Reeve v. Murabito et al
DECISION AND ORDER dismissing Pltf's 15 Amended Complaint for failure to comply with FRCP 8 and Pltf is granted leave to file a second amended complaint by 12/18/2013. Signed by Senior Judge Thomas J. McAvoy on 11/15/13. [Served by mail.](sfp, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
-------------------------------MICHAEL P. REEVE,
DR. WILLIAM MURABITO, et al.,
-------------------------------THOMAS J. McAVOY
Senior United States District Judge
DECISION and ORDER
Plaintiff Michael Reeve commenced the instant action pursuant to the Americans
with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12112 et seq., alleging that Defendants failed to engage in
the interactive process with him to identify a reasonable accommodation to his disability and
failed to reasonably accommodate his disability. Presently before the Court is Defendants’
motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12. Because Plaintiff has since filed an
Amended Complaint, the Court will apply Defendants’ motion to the allegations in the
The sequence of events are somewhat confusing based on the Amended
Complaint’s allegations. Some of the assertions appear to be contradictory. The Court will
endeavor to make sense of the allegations in the Amended Complaint.
The Amended Complaint alleges that Plaintiff is an employee at Morrisville State
College. As a result of a fall at work in March 2008, Plaintiff sustained an injury. Plaintiff
went out on medical leave and underwent a spinal fusion in 2010. Plaintiff returned to work
in the fall of 2011. Plaintiff’s doctors advised that he should reduce his walking and standing.
Plaintiff is unable “to walk over 100 feet without severe pain.”
In December 2011, Plaintiff had a casual meeting with Dean Christian Cring
wherein Plaintiff advised that he wanted to return the keys to the office of “Dr. (N),” who had
been laid off. Am. Compl. Ex. 1 at 1-2. Having learned that Dr. N’s office would be empty,
that evening, Plaintiff begun to think about his “needs.” Id. at 2. Sometime thereafter,
Plaintiff claims that he requested an accommodation of a “centrally [located] office,” but that
“no discussion was forthcoming.” Id. According to Plaintiff, his current office is “in the
basement with no rest room facilities or accessible elevator which results in a 600 foot and 2
trips up and down stairs for one trip to the rest room facilities and an even greater distance to
his] upstairs lecture rooms or laboratories.” Despite claiming that “no discussion was
forthcoming,” the Amended Complaint states that on December 12, 2011, he was “offered
two rooms which would accommodate [his] disability.” Am. Compl. at 3. Plaintiff rejected
these rooms because one of the rooms created more walking from his lab and “[b]oth rooms
lacked windows and outside light” and Plaintiff is “mildly claustrophobic and require[s] the
vision of outside light.” Id. Plaintiff further claims that these rooms were located behind
college lecture rooms, were noisy, and lacked privacy. Id. According to Plaintiff, he was
“insulted by [the] offers and ended the meeting.” Id.
In a meeting held on December 19, 2011, Dean Cring “could not understand the
reasons [Plaintiff] gave her about her offers being unacceptable and therefore did not
discuss or offer to look for other options.” Id. at 4. Thereafter, Plaintiff had a meeting on
January 5, 2012 with Provost Rogers at which time Plaintiff offered certain “options and
opinions.” Id. By e-mail dated January 13, 2012, Plaintiff was offered a third choice that
included sharing an office with “Dr. (M).” Id. at 5. Plaintiff apparently did not accept these
offers. Further meetings were held.
In March or August 2012, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the New York State
Division of Human Rights. Id. at 2.
In June 2013, Plaintiff was offered two other options, one of which Plaintiff
accepted. Id. at 7. An additional option was offered to Plaintiff in August 2013. Apparently,
the matter remains unresolved.
Plaintiff commenced the instant action claiming that Defendants violated his rights
under the ADA by failing to reasonably accommodate his disabilities and failing to engage in
the interactive process with him.
Presently before the Court is Defendants’ motion to dismiss the Complaint pursuant
to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
“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, 129 S. Ct. 1937 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). “A claim has facial
plausibility 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. This
standard requires that the complaint allege “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant
has acted unlawfully” and more than “facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's
liability.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). Applying this standard is “a context-specific
task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.”
Id. at 679.
To the extent Plaintiff brings claims against the individual defendants, they must be
dismissed because the ADA does not provide for individual liability. Spiegel v. Schulmann,
604 F.3d 72, 79 (2d Cir. 2010).
Failure to Accommodate
Plaintiff’s claim is that Defendants failed to engage in the interactive process and
provide him a centrally located office to accommodate his walking limitations. Although the
ADA envisions an interactive process between employers and employees to assess whether
an employee’s disability can reasonably be accommodated, the failure to engage in the
interactive process, standing alone, is insufficient to establish a claim under the ADA.
McBride v. BIC Consumer Products Mfg. Co., Inc., 583 F.3d 92, 99-100 (2d Cir. 2009).
Rather, the statute makes it unlawful to fail to make reasonable accommodations to the
known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability. 42
U.S.C. § 12112(b)(5). Thus, “failure to engage in the interactive process is relevant if it leads
to a failure to provide an accommodation.” Ragusa v. United Parcel Serv., 05 CIV.
6187(WHP), 2009 WL 637100 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 3, 2009).
Here, the allegations in the Amended Complaint demonstrate that Defendants did
respond to Plaintiff’s request for accommodation and discussed options with him. The
allegations further demonstrate that Defendants offered several options to Plaintiff aimed at
accommodating his disability. Because of the confusing nature of the Complaint, the Court is
unable to ascertain when Plaintiff first requested accommodation and, thus, whether
Defendants acts reasonably in their responses. The Amended Complaint alleges that
Defendants offered options to Plaintiff in December 2011. At one point in the Amended
Complaint, Plaintiff appears to claim that he requested accommodation in August 2011, see
Am. Compl. at Ex. 1, p. 3, which would have been meant that Defendants delayed several
months in responding to Plaintiff, whereas in another section, it appears that Plaintiff did not
first request accommodation until December 2011, in which case Defendants responded
promptly. Id. at p. 1. Because the Court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
non-movant and must provide special solicitude to pleadings by pro se litigants, this
confusion precludes the Court from granting Defendant’s motion on this ground at this time.
It is possible that Defendant’s delay in responding to Plaintiff and providing a reasonable
accommodation renders them liable under the ADA.
That being said, it should be noted that, “[a]lthough a public entity must make
‘reasonable accommodations,’ it does not have to provide a disabled individual with every
accommodation he requests or the accommodation of his choice. McElwee v. Cnty. of
Orange, 700 F.3d 635, 641 (2d Cir. 2012) (quoting Fink v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Personnel, 53 F.3d
565, 567 (2d Cir. 1995)); Lovejoy-Wilson v. Noco Motor Fuels, Inc., 242 F. Supp.2d 236,
243-44 (W.D.N.Y. 2003) (and cases cited therein). Here, the Amended Complaint alleges
that Defendants provided numerous options aimed at accommodating Plaintiff’s disability. In
fact, the allegations in the Amended Complaint demonstrate that two offices were offered
shortly after Plaintiff broached the issue of needing a new office to accommodate his
disability. Although one of the rooms offered is alleged to have increased the distance
Plaintiff would have had to walk, nothing in the Amended Complaint suggests that the other
option offered in December 2011 or the options offered thereafter did not reasonably
accommodate Plaintiff’s walking limitations. That fact that Plaintiff preferred an office with
windows, better ventilation, and better privacy does not, in and of itself, make Defendants’
efforts to accommodate Plaintiff’s disability unreasonable.
Lastly, the Court notes that Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint fails to comply with Fed.
R. Civ. P. 8, which requires a short and plain statement of the claim. That Rule requires
“[e]ach allegation to be simple, concise, and direct.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(d)(1). Dismissal of a
complaint for violating Rule 8 is warranted where “the complaint is so confused, ambiguous,
vague, or otherwise unintelligible that its true substance, if any, is well disguised.”
Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d Cir. 1988). Although no specific form is required,
Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint is disjointed, a lengthy narrative, and internally inconsistent
and, therefore, does not meet the Rule’s requirements. For this reason, the Court dismisses
the Complaint and affords Plaintiff an opportunity to file a second amended complaint within
thirty days of the date of this Order.
If Plaintiff desires to file a second amended complaint, he is advised to use simple,
concise, and direct paragraphs clearly setting forth the events he claims resulted in the
violation of his rights under the ADA. Long paragraphs are strongly discouraged. THE
FAILURE TO FILE A SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT WITHIN THIRTY DAYS SHALL
RESULT IN THE FINAL DISMISSAL OF THIS MATTER WITHOUT FURTHER ACTION OF
For the foregoing reasons, the Amended Complaint is DISMISSED for failure to
comply with Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 and Plaintiff is granted leave to file a second amended
complaint within thirty days of the date of this Order.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: November 15, 2013
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