiplied immunoassay technique (" EMIT" ) test. 6-B D.C.M.R. § 3906.4. If the initial screen is positive, the laboratory must then use a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (" GCMS" ) test to confirm the positive result and quantify the precise concentration of drug metabolites. Id.

The regulations set " cutoff concentrations," which determine whether the initial screen and confirmatory test should be reported as positive. See 49 C.F.R. § 40.87(a). If a test result is below the cutoff, the laboratory must report it as negative. Id. § 40.87(b)-(c). If a test result is at or above the cutoff concentration, the laboratory must report it as positive. Id. § 40.87(b)-(c). In the case of a marijuana test, the relevant cutoff concentrations are 50 ng/mL for the initial screen and 15 ng/mL for the confirmatory test. Id. § 40.87 (a).

Rodriguez contends that " there is absolutely no evidence or information in the report provided to the District of Columbia indicating that he had a positive initial urine screen, i.e. over 50 ng/mL." FAC ¶ 12. Therefore, he argues LabCorp was not legally permitted to conduct a confirmatory test, or to report his test results as positive to the District of Columbia's Human Resources Department. FAC ¶ ¶ 13, 14, 21.[2] Rodriguez also claims that LabCorp performed the wrong type of testing because it administered a " qualitative test," and not the test specified in 6-B D.C.M.R. § 3906. FAC ¶ ¶ 15-16. On these grounds, Rodriguez maintains that he " was denied a fair test in compliance with District of Columbia government procedures." FAC ¶ 17.

B. Procedural Background

On April 19, 2013, Rodriguez filed his original Complaint in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, bringing claims against LabCorp for negligence, gross negligence, and breach of contract. On May 10, 2013, LabCorp removed the case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § § 1332, 1441, and 1446. [Dkt. No. 1]. LabCorp then moved to dismiss Rodriguez's Complaint [Dkt. No. 9], but subsequently withdrew its motion after the parties stipulated to permit Rodriguez to file an amended complaint. [Dkt. No. 13].

On August 2, 2013, Rodriguez filed his FAC, asserting claims against LabCorp for declaratory judgment, fraud,negligent misrepresentation,negligence, breach of contract, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. See generally FAC [Dkt. No. 15]. The FAC also includes claims against " John Doe" Defendants for intentional interference with prospective economic advantage and

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intentional interference with business relations. FAC ¶ ¶ 64-85.[3]

On August 23, 2013, LabCorp moved to dismiss the FAC pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. [Dkt. No. 16]. On September 5, 2013, Plaintiff filed his Opposition. [Dkt. No. 17]. On September 24, 2013, LabCorp filed its Reply. [Dkt. No. 19].


To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint " must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). " The plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. A pleading that offers mere " labels and conclusions" or a " formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" will not suffice; nor will " naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557) (internal punctuation omitted). The factual allegations " must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level," Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, and to permit the Court " to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

" In determining whether a complaint states a claim, the court may consider the facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached thereto or incorporated therein, and matters of which it may take judicial notice." Stewart v. Nat'l Educ. Ass'n, 471 F.3d 169, 173, 374 U.S. App. D.C. 46 (D.C. Cir. 2006) (citation omitted). A court may also consider documents of undisputed authenticity that " are referred to in the complaint and are integral to" the plaintiff's claims. Kaempe v. Myers, 367 F.3d 958, 965, 361 U.S. App. D.C. 335 (D.C. Cir. 2004) (citation omitted).

The court is required to accept the complaint's factual allegations as true and give a plaintiff " the benefit of all inferences that can reasonably be drawn from such allegations." Kaempe, 367 F.3d at 963 (citation omitted). However, the court need not accept plaintiff's legal conclusions couched as factual allegations. Jacobs v. Vrobel, 724 F.3d 217, 221, 406 U.S. App. D.C. 286 (D.C. Cir. 2013). Nor must it accept " inferences drawn by plaintiffs if such inferences are unsupported by the facts set out in the complaint," or by ...

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