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Jeffries v. Wal-mart Stores East, LP

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 11, 2016

MONICA JEFFRIES, Plaintiff,
v.
WAL-MART STORES EAST, LP, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GEORGE J. HAZEL United States District Judge

         Presently pending before the Court is a motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint filed by Plaintiff Monica Jeffries against her former employer, Defendant Wal-Mart Stores East. LP ("Wal-Mart").[1] ECF No. 23. Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, brings claims of failure-to-accommodate, retaliation, and wrongful discharge against her former employer. Wal-Mart, for purported violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12112 et seq. The Court has reviewed the record and deems a hearing unnecessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated herein, Wal-Mart's motion to dismiss is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         According to the Amended Complaint. Wal-Mart terminated Plaintiff from her employment in 2013. during which time she was suffering from Stage III breast cancer, the side effects of chemotherapy treatment, and a work-related blunt-force injury to the forefront of her leg.[2] ECF No. 22 at 2.[3] Plaintiff alleges that Wal-Mart was aware of Plaintiff s breast cancer prior to hiring her and during her tenure as an employee. Id. at 13. Plaintiff took a medical leave of absence from January 2013 to August 2013 related to her breast cancer, chemotherapy side effects, treatment for the leg injury, depression, and pneumonia. Id. at 4. Plaintiff alleges that she contacted Wal-Mart at "all relevant times" to inform the company of her health status from the time of her leave until her termination. Id. at 4. She claims that Wal-Mart refused to enter into the "required interactive process" to accommodate her disability, and wrongfully discharged her "for absolutely no reason, except in retaliation because, plaintiff tiled a grievance against the defendants" for worker's compensation and unemployment benefits. Id. at 3-4.

         Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), alleging disability discrimination and retaliation.[4] ECF No. 1-4. She received a right to sue notice from the EEOC on January 29, 2015. which instructed her that she had ninety days to file a lawsuit in federal court. ECF No. 1-5. Plaintiff filed her initial Complaint in this Court on February 18. 2015. and Wal-Mart moved to dismiss the Complaint on May 27, 2015. ECF Nos. 1 & 8. On June 16. 2015. Plaintiff filed a "Memorandum of Law in Support of her Motion to Dismiss Defendants Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs Complaint." which the Court construed as a response in opposition to Wal-Mart"s Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 10. Wal-Mart filed its reply on June 26, 2015. ECF No. 15. Plaintiff then filed a Motion for Leave to File a Surreply. ECF No. 17. which Wal-Mart opposed. ECF No. 18. On February 3, 2016. the Court denied Plaintiffs Motion for Leave to File a Surreply and granted Wal-Mart's motion to dismiss without prejudice, allowing Plaintiff to amend her initial Complaint in order to add factual allegations to satisfy the requirements for pleading a claim under the ADA. See ECF No. 20.

         Plaintiff filed her Amended Complaint on March 7, 2016. and Wal-Mart moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint on March 10. 2016. ECF Nos. 22, 23. On March 22. 2016. Plaintiff filed her opposition to Wal-Mart's motion to dismiss, and Wal-Mart filed its reply on April 1, 2016. ECF Nos. 25, 26. On April 27. 2016. Plaintiff again filed a motion for leave to file a surreply, ECF No. 28, which Wal-Mart opposed. ECF No. 29.

         II. MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE SURREPLY

         The first issue to be considered is whether Plaintiffs motion for leave to file a surreply should be granted. "As a general rule, this Court will not allow parties to file sur-replies." See Nicholson v. Volkswagen Grp. of Am., Inc., No. RDB-13-3711. 2015 WL 1565442. at *3 (D. Md. Apr. 7, 2015) (citing Loc. R. 105.2.a (D. Md. 2001)): MTB Servs., Inc. v. Tuckman-Barbee Const. Co., No. RDB-12-2109. 2013 WL 1224484, at *6 (D. Md. Mar. 26, 2013)). "A party moving for leave to file a surreply must show a need for a surreply." Id. (citing Loc. R. 105.2.a (D. Md. 2001)). The Court may, however, permit a plaintiff to file a surreply if "a defendant raises new legal issues or new theories in its reply brief." Id. (citing TECH USA., Inc. v. Evans. 592 F.Supp.2d 852, 862 (D. Md. 2009)). "Surreplies may be permitted when the moving party would be unable to contest matters presented to the court for the first time in the opposing party's reply." MTB Servs., 2013 WL 1224484. at *6; .see also Khoury v. Meserve, 268 F.Supp.2d 600, 605 (D. Md. 2003).

         Here, Wal-Mart's reply does not introduce any new facts, legal issues, or theories. Plaintiff has shown no need to file a surreply, and Plaintiffs motion is therefore denied.

         III. MOTION TO DISMISS

         A. Standard of Review

         Wal-Mart has moved to dismiss Plaintiffs Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). When deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). a court "must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint" and must "draw all reasonable inferences [from those facts] in favor of the plaintiff." E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus.. Inc.. 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). 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."" Ashcrofl v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662. 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544. 570 (2007)). The factual allegations must be more than "labels and conclusions . . . [they] must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . ." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see also 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, 235-36 (3d ed. 2004) ("[T]he pleading must contain something more . . . than ... a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action."). "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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663. "But where 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 pleader is entitled to relief." Id. at 679 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)) (alterations in original). Although pleadings of self-represented litigants must be liberally construed, see Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147. 1151 (4th Cir. 1978), liberal construction does not give the court license to ignore a clear failure to allege facts that set forth a cognizable claim. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. for City of Baltimore, 901 F.2d 387. 391 (4th Cir. 1990).

         B. Discussion

         Plaintiffs Amended Complaint raises three distinct causes of action: (1) failure-to-accommodate under the ADA; (2) retaliation under the ADA; and (3) wrongful discharge ...


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