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Acosta v. Ingerman & Horwitz, L.L.C.

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Northern Division

February 24, 2015

MARK ACOSTA, Plaintiff,
INGERMAN & HORWITZ, L.L.C., et al., Defendants.


WILLIAM D. QUARLES, Jr., District Judge.

Mark Acosta sued Ingerman & Horwitz, L.L.C. and Ingerman & Horwitz, L.L.P.[1] ("the Defendants") for discrimination[2] under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964[3] and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA").[4] Pending are the Defendants' motion to dismiss the original complaint, and the Plaintiff's motion to amend the complaint. No hearing is necessary. Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011). For the following reasons, the motion to amend will be granted; the motion to dismiss will be denied as moot.

I. Background[5]

On April 8, 2002, the Plaintiff was hired as a settlement negotiator by the Defendants. ECF No. 13-2 (hereinafter "Am. Compl.") at ¶ 13. The Defendants had between 14 and 101 employees. Id. at ¶ 7. The Plaintiff "performed his duties adequately and met or exceeded [the Defendants'] expectation[s] throughout his employment." Id. at ¶ 13.

On April 8, 2010, the Plaintiff injured his left leg, both, hands, shoulder and neck. Id. at ¶ 14. Because of these injuries, the Plaintiff "sustained long lasting and severe injuries to his hands, neck, left foot and leg, shoulder, veins, shock to his nerves and nervous system, thus incurring great hospital and medical expenses and lost wages and was otherwise damaged and injured." Id. at ¶ 18. The Plaintiff "was completely unable to bear weight on his left foot and leg for approximately three months following the incident." Id.

On April 19, 2010, the Plaintiff underwent foot reconstruction surgery. Am. Compl. at ¶ 14. As a result of the surgery, the Plaintiff was confined to a wheelchair and required "to keep his foot elevated in front of him while in the wheelchair." Id. at ¶¶ 14-15. The Plaintiff's "injuries as well as the foot reconstruction surgery... have left him with impairments in his left foot and ankle, including reduced range of motion and ongoing pain." Id. at ¶ 18.

For about one week after his surgery, the Plaintiff attempted to work at the office. Am. Compl. at ¶ 15. However, "the narrow paths... made the office impossible for [the Plaintiff] to navigate given his wheelchair...." Id. The Plaintiff went to his supervisor and requested that he be permitted to work from home. Id. at ¶ 16. "The nature of his job as a settlement negotiator was such that as long as he had a computer and a telephone (both of which he had at his home), his job could be performed remotely with no loss to the Defendant[s]." Id. The Plaintiff's supervisor denied the request. Id. "Other similarly situated female employees were not treated in the same manner as [the Plaintiff] and in fact had their accommodation requests met by the Defendant[s]."[6] Id. at ¶ 17. On June 16, 2010, the firm administrator, Eric L. Hightower, informed the Plaintiff that he was being discharged for "economic reasons." Id. at ¶ 17.

The Plaintiff filed suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleging discrimination based on disability and sex. Id. at ¶ 19. On February 27, 2014, the Plaintiff received the right to sue letter. Id. On May 16, 2014, the Plaintiff sued the Defendants alleging discrimination under the ADA and Title VII. ECF No. 1.

On August 4, 2014, the Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. ECF No. 9. On August 7, 2014, the Plaintiff opposed the motion and moved to amend the complaint. ECF Nos. 12, 13. On August 25, 2014, the Defendants replied to the Plaintiff's opposition and opposed the motion to amend. ECF Nos. 14, 15.

II. Analysis

A. Legal Standards

1. Amending a Complaint

Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(1) allows a party to "amend its pleading once as a matter of course" within "21 days after serving it" or, "if the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is required, 21 days after service of a responsive pleading or 21 days after service of a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier." All other amendments may be made "only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave." Rule 15(a)(2).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) instructs that leave to amend should be freely given when justice requires. Leave should be denied only when amendment would unduly prejudice the opposing party, amount to futility, or reward the movant's bad faith. Steinburg v. Chesterfield Cnty. Planning Comm'n, 527 F.3d 377, 390 (4th Cir. ...

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