Little v. Fort Valley State University
ORDER GRANTING 8 Motion to Dismiss. Ordered by Judge Marc Thomas Treadwell on 9/7/2011. (tlh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
DEBRA G. LITTLE,
FORT VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 5:11-CV-158 (MTT)
This matter is before the Court on the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss in Lieu of
Answer (the “Motion”). (Doc. 2). The Plaintiff did not file a response to the Motion. For
the following reasons, the Motion is granted.1
I. STATEMENT OF FACTS
The Plaintiff’s complaint alleges that her former employer violated Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, because the Plaintiff asserts she was discriminated
against on account of her learning disability, her claim is more appropriately analyzed
under § 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et. seq. (the
The Court acknowledges that the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss in Lieu of Answer contains preemptive
references to possible allegations against individuals not named in the lawsuit. The Court will not discuss
the merits of possible claims against individuals not named in the original lawsuit.
Prior to filing this complaint, the Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and was issued a Dismissal and
Notice of Right to Sue on February 7, 2011. The Plaintiff filed her complaint on April 22,
2011(Doc. 1), and the Defendant then filed this Motion on July 12, 2011.
Motion to Dismiss Standard
In determining whether to dismiss a case under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must
take the facts plead in the complaint as true and resolve any ambiguities in favor of the
plaintiff. In re Johannessen, 76 F.3d 347, 350 (11th Cir. 1996). If, after accepting
plaintiff’s allegations as true, plaintiff’s complaint fails to state a claim upon relief should
be granted, the Court should dismiss the claim.
Eleventh Amendment Immunity and the ADA
The Plaintiff brings an ADA claim against the Defendant alleging that she was
discriminated against based on her learning disability. (Doc. 1). The named Defendant
is Fort Valley State University. However, Fort Valley State University is not a proper
defendant to this claim. The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia is
the legal entity responsible for the alleged acts and omissions of Fort Valley State
University. McCafferty v. Med. Coll. of Ga., 249 Ga. 62, 64, 287 S.E. 2d 171, 173
(1982) (overruled on other grounds by Self v. City of Atlanta, 259 Ga. 78, 377 S.E. 2d
674 (1989)); Barnes v. Zaccari, 757 F. Supp. 2d 1313 (M.D. Ga. 2010). Thus, the
Board of Regents is the proper defendant.
Typically, the Court would allow the Plaintiff pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 15 to amend her complaint to join the proper party. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
15(a)(1). However, a “district court may properly deny leave to amend the complaint
under Rule 15(a) when such amendment would be futile.” Hall v. United. Ins. Co. of
America, 367 F.3d 1255, 1262-63 (11th Cir. 2004) (internal quotation marks and citation
omitted). Because requiring Plaintiff to amend her complaint to include the Board of
Regents as the proper defendant would be futile, or ineffective, the Court will analyze
the Motion as if Plaintiff had properly alleged her claim against the Board of Regents,
instead of Fort Valley State University.
Generally, the Eleventh Amendment bars suits against a State or one of its
agencies, departments, or officials, absent a waiver by the State or a valid
congressional override, when the State is a real party in interest or when monetary
recovery would essentially be paid from State funds. Dekalb Cnty. Sch. Dist. v.
Schrenko, 109 F.3d 680, 688 (11th Cir. 1997); See also Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S.
159, 169 (1985). The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia is an arm
of the State of Georgia and is entitled to the same Eleventh Amendment immunity as
the state itself. Williams v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. Sys. of Ga., 477 F.3d 1282, 1301-02
(11th Cir. 2007). Because Congress has not explicitly waived the State of Georgia’s
immunity nor has the State by its own actions waived its immunity to actions brought
under Title I of the ADA, the Plaintiff’s claim against the Board of Regents is barred. Bd.
of Trs. of the Univ. of Ala. v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356 (2001) (holding that suits in federal
courts by state employees to recover money damages by reason of the State’s failure to
comply with Title I of the ADA are barred by the Eleventh Amendment).
For the foregoing reasons, the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.
SO ORDERED, this 7th day of September, 2011.
S/ Marc T. Treadwell
MARC T. TREADWELL, JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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