King v. Mitchell et al

Filing 27

MEMORANDUM OPINION (c/m to Plaintiff 8/30/17 sat). Signed by Judge Deborah K. Chasanow on 8/30/2017. (sat, Chambers)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND : ROBERT JOSEPH KING : v. : Civil Action No. DKC 16-3804 : DENNIS SCHRADER,1 et al. : MEMORANDUM OPINION Presently pending and ready for resolution are a motion to substitute parties filed by Plaintiff Robert King (“Plaintiff”) (ECF No. 7), and a motion to dismiss filed by Defendants Dennis Schrader, John Robison, Thomas Lewis, Inna Taller, Aram Faramarz Mokhtari Aria, Wayne Noble, and Chandra Wiggins (“Defendants”). (ECF No. 8). The issues have been briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. For the following reasons, the motion Local Rule 105.6. to dismiss will be granted, and the motion to substitute parties will be denied as moot. 1 On July 1, 2017, Dennis Schrader became the Acting Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and is substituted as the proper defendant pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.25(d). I. Background Factual Background2 A. Plaintiff Center is a (“Perkins”), Maryland Department patient a of at Clifton psychiatric Health. T. hospital (ECF No. Perkins operated 1 Parties, Hospital by the ¶ 2).3 Perkins operates a work adjustment program (“WAP”) which places patients at jobs and pays them the current minimum wage of $8.75 per hour. (Statement of Facts, ¶ 2). On March 18, 2016, Plaintiff filed a grievance with Perkins stating that he “had waited for seven or eight months” without receiving a job from WAP and alleging that he “was, for some reason, being discriminated against.” 3). On March 29, Defendant Noble, (Statement of Facts, ¶ a member of Plaintiff’s treatment team, responded to the grievance and explained that Plaintiff had not received a job placement because Plaintiff was 2 Unless otherwise noted, the facts outlined here are set forth in the complaint and construed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. Although the complaint refers to purportedly attached exhibits, the document originally submitted by Plaintiff to the court did not contain any attached exhibits. Because Defendants referred to those exhibits in their papers, the court assumed that the copy of the complaint served on them did contain the exhibits, and so counsel were directed to provide copies to the court. Defendants did so in ECF No. 23. Plaintiff takes issue with some of those attachments and provided the court with the versions he contends are correct. (ECF No. 25.) 3 The complaint begins numbering the paragraphs in each section with number 1. Thus, the name of the section as well as the number of the paragraph will be provided. 2 struggling to control his behavior and his treatment team did not believe (Statement placing of Facts, him in ¶ a job 5). At would that help time, his Noble recovery. said the treatment team determined the best course of action would be to wait for Plaintiff to show a better ability to “manage his anger and frustration” before placing him in a job. (Id.). On April 5, Defendant Wiggins, an employee of WAP, told Plaintiff he had been placed in a job with the horticulture program. (Statement of Facts, ¶ 6). The two discussed Plaintiff’s schedule and when he would be available to work. Wiggins informed Plaintiff that he would also need to speak with Carol Adams, the program supervisor. (Id.). The next day Ms. Adams and Plaintiff met, and Ms. Adams informed Plaintiff that he would need a doctor’s note to participate in the program due to his urinary incontinence. (Statement of Facts, ¶ 7). On April 7, Plaintiff met with his treatment team, and they informed him that he would be limited to five hours of work per week and that if his disabilities interfered with the job, then he would not be allowed to work. (Statement of Facts, ¶ 10). On April 12, however, Wiggins told Plaintiff that he would “not be working in Horticulture.” explained that the (Statement of Facts, ¶ 16). treatment team did not believe She the horticulture program was an appropriate placement for Plaintiff. 3 (Id.). Wiggins offered Plaintiff a job in Perkins’ canteen. (ECF No. 25-7).4 B. In Procedural History mid-April 2016, Plaintiff filed a grievance alleging that he was being denied an opportunity to work because of his disability. (ECF grievance. No. 25-8, 2-3).5 at Perkins Facts, ¶ 21). November Defendants, a of Hygiene, in alleged they (Statement of On August 31, the EEOC dismissed his complaint and issued a right to sue notice. Secretary the On August 7, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). On denied 21, variety the their Plaintiff of Maryland his brought Perkins’ and rights this officials Department individual violated (Statement of Facts, ¶ 22). of and Health official under action against the and then- capacities. Mental the Americans He with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., because: (1) they terminated his job in the horticulture program due to his urinary incontinence; (2) they refused to offer a reasonable 4 Ms. Wiggins states that Plaintiff accepted the canteen position. Plaintiff’s complaint is unclear about whether he accepted the canteen position. The complaint does note that there would be a similar lack of restroom access there. (ECF No. 1, Statement of Facts, ¶ 25). In a later filing, Plaintiff asserts that he worked in the canteen for one day. (ECF No. 101, at 5). 5 The grievance also alleged retaliation for filing a previous grievance. (ECF No. 25-8, at 2-3). Plaintiff did not allege retaliation before this court. 4 accommodation (access to restroom facilities) that would allow him to work in the horticulture program; and (3) they refused to hire him to work elsewhere in Perkins (other than horticulture or the canteen) because of his disability. Questions, ¶¶ 1-3). (ECF No. 1, Federal Plaintiff sought compensatory and punitive damages, declaratory and injunctive relief, and his release from Perkins. (Id.). On January 9, Plaintiff moved to substitute Dennis Schrader, the then-Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Human Hygiene, for Van T. Mitchell, the former Secretary Hygiene. On of the Maryland Department of January 31, 2017, Defendants (ECF No. 8). moved Human Defendants replied. to dismiss for Plaintiff submitted his response in opposition and three supplements. II. and (ECF No. 7). failure to state a claim. 14; 16). Health (ECF Nos. 10; 13; (ECF No. 12.) Standard of Review The purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the sufficiency of the complaint. Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006). A complaint need only satisfy the standard of Rule 8(a)(2), which requires a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” “Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a ‘showing,’ rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 n.3 5 (2007). That showing must consist of more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” or assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citations omitted). stage, all considered well-pleaded as true, allegations Albright v. in a Oliver, complaint 510 U.S. “naked At this must 266, be 268 (1994), and all factual allegations must be construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Harrison v. 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)). In evaluating the complaint, unsupported legal allegations not need be accepted. Revene Comm’rs, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989). v. Charles Cty. Legal conclusions couched as factual allegations are insufficient, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, as are conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to actual events, United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844, (4th 847 Cir. 1979); see also Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 2009). Pro se pleadings are liberally construed and held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers. 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). pleadings Liberal construction means that the court will read the to state a valid claim 6 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 Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1132 (10th never presented. Cir. 1999). 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 marks omitted)). III. Analysis A. Motion to Substitute Parties Plaintiff moved to substitute Dennis Schrader for Van T. Mitchell because, at time, and “Department Mental of Hygiene Health and the to name the Mental of Health the – Mental Department Department Hygiene and the Since the motion to substitute parties was filed, the changed of was Hygiene. legislature Department Schrader for Health Maryland Dennis Secretary Maryland the that of of Health, Renaming,” 2017 Maryland Laws Ch. 214 (S.B. 82), and Dennis Schrader’s position has changed Schrader, from Secretary Maryland to Acting Department Secretary. of Dennis Health, 7 R. (last visited Aug. 25, 2017). As such, Plaintiff’s motion to substitute parties is denied as moot. Fed.R.Civ.P. 25(d), capacity Acting as Dennis Nevertheless, pursuant to Schrader Secretary of is the substituted Maryland in his Department of Health. B. Motion to Dismiss 1. Individual Capacity Claims Plaintiff brings ADA claims against Defendants individual capacities. (ECF No. 1, at 3). dismissed because “the ADA does not in their These claims will be authorize individuals for violating its provisions.” suit against Altevorgt v. Kirwan, No. WDQ–11–1061, 2012 WL 135283, at *5 (D.Md. Jan. 13, 2012); Jones v. Sternheimer, 387 F.App'x 366, (4th 368 Cir. 2010) (“Title VII, the ADA, and the ADEA . . . do not provide for causes of action against defendants in their individual capacities.”); Baird ex rel. Baird v. Rose, 192 F.3d 462, 471-72 (4th Cir. 1999). 2. Official Capacity Claims - Damages Plaintiff’s complaint seeks compensatory and punitive damages against Defendants in their official capacities. No. 1, at 4). (ECF Official capacity claims are properly construed as “a suit against the official’s office” and as such are “no different from a suit against the State itself.” Will v. Mich. Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). For a suit to 8 proceed against a state, either the state must have consented to being sued or Congress must have validly abrogated the states’ Eleventh Amendment immunity. Port Auth. Trans-Hudson Corp. v. Feeney, 495 U.S. 299, 304 (1990). Maryland did not consent to suits Md. under the ADA. McCray v. Dep’t of Transp., Md. Transit Admin., 741 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2014). In enacting the ADA, Congress validly abrogated states’ immunity for claims brought under Title II of the ADA but not for claims brought under Title I. Tennessee v. Lane, 541 U.S. 509, 533-34 (2004); Bd. of Trs. of Univ. of Al. v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356, 360 (2001). Title I of the ADA prohibits employment discrimination whereas Title II prohibits discrimination in the provision of public services. 42 U.S.C. §§ 12112, 12132. Plaintiff does not identify explicitly the Title of the ADA he claims was violated, but he and Defendants refer exclusively to employment issues. If the claim is employment based, Plaintiff cannot rely on Title II. See Reyazuddin v. Montgomery Cty., 789 F.3d 407, 420-21 (4th Cir. 2015). Although there is a dearth of precedent addressing whether a patient committed to a state mental hospital performing work in or through the hospital is an employee for the purposes of the ADA, many courts have examined whether prisoners performing work in or through the prison are employees for the purposes of 9 related employment rights statutes.6 Courts have stated generally that prisoners working directly for a prison pursuant to a state law requiring them to work are not employees protected under employment rights statutes, but may be entitled to employee protections when work is optional and done for See Moyo v. Gomez, 32 F.3d 1382, 1385 (9th economic reasons. Cir. 1994), amended, 40 F.3d 982 (9th Cir. 1994) (“[I]nmates performing training, work or assignments that resemble that work include release compensation rather than or forced labor, are employees entitled to Title VII protection.”); Watson v. Graves, 909 F.2d 1549, 1554-56 (5th Cir. 1990) (concluding that inmates who worked for the sheriff in an unauthorized work release program and not as part of their sentence were employees for the purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”)). In these situations, there is a “‘bargained-for exchange of labor’ for mutual economic gain that occurs in a true employer-employee relationship.” Harker v. State Use Industries, 990 F.2d 131, 133 (4th Cir. 1993). On the other hand, when work is part of a punishment or done for rehabilitative purposes, a prisoner does not establish an employer-employee relationship. 6 See Castle v. Eurofresh, Statutory definitions are sufficiently similar under the ADA, Title VII, and the ADEA that courts can rely on cases arising under any. Reynolds v. Am. Nat’l Red Cross, 701 F.3d th 143, 155 (4 Cir. 2012). 10 Inc., 731 F.3d 901, 907 (9th Cir. 2013) (holding that a prison inmate was not an employee for the purposes of Title I of the ADA because the inmate was obligated to work as a condition of his confinement); Harker, 990 F.2d at 133 (holding a prison inmate working in a prison shop was not an employee under FLSA because the work was performed “as a means for rehabilitation and job training.”); Williams v. Mease, 926 F.2d 994, 997 (10th Cir. 1991) (concluding a prisoner did not have rights as an employee under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) or Title VII because his relationship with the prison “[arose] out of his status as an inmate, not an employee.”). Indeed, in situations where a prison work program serves rehabilitative and educational participate violation. purposes, because of refusing a to allow disability a could prisoner to be a II Title Pa. Dep’t of Corr. v. Yeskey, 524 U.S. 206 (1998). Similarly, a patient working in a mental hospital is an employee when the patient can choose performs the work for economic gain. State Indus., 952 F. Supp. 652, whether to work and See McCaslin v. Cornhusker 655-57 (D. Neb. 1996) (collecting cases concerning whether prisoners were entitled to employee protections). allegations in the In this complaint, case, according participation in WAP mandatory, and not all patients are able to participate. who do participate receive minimum wage. 11 to the is not Those The complaint contains no allegations opportunities. that WAP provided educational or vocational Although not alleged in the complaint, Plaintiff asserts that the State of Maryland considers WAP participants “contractual employees.” does not provide (ECF No. 10-1, at 5). educational or rehabilitative Because WAP services and instead provides an opportunity to work for patients who choose to do so, a patient performing work through WAP is an employee for purposes of Title I. See Baker v. McNeil Island Corr. Ctr., 859 F.2d 124, 128 (9th Cir. 1988) (finding an inmate could be an employee if the job was optional and not required as part of his sentence). Plaintiff’s complaint thus raises a claim of disability discrimination in violation of Title I of the ADA. See § 12112(b)(5)(B). Because Congress did not abrogate the states’ Eleventh Amendment immunities for suits under Title I, Plaintiff cannot recover damages, either compensatory or punitive, and his claim for monetary relief must be dismissed. See Bd. of Trs. of Univ. of Al., 531 U.S. at 360. 3. Declaratory Relief Plaintiff requests a “declaratory judgment” but does not specify what the judgment should say. complaint Twombly, “requires 550 U.S. more at than 555. (ECF No. 1, at 24). labels The and conclusions[.]” complaint “sufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory.” 12 A must contain Jarallah v. Thompson, 123 F.Supp.3d 719, 729 (D.Md. 2015). Courts are not “required to construct a party’s legal argument for him.” v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411, 417-18 (7th Cir. 1993). Small In this case, the complaint would require judicial reconstruction plausibly to state a claim for declaratory relief, and, therefore, it must be dismissed.7 4. Injunctive Relief While a suit for damages is foreclosed, a private person may still seek injunctive relief Garrett, 531 U.S. at 374, n. 9. under Title I of the ADA. Even if Plaintiff has stated an ADA claim,8 he has not stated a sufficient claim for injunctive relief. Plaintiff’s complaint broadly requests “[i]njunctive relief” but does not specify the type of injunction sought (ECF No. 1, at 24). (He also separately seeks release from Perkins, which will be discussed in the next section.) In construing pro se complaints, “[d]istrict judges are not mind readers. Even in the case construct of pro full se litigants, blown claims they from cannot be sentence expected to fragments[.]” 7 Even if the complaint were read to request a declaration related to the alleged ADA violations, sovereign immunity prevents a declaration that state officials “violated federal law in the past[.]” Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Auth. v. Metcalf & Eddy, Inc., 506 U.S. 139, 146 (1993); see Green v. Mansour, 474 U.S. 64, 73 (1985). Thus, Plaintiff’s request for declaratory relief would still be dismissed. 8 Defendants argue that Plaintiff has not and cannot state a viable claim under the ADA. The court need not address those arguments at this time. 13 Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985). Plaintiff has not specified the injunction he seeks or the behavior he wants enjoined, or why any such relief would be available under the ADA. complaint relief. does not Without this information, Plaintiff’s state a cognizable claim for injunctive It is not at all clear that, absent the availability of money damages or unconditional release, Plaintiff would seek to pursue an ADA claim. Out of an abundance of caution, Plaintiff will be given a brief period to amend the complaint, if he wishes to pursue the limited type of injunctive relief that may be sought. 5. Unconditional Release Plaintiff requests his unconditional release from Perkins. Plaintiff’s complaint contains no facts explaining why his release from Perkins is necessary or how it relates to his ADA claims. Plaintiff In his response suggests his to Defendants’ relief could be motion a to judicial dismiss, remedy pursuant to Section 3-119 of the Maryland Criminal Procedure Article (ECF No. 10-1, at 13), but Section 3-119 only governs the method of applying for a release. The standard for release is that a person would not be a “danger . . . to self or to the person or property of others if discharged.” Crim. Pro. § 3-114. Md.Code Ann., His pleading contains no facts that relate 14 to this standard, and, therefore, his request for an unconditional release is dismissed. 6. Attorney’s Fees The ADA allows a prevailing party to receive reasonable fees. 42 U.S.C. § 12205. Plaintiff is not a prevailing party and is therefore not entitled to Attorney’s fees. See § 12205; Farrar v. Hobby, 506 U.S. 103, 111 (1992). IV. Conclusion For the foregoing reasons, the motion to substitute parties filed by Plaintiff will be denied, (ECF No. 7), and the motion to dismiss filed by Defendants will be granted. A separate order will follow. /s/ DEBORAH K. CHASANOW United States District Judge 15

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