Stanford v. Halloway et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION (c/m to Plaintiff 3/20/17 sat). Signed by Judge Deborah K. Chasanow on 3/20/2017. (sat, Chambers)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
FERNANDO R. STANFORD
Civil Action No. DKC 16-1355
JIM HALLOWAY, et al.
Presently pending and ready for resolution in this case is
the motion to dismiss filed by Defendants Jim Alloway, Frank
(ECF No. 9).
The issues have
been briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed
Local Rule 105.6.
For the following reasons, the
motion to dismiss will be granted.
Defendant United Schutzhund Clubs of America (“Schutzhund”)
is a non-profit organization related to German Shepherd dogs.
(ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 5-7).
Plaintiff Fernando Stanford (“Plaintiff”)
Unless otherwise noted, the facts outlined here are set
forth in the complaint and construed in the light most favorable
was a member of the local chapter of Schutzhund in New Windsor,
(Id. ¶¶ 6-7).
In May 2015, Plaintiff’s membership
was terminated after he competed at the National Championship of
After discovering Plaintiff’s participation in
the GSDCA competition, Defendants terminated his membership and
refunded his dues.
Schutzhund and various members of its board of directors on May
5, 2016, alleging a violation of Title II of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000a (“Title II”).
(ECF No. 1 ¶ 1).
Title II prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color,
religion, or national origin in places of public accommodation.
purported reason for terminating his membership - violation of
the policy on competing organizations - is a pretext for racial
discrimination, and that his membership was actually terminated
because of his Hispanic heritage.
(ECF No. 1 ¶ 8).
to the complaint, there are at least five Caucasian members of
memberships have not been terminated.
Plaintiff responded (ECF No. 12), and Defendants replied (ECF
Standard of Review
The arguments Defendants raise in their motion implicate
multiple standards of review.
First, Defendants’ argument that
Plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies is analyzed
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) because it could deprive this court
of jurisdiction to hear Plaintiff’s claims.
Group, Ltd., 551 F.3d 297, 300 (4th
Jones v. Calvert
‘first, because they concern the court’s very power to hear the
Owens-Illinois, Inc. v. Meade, 186 F.3d 435, 442 n.4
(4th Cir. 1999) (quoting 2 James Moore, et al., Moore’s Federal
Practice § 12.301 (3d ed. 1998)).
The plaintiff always bears the
properly exists in federal court.
See Evans v. B.F. Perkins
Co., a Div. of Standex Int’l Corp., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir.
Dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is
appropriate “only if the material jurisdictional facts are not
in dispute and the moving party is entitled to prevail as a
matter of law.”
Id. (citation omitted).
Second, Defendants argue that the complaint fails to state
a plausible claim for relief under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test
Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006).
need only satisfy the standard of Rule 8(a), which requires a
“short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader
is entitled to relief.”
still requires a ‘showing,’ rather than a blanket assertion, of
entitlement to relief.”
544, 555 n.3 (2007).
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
That showing must consist of more than “a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” or
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citations omitted).
At this stage, all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint
must be considered as true, Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266,
268 (1994), and all factual allegations must be construed in the
Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d 776, 783 (4th Cir.
1999) (citing Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134
(4th Cir. 1993)); Brockington v. Boykins, 637 F.3d 503, 505-06
(4th Cir. 2011).
“[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit
the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct,
the complaint has alleged, but it has not ‘show[n] that the
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).
Thus, “[d]etermining whether a
complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw
on its judicial experience and common sense.”
held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)); Haines v. Kerner,
404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).
Liberal construction means that the
court will read the pleadings to state a valid claim to the
extent that it is possible to do so from the facts available; it
does not mean that the court should rewrite the complaint to
include claims never presented.
1128, 1132 (10th Cir. 1999).
Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d
That is, even when pro se litigants
are involved, the court cannot ignore a clear failure to allege
facts that support a viable claim.
Weller v. Dep’t of Soc.
Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990); Forquer v. Schlee, No.
RDB–12–969, 2012 WL 6087491, at *3 (D.Md. Dec. 4, 2012) (“[E]ven
a pro se complaint must be dismissed if it does not allege a
plausible claim for relief.” (citation and internal quotation
procedural prerequisites of § 2000a-3(c).
(ECF No. 9-1, at 7-
required to exhaust administrative remedies, see 42 U.S.C. §
2000a-6(a), but, in a state that has both laws prohibiting the
alleged discriminatory conduct and state authorities that can
brought under [Title II] before the expiration of thirty days
after written notice of such alleged act or practice has been
given to the appropriate State or local authority,” id. § 2000a3(c).
See also Crumb v. McDonald’s Corp., No. DKC-15-1719, 2016
WL 759213, at *8 (D.Md Feb. 26, 2016).
Maryland law prohibits
discrimination on the basis of race in public accommodations;
therefore, Plaintiff was required to provide notice to the state
Thompson, No. HAR-95-2154, 1995 WL 860632, at *2 (D.Md. Nov. 28,
Plaintiff’s complaint does not allege that he provided any
allegation is missing from his complaint.
In his opposition to
the motion, however, he maintains that he did “contact the local
office on discrimination only to be told there was nothing they
(ECF No. 12, at 3).
“[I]t is axiomatic that the
complaint may not be amended by the briefs in opposition to a
F.Supp. 1053, 1068 (D.Md. 1991) (quoting Car Carriers, Inc. v.
Ford Motor Co., 745 F.2d 1101 (7th Cir. 1984)); see Zachair Ltd.
v. Driggs, 965 F.Supp. 741, 748 n.4 (D.Md. 1997) (stating that
the plaintiff “is bound by the allegations contained in its
complaint and cannot, through the use of motion briefs, amend
dismiss their Title II claim.”
Barton, 1995 WL 860632, at *2
(holding that a plaintiff who proved she had complied with §
requirements because it was not attached to her complaint).
Even if Plaintiff were able to amend his complaint to cure
the jurisdictional defects, however, he has failed to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted.
to a “place” of public accommodation.
Title II only applies
See 42 U.S.C. 2000a.
entity only qualifies as a “place” of public accommodation under
the statute if it fits into certain enumerated categories.
42 U.S.C. 2000a(b).
Plaintiff attempts to apply Title II to
Schutzhund under the provision for “any motion picture house,
theater, concert hall, sports arena, stadium or other place of
exhibition or entertainment.”
(ECF No. 1 ¶ 9; see 42 U.S.C. §
accommodation because “they hold events that are open to the
public and for the entertainment of the public.”
(ECF No. 1 ¶
Courts have emphasized that typically “‘places of public
Noah v. AOL Time Warner, Inc., 261 F.Supp.2d 532,
541 (E.D.Va. 2003), aff’d No. 03-1770, 2004 WL 602711, at *1 (4th
In claims against membership organizations like
Schutzhund, courts have focused on whether the organization was
“closely connected to a particular facility.”
Welsh v. Boys
Scouts of America, 993 F.2d 1267, 1269 (7th Cir. 1993); see also
Staley v. Nat’l Capital Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, No.
RWT-10-2768, 2011 WL 2416724, at *9-10 (D.Md. June 9, 2011)
(applying Welsh to the public accommodations provisions of the
accommodation “to the extent that it operates or leases a place
of public accommodation”).
Therefore, Title II only applies to
organizations “when entry into a facility open to the public is
Clegg v. Cult Awareness Network, 18 F.3d 752, 755
(9th Cir. 1994) (citing Sullivan v. Little Hunting Park, Inc.,
396 U.S. 229 (1969)).
Plaintiff has not alleged that Schutzhund
Plaintiff’s response in opposition include any reference to any
Accordingly, his pleading fails to state a
claim under Title II upon which relief could be granted.
In this instance, there is no reason to permit leave to
Not only has Plaintiff failed to suggest that Defendants
maintained any physical place themselves, but he also refers to
Therefore, leave to amend will be denied.
For the foregoing reasons, the motion to dismiss filed by
Defendants will be granted.
A separate order will follow.
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW
United States District Judge
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