United States District Court, D. Maryland
ANNETTE P. ISAAC, Plaintiff,
HOUSING AUTHORITY OF BALTIMORE CITY, Defendant.
L. Russell, III United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Housing Authority of
Baltimore City's (“HABC”) Motion to Dismiss,
Motion for More Definite Statement, or, in the Alternative,
Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 8). The Motion is ripe
for disposition, and no hearing is necessary. See Local
Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2016). For the reasons outlined below,
the Court will grant the Motion.
Plaintiff Annette Isaac, an African-American and Christian
female, works for HABC as a Senior Administrative Assistant.
(Am Compl. ¶ 2, ECF No. 1-5); (see ECF No. 1-10). Isaac
has worked for HABC for eight years, and she is an active
union member. (Am. Compl. ¶ 2). On June 11, 2015, Isaac
filed a notice of intent to file a union grievance against
HABC. (ECF No. 1-8). Isaac filed the grievance on June 15,
2015, detailing several instances of what she considers
verbal harassment by her coworkers. (Id.).
December 28, 2015, Isaac sued HABC in the Circuit Court for
Baltimore City, Maryland. (ECF No. 1-2). On February 9, 2016,
Isaac filed an Amended Complaint, also styled as a
“Motion for Summary Judgment, ” raising three
claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
(“Title VII”), as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§
2000e et seq. (2012): (1) retaliatory harassment; (2)
disparate treatment; and (3) religious discrimination. (Am.
Compl.). The Amended Complaint also raises state claims for
negligence and defamation. (Id.).
gravamen of Isaac's allegations appears to be that HABC
has refused to promote her to the positon of Energy Program
Specialist “as promised.” (Am. Compl. at 6).
Isaac alleges she is the only employee in her department that
has not been promoted. (Id. at 7).
Amended Complaint also includes ancillary allegations
concerning isolated incidents of what she characterizes as
verbal harassment or defamation. On at least one occasion,
Isaac's supervisor James Larsah told Isaac she
“look[ed] like she was white . . . because of her
auburn colored hair.” (Id.). On June 11, 2015,
HABC's Real Estate Manager Faith Young “verbally
abused” Isaac with profanity and insinuated Isaac was
not a Christian. (Id. at 8). Additionally, in July
2014, one of Isaac's coworkers, Shavonne Ricketts,
“intentionally attempted to defame” Isaac when
she reported that Isaac “was not cooperating and [was]
being difficult” at a meeting. (Id. at 9).
March 4, 2016, HABC filed the present Motion to Dismiss,
Motion for More Definite Statement, or, in the Alternative,
Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 8). Isaac responded on
March 24, 2016 (ECF No. 11), and HABC replied on April 12,
2016 (ECF No. 14). Isaac filed a surreply on April 25, 2016,
which the Court will not consider because Isaac did not move
for leave to file a surreply. See Local Rule 105.2(a) (D.Md.
2016) (“Unless otherwise ordered by the court, surreply
memoranda are not permitted to be filed.”).
Standard of Review
styles its Motion as a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for
summary judgment under Rule 56. A motion styled in this
manner implicates the Court's discretion under Rule
12(d). See Kensington Vol. Fire Dept., Inc. v. Montgomery
Cty., 788 F.Supp.2d 431, 436-37 (D.Md. 2011), aff'd
sub nom., Kensington Volunteer Fire Dep't,
Inc. v. Montgomery Cty., 684 F.3d 462 (4th Cir. 2012).
Pursuant to Rule 12(d), when “matters outside the
pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the
[Rule 12(b)(6)] motion must be treated as one for summary
judgment under Rule 56.” The United States Court of
Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has articulated two
requirements for proper conversion of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion
to a Rule 56 motion. First, that the “parties be given
some indication by the court that it is treating the 12(b)(6)
motion as a motion for summary judgment” and second,
“that the parties first ‘be afforded a reasonable
opportunity for discovery.'” Greater Balt. Ctr. for
Pregnancy Concerns, Inc. v. Mayor of Balt., 721 F.3d
264, 281 (4th Cir. 2013) (quoting Gay v. Wall, 761
F.2d 175, 177 (4th Cir. 1985)).
the movant expressly captions its motion “in the
alternative” as one for summary judgment and submits
matters outside the pleadings for the court's
consideration, the parties are deemed to be on notice that
conversion under Rule 12(d) may occur. See Moret v.
Harvey, 381 F.Supp.2d 458, 464 (D.Md. 2005). If the
nonmovant is on notice that conversion may occur, the
nonmovant “cannot complain that summary judgment was
granted without discovery unless that party had made an
attempt to oppose the motion on the grounds that more time
was needed for discovery.” Harrods Ltd. v. Sixty
Internet Domain Names, 302 F.3d 214, 244 (4th Cir. 2002)
(quoting Evans v. Techs. Applications & Serv.
Co., 80 F.3d 954, 961 (4th Cir. 1996)). Rule 56(d)
provides that the Court may deny or continue a motion for
summary judgment “[i]f a nonmovant shows by affidavit
or declaration that, for specified reasons, it cannot present
facts essential to justify its opposition.”
“[T]he failure to file an affidavit under Rule 56[(d)]
is itself sufficient grounds to reject a claim that the
opportunity for discovery was inadequate.” Nguyen
v. CNA Corp., 44 F.3d 234, 242 (4th Cir. 1995)
(quoting Paddington Partners v. Bouchard, 34 F.3d
1132, 1137 (2d Cir. 1994)).
HABC captions its Motion in the alternative for summary
judgment and attaches matters beyond Isaac's Amended
Complaint for the Court's consideration. Isaac has not
submitted a Rule 56(d) affidavit expressing a need for
discovery. Instead, she attaches her own extra-pleading
material to her Opposition to HABC's Motion. (See ECF
Nos. 11-1 through 11-4). Accordingly, the Court will treat
HABC's Motion as one for summary judgment.
reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court views the
facts in a light most favorable to the nonmovant, drawing all
justifiable inferences in that party's favor. Ricci
v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 586 (2009); Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986) (citing
Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144,
158-59 (1970)). Summary judgment is proper when the movant
demonstrates, through “particular parts of materials in
the record, including depositions, documents, electronically
stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations
. . . admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials,
” that “there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (c)(1)(A).
motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported,
the nonmovant has the burden of showing that a genuine
dispute of material fact exists. Matsushita Elec. Indus.
Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986).
If the nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient
showing on an essential element of her case where she has the
burden of proof, “there can be ‘no genuine
[dispute] as to any material fact, ' since a complete
failure of proof concerning an essential element of the
nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other
facts immaterial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).
“material fact” is one that might affect the
outcome of a party's case. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248;
see also JKC Holding Co. v. Wash. Sports Ventures,
Inc., 264 F.3d 459, 465 (4th Cir. 2001) (citing
Hooven-Lewis v. Caldera, 249 F.3d 259, 265 (4th Cir.
2001)). Whether a fact is considered to be
“material” is determined by the substantive law,
and “[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly
preclude the entry of summary judgment.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; accord
Hooven-Lewis, 249 F.3d at 265. A
“genuine” dispute concerning a
“material” fact arises when the evidence is
sufficient to allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict in
the nonmoving party's favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.