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Akinsinde v. Not-For-Profit Hospital Corp.

United States District Court, District of Columbia

November 3, 2016

Irene Akinsinde, Plaintiff,
Not-For-Profit Hospital Corporation, Defendant.


          Amit P. Mehta United States District Judge


         Plaintiff Irene Akinsinde is a nurse who worked in the psychiatric ward of Defendant Not-For-Profit Hospital Corporation for eleven years. She brings this lawsuit seeking redress for two general categories of alleged misconduct. First, Plaintiff claims that Defendant failed to pay her overtime, as required by federal and District of Columbia law, during her entire tenure as Defendant's employee. As to those acts of non-payment, Plaintiff advances three separate claims under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (Count I), the D.C. Minimum Wage Revision Act (Count II), and the D.C. Wage Payment and Collection Law (Count III). Second, Plaintiff alleges that her immediate supervisor-motivated by personal animosity-falsely accused her of discarding a patient's medications, which ultimately resulted in Plaintiff's termination. As to that conduct, Plaintiff raises a single common law tort claim for negligent supervision (Count IV).[1]

         Defendant has moved to dismiss all claims. Specifically, it contends that each of Plaintiff's claims must be dismissed for two main reasons: (1) Plaintiff failed to serve Defendant with timely notice of her claims under D.C. Code § 44-951.14(d); and (2) Plaintiff failed to plead sufficient facts to give rise to a plausible claim for relief as to each of her claims.

         For the reasons explained below, Defendant's Motion is granted in part and denied in part.


         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff Irene Akinsinde is a licensed practical nurse. First Am. Compl., ECF No. 6 [hereinafter Am. Compl.], ¶ 8. Since 2004, she has worked in the psychiatric ward of Defendant Not-For-Profit Hospital Corporation's hospital, now known as United Medical Center. Id. When Plaintiff began her work at the hospital, it was privately owned and operated. However, in 2011, the District of Columbia government created Defendant as “an instrumentality of the District government” for the purpose of acquiring the hospital's assets and continuing its operations. See D.C. Code § 44-951.02. Thus, Defendant is an arm of the District government, albeit one with “a separate legal existence.” Id. § 44-951.02(a).

         According to Plaintiff, Defendant's policies allowed hospital staff members who worked an eight-hour shift to take two unpaid 15-minute breaks and one unpaid 30-minute meal break. Am. Compl. ¶ 9. Due to chronic understaffing in the psychiatric ward, however, Plaintiff “routinely worked the entire day . . . without taking a break” and she was not paid for these additional hours of work. Id. ¶¶ 14-15. Moreover, Plaintiff avers that she did not receive an overtime rate of pay for the work she did in excess of 40 hours. Id. ¶¶ 18, 33. Plaintiff claims that such nonpayment and underpayment occurred “during the entire time that she was employed by [D]efendant.” Id. ¶ 16.

         At some unspecified time, Grea Neverson-Daniels became Plaintiff's supervisor. Id. ¶ 21. Plaintiff knew Neverson-Daniels's husband before he married Neverson-Daniels, causing friction between Plaintiff and her supervisor. Id. Plaintiff complained to a Human Resources officer, Jennifer Dupree, about her mistreatment by Neverson-Daniels, but no one took corrective action. Id. ¶¶ 22-23. Tensions continued to escalate between Plaintiff and Neverson-Daniels, culminating in Neverson-Daniels falsely accusing Plaintiff of discarding a patient's medications. Id. ¶ 24. According to Plaintiff, “neither the Director of Human Resources or any other . . . supervisors took it upon themselves to investigate and intervene, ” despite evidence of Plaintiff's innocence-she was not at work on the day in question. Id. ¶¶ 24-25. Although “preposterous and false, ” Neverson-Daniels's accusation caused Plaintiff to be fired on March 9, 2015. Id. ¶ 25.

         B. Procedural History

         Plaintiff originally brought this case in D.C. Superior Court on February 17, 2016, after which Defendant removed it to this court. See Notice and Pet. for Removal, ECF No. 1, at 1. Plaintiff then filed an Amended Complaint. See Am. Compl. Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint is now before the court and ripe for consideration. See Def.'s Second Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 8 [hereinafter Def.'s Mot.].[2]


         In evaluating a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must accept a plaintiff's factual allegations as true and “construe the complaint ‘in favor of the plaintiff, who must be granted the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged.'” Hettinga v. United States, 677 F.3d 471, 476 (D.C. Cir. 2012) (quoting Schuler v. United States, 617 F.2d 605, 608 (D.C. Cir. 1979)). The court need not accept as true either “a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation, ” Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986), or “inferences . . . unsupported by the facts set out in the complaint, ” Kowal v. MCI Commc'ns Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994).

         “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 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible when “the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. The factual allegations in the complaint need not be “detailed”; however, the Federal Rules demand more than “an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Id. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. If the facts as alleged fail to establish that a plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted, then a court must grant the defendant's Rule 12(b)(6) motion. See Am. Chemistry Council, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 922 F.Supp.2d 56, 61 (D.D.C. 2013).


         The court first considers Defendant's contention that each of Plaintiff's claims must be dismissed because she has failed to provide notice of her claims in advance of filing suit, as required by D.C. Code § 44-951.14(d). Having concluded that Plaintiff did provide proper notice, the court then turns to Defendant's arguments concerning the sufficiency of Plaintiff's pleading.

         A. Whether Plaintiff Has Satisfied the Notice Requirement of ...

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