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Peggy A. Evans v. Vocamotive

September 18, 2012

PEGGY A. EVANS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VOCAMOTIVE, INC., GIBSON ELECTRIC CO., INC., AND ZURICH AMERICAN INSURANCE CO., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Joan B. Gottschall

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

Plaintiff Peggy A. Evans sued Vocamotive, Inc. ("Vocamotive"), Gibson Electric Co., Inc. ("Gibson"), International Rehabilitation Associates, Inc. ("Intracorp"), Zurich American Insurance Company ("Zurich"), and Intracorp employee James Cooper for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S. § 12181 et seq, and state-law claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED"), misrepresentation, and retaliatory discharge. Evans previously voluntarily dismissed her claims against Intercorp and Cooper without prejudice. Now before the court is Zurich's motion to dismiss Counts III and VI of Evans's First Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Because Evans has failed to allege facts that satisfy the elements of an IIED claim, the court dismisses Count III without prejudice. The court dismisses Count VI with prejudice because Evans's misrepresentation claim is barred by the statute of limitations applicable to such claims under Illinois law.

I. BACKGROUND

For the purposes of this motion to dismiss, the facts alleged in Evans's First Amended Complaint are taken as true. Evans was employed by Gibson as a Construction "A" Electrician. She suffered severe injuries when she fell from a ladder on July 14, 2004. Zurich was Gibson's worker's compensation carrier. Intracorp performed case management services for Evans's medical needs, and Cooper was the case manager assigned to work with Evans and her treating physicians between July 30, 2004, and August 8, 2007, when Intracorp removed Cooper from the case. Zurich provided Evans with a brochure stating, "If your injury is serious or involves complicated medical issues a medical nurse will be assigned." On August 3, 2004, Cooper sent a letter to Evans implying that he was qualified and knowledgeable to medically manage her case. Evans signed a consent form allowing Cooper access to her medical information from August 10, 2004, through October 10, 2005. Evans claims that she signed the form based on her presumption that Cooper was a qualified registered nurse. On January 13, 2006, Evans learned that Cooper was not in fact a registered professional nurse.

The First Amended Complaint includes twelve pages of factual allegations concerning Cooper's alleged mismanagement of Evans's medical case between 2004 and 2007. Essentially, Evans claims that, because of Cooper's mismanagement of the case, Zurich denied her medical benefits, including second medical opinions, surgery, prescriptions, and treatment plans. Evans claims that her medical condition deteriorated during that time. She also claims that Cooper caused Zurich to deny her Temporary Total Disability benefits. According to the complaint, those benefits were suspended from September 26, 2005, through November 29, 2005; again from December 27, 2005, through March 22, 2006; from September 26, 2006, until November 29, 2006; and from January 4, 2007, to the present.

On March 15, 2010, Vocomotive received a prescription from Zurich for Evans to have vocational training. Because she had to take a train, a bus, and then a cab to reach Vocamotive, Evans requested to attend a facility closer to her home, but that request was denied. After an interview and vocational testing, Evans was scheduled for classes and training from June 3, 2010, through October 4, 2010, to prepare her for a clerical position. She was also given a prescription for Work Hardening Conditioning and attended Work Hardening Therapy (a type of physical/occupational therapy) from May 13, 2010, until July 15, 2010. Evans was scheduled to attend sixteen weeks of job retraining classes on Mondays and Wednesdays. Evans asked to attend classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays instead, but that request was denied.

From June 3, 2010, to July 28, 2010, Zurich paid for Evans to attend job retraining and rehabilitation classes at Vocamotive. On July 28, 2010, Evans became ill. One of her treating physicians, Dr. May, ordered her to stay home for two weeks due to neck and carpal tunnel pain and stress. When Evans returned to class on August 23, 2010, she was told by Vocamotive's staff that she should not be in the class, and Zurich did not pay Evans temporary worker's compensation benefits for that week of classes. On September 1 and September 13, 2010, Evans tried to attend classes but was again told by Vocamotive that she should not be in the classes. She lost additional worker's compensation benefits for those weeks. On September 13, Evans was told to leave Vocamotive's premises after the police were called. Vocamotive did not permit Evans to return to job retraining classes. Evans registered for classes at Truman College, but Zurich refused to pay for those classes.

Evans further claims that, on June 24, 2010, she received a referral to Mount Sinai hospital from Dr. May, but Zurich denied the referral. On June 29, 2010, Zurich rejected an arbitrator's recommendation that Zurich pay Evans $11,000.00 in owed Temporary Total Disability Benefits. On July 12, 2010, Evans went to an appointment with Dr. Gireesan, who referred her to a psychiatrist, but Zurich denied the referral. Evans claims that she has suffered from depression and psychological issues as a result of Zurich's denial of her job retraining and medical benefits.

II.LEGAL STANDARD

To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must include allegations that "plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a 'speculative level;'" otherwise, "the plaintiff pleads itself out of court." E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009). The court treats all well-pleaded allegations as true and draws all reasonable factual inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Justice v. Town of Cicero, 577 F.3d 768, 771 (7th Cir. 2009).

Claims of fraud or misrepresentation are also governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b), which requires a party "alleging fraud or mistake . . . [to] state with particularity the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake." In order to survive a motion to dismiss a claim of fraud, a plaintiff must allege the identity of the person who made the misrepresentation, the time, place, and content of the misrepresentation, and the method by which the misrepresentation was communicated to the plaintiff. Borsellino v. Goldman Sacks Grp., Inc., 447 F.3d 502, 507 (7th Cir. 2007). The absence of any necessary detail renders the pleading deficient.

III.ANALYSIS

A. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (Count III)

Count III of the First Amended Complaint is an IIED claim against Zurich. Evans alleges that Zurich arranged with Vocamotive to provide vocational rehabilitation and job retraining services to Evans on or about June 3, 2010, and that Zurich controlled the parameters of the services provided. According to Evans, Zurich had a duty to exercise the degree of care required of reasonably well-qualified providers of such services. She further alleges that Zurich was aware that Evans was susceptible to emotional distress due to a disabling physical condition. Evans claims that Zurich failed to provide her with job retraining, knowing that her inability to work and support herself would cause her severe emotional distress, and that Zurich withheld disability checks to which Evans was entitled when Vocamotive refused to ...


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