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Raiford v. Maryland Dept. of Juvenile Services

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 28, 2014

GREGORY RAIFORD
v.
MARYLAND DEPT. OF JUVENILE SERVICES.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, District Judge.

Presently pending and ready for resolution in this disability discrimination case are a motion filed by Defendant Maryland Department of Juvenile Services ("Defendant") to dismiss the amended complaint (ECF No. 22), and a motion filed by Plaintiff Gregory Raiford for leave to file a second amended complaint (ECF No. 28). The issues have been briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff will be permitted to file a second amended complaint, albeit without some of the proposed claims. Defendant's motion to dismiss the first amended complaint will be denied as moot.

I. Background

A. Factual Background

Plaintiff Gregory Raiford commenced this action against the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff was pro se at the time he filed the original complaint, but has since retained counsel. (ECF No. 11). After retaining counsel, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint. (ECF No. 19). The following allegations are contained in the amended complaint.

Plaintiff was employed by the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services at the Cheltenham Youth Facility as a Resident Advisor. ( Id. ¶ 3). On June 21, 2010, Plaintiff suffered injury to his left knee as a result of breaking up two juveniles who were engaged in a fight at the facility. ( Id. ¶ 4). He underwent surgery for this injury on December 10, 2010. ( Id. ¶ 5). Plaintiff believes he was injured because there were "unsafe conditions at the facility and [an] unsafe number of juveniles for each resident advisor." ( Id. ¶ 6). After his injury and until his surgery, Mr. Raiford was placed on modified duty, under which he had no contact with juveniles in the gate house and the special duty post, both of which were outside the facility. ( Id. ¶ 7).

Plaintiff underwent surgery for his knee injury on December 10, 2010. ( Id. ¶ 5). On March 9, 2011, Plaintiff returned to work and requested that he be allowed to work in a modified capacity again; Defendant denied this request. ( Id. ¶ 8). The next day, Plaintiff was told to report to Ms. White and Ms. Pinkney, Group Life Directors at the facility. According to Plaintiff, Ms. White and Ms. Pinkney told him that he was required to work full duty assignments at all locations in the facility. ( Id. ¶ 10). Plaintiff asserts that "the facility permanently and regularly assigned four full duty Resident Advisors to the gate house and special duty post (modified duty) on a daily basis." ( Id. ).

Plaintiff again injured his knee the next month, on April 3, 2011, as a result of separating two individuals engaged in a fight. ( Id. ¶ 11). When Plaintiff returned to work after this second knee injury, "his knee was not at its full strength and Plaintiff feared that he would reinjure it again if he was required to work full duty and to separate fighting juvenile residents." ( Id. ¶ 13). According to Plaintiff, modified duty positions at the gate house and the special duty post outside the facility remained available, but Defendant refused to accommodate Plaintiff's request that he be assigned to those positions. ( Id. ¶ 14).[1]

Plaintiff states that he again "separated juvenile residents who were involved in another fight, aggravated the injury to his leg, and then sought medical attention once again." ( Id. ¶ 17). Plaintiff avers that on April 15, 2011, he was examined by Dr. Weeks "who requested that he have an Independent Medical Evaluation and provided written instructions to the Defendant and the facility to assign Plaintiff to work at a modified duty capacity." ( Id. ¶ 18). The next day, Mr. Wilson, the facility superintendent, allegedly told Plaintiff that he would not be allowed to work in a modified duty capacity and would be referred to a different doctor. Plaintiff was asked to leave the facility after this meeting on April 16, 2011 and was placed on sick leave. ( Id. ¶¶ 19-20). Plaintiff asserts that he repeatedly asked Ms. White, Ms. Pickney, and the Human Resources Department to be placed on modified duty in May 2011, but these requests were again denied.

Plaintiff was then ordered to see Dr. Robert Toney, Maryland Medical Director, on May 23, 2011. ( Id. ¶ 23). Plaintiff asserts that Dr. Toney evaluated him for only fifteen minutes. After this evaluation with Plaintiff, Dr. Toney wrote a letter to Defendant on May 25, 2011, stating that Plaintiff was unable to perform his duties as a Resident Advisor. ( Id. ¶ 24). Plaintiff contends that consequently, he was told to resign or be fired from his position.[2]

Mr. Raiford received a "Letter of Requirements, " dated May 31, 2011. ( Id. ¶ 26). Ms. White, the Director of Group Life at the Department of Juvenile Services, told him that he could either quit or be fired. Plaintiff believed that if he resigned, he was eligible to reapply with the state at a later date, albeit for a different position. Mr. Raiford states that he did not want to end his employment, but was "forced out after Defendant refused to modify his duty in order to accommodate the requirements of the injury he received while performing the duties of his employment for Defendant." ( Id. ¶ 27). Plaintiff asserts that Defendant violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to place him on modified duty, which his medical provider urged was required due to his two knee injuries.

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on April 10, 2012, alleging disability discrimination. (ECF No. 22-3). He received a Right to Sue letter on September 26, 2012. (ECF No. 1-2). On December 26, 2012, Plaintiff filed his initial complaint in this court, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act against the Department of Juvenile Services and seeking monetary relief. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff did not properly serve Defendant, prompting multiple orders from the undersigned instructing Plaintiff as to proper service. (ECF No. 5, 6, 8, 10). As stated above, Plaintiff later retained counsel, who moved to correct the summons (ECF No. 12), which was granted (ECF No. 13).

Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint on August 29, 2013. (ECF No. 18). On the same date, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint (ECF No. 19), mooting the motion to dismiss. The amended complaint included several additional allegations, but asserted the same claim under the ADA and sought $150, 000 in damages from the Department of Juvenile Services. Defendant then again moved to dismiss the amended complaint on September 12, 2013 (ECF No. 22). Plaintiff opposed the motion (ECF No. 25), and Defendant replied (ECF No. 30). Then, Plaintiff moved for leave to amend the complaint, (ECF No. 28), and Defendant opposed the motion (ECF No. 34).[3] In the proposed second amended complaint, Plaintiff seeks to add as a new defendant Sam J. Abed, the Secretary of Juvenile Services, in his official and individual capacity. (ECF No. 28-2 ¶ ...


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