United States District Court, D. Maryland
Lipton Hollander, United States District Judge
Cook, the self-represented plaintiff, filed suit against her
former employer, defendant Springfield Hospital Center
(“Springfield”), as well as Paula Langemead, Nick
Pindale, Connie Schaeffer, and Thomas Wright (collectively,
the “Individual Defendants”). ECF
In the suit, filed June 10, 2016, Cook alleges violations of
the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, 42
U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq. (the
“ADA”). ECF 1. Plaintiff appended several
exhibits to her suit, including a copy of the Charge of
Discrimination (the “Charge”) that she submitted
to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”) on December 17, 2014 (ECF 1-3 at 3-4)
and the EEOC's “Notice of Suit Rights, ”
dated March 9, 2016. ECF 1-2 at 1.
who is hard of hearing, worked part time as a Sign Language
Interpreter at Springfield, pursuant to a contract. ECF 1 at
4-5. She was terminated on March 17, 2015. Id. at 6.
Cook claims, inter alia, that Springfield failed to
accommodate her disability and then terminated her in
retaliation for her filing of the Charge with the EEOC. ECF 1
have moved to dismiss the Complaint (ECF 8), supported by a
memorandum of law (ECF 8-1) (collectively, the
“Motion”). Relying on Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and
12(b)(b), defendants argue, inter alia, that the
case is barred by the state sovereign immunity doctrine, as
embodied in the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution, and
that Ms. Cook failed to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted. ECF 8-1 at 4-8. The Court received Cook's
“Answer” to the Motion on September 19, 2016.
See ECF 13. It states: “I have a genuine issue
of material fact. I would like a hearing.” Id.
Further, the Answer states: “I will mail out a typed
copy of this letter tomorrow and a certificate of
service.” Id. However, no further
correspondence has been received from Ms. Cook.
hearing is unnecessary to resolve the Motion. See
Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall grant
began working at Springfield in October 2009. ECF 1-3 at 3.
She alleges that, during the summer of 2010, her supervisor,
Thomas Wright, began “making threats that he was going
to give [Ms. Cook's] contracted hours to another
employee.” ECF 1 at 5. On August 21, 2013, Mr. Wright
reduced the plaintiff's hours to four days per week.
Id. According to plaintiff, none of her twelve
co-workers suffered a reduction in hours. Id. About
a year later, on July 5, 2014, Mr. Wright told Ms. Cook that
he was planning on hiring a new interpreter, who would assume
some of the hours that Ms. Cook had been working.
Id. Ms. Cook's hours were reduced from
“96” a month to 32 hours per month. Id.
December 17, 2014, Ms. Cook filed her Charge with the EEOC,
claiming that she was discriminated against based on her
disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities
Act. ECF 1-3 at 3-4. She alleged that the discrimination took
place between July 5, 2014 and December 10, 2014.
Id. at 6.
Cook was terminated from her position at Springfield on March
17, 2015. ECF 1 at 6. She amended her charge on July
15, 2015, to allege retaliation. ECF 1-2.
EEOC investigated the allegations in the Charge and, on March
9, 2016, closed its investigation, as it was “unable to
conclude that the information obtained establishes violations
of the statutes.” ECF 1-2. The EEOC issued a Notice of
her right to sue, dated March 9, 2016. Id.
suit, Cook seeks a total of $152, 900 in damages, including
lost benefits, reduced wages, and severance. ECF 1 at 7.
However, she does not seek prospective injunctive relief.
Standards of Review
Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears the burden of proving, by
a preponderance of evidence, the existence of subject matter
jurisdiction. See Demetres v. East West Const.,
Inc., 776 F.3d 271, 272 (4th Cir. 2015); see also
Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir.
1999). A challenge to subject matter jurisdiction under Rule
12(b)(1) may proceed “in one of two ways”: either
a facial challenge, asserting that the allegations pleaded in
the complaint are insufficient to establish subject matter
jurisdiction, or a factual challenge, asserting
“‘that the jurisdictional allegations of the
complaint [are] not true.'” Kerns v. United
States, 585 F.3d 187, 192 (4th Cir. 2009) (citation
omitted) (alteration in original); see also Buchanan v.
Consol. Stores Corp., 125 F.Supp.2d 730, 736 (D. Md.
facial challenge, “the facts alleged in the complaint
are taken as true, and the motion must be denied if the
complaint alleges sufficient facts to invoke subject matter
jurisdiction.” Kerns, 585 F.3d at 192; see
also Ibarra v. United States, 120 F.3d 472, 474 (4th
Cir. 1997). In a factual challenge, on the other hand,
“the district court is entitled to decide disputed
issues of fact with respect to subject matter
jurisdiction.” Kerns, 585 F.3d at 192. In that
circumstance, the court “may regard the pleadings as
mere evidence on the issue and may consider evidence outside
the pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for
summary judgment.” Velasco v. Gov't of
Indonesia, 370 F.3d 392, 398 (4th Cir. 2004); see
also Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v.
United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991). Here,
defendants assert a facial challenge.
also premise their Motion on Rule 12(b)(6), for
“failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” A defendant may test the legal sufficiency of
a complaint by way of a motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6). Goines v. Valley Cmty, Servs, Bd., 822
F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir. 2016); McBurney v.
Cuccinelli, 616 F.3d 393, 408 (4th Cir. 2010),
aff'd sub nom. McBurney v. Young, __ U.S. __,
133 S.Ct. 1709 (2013); Edwards v. City of Goldsboro,
178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion
constitutes an assertion by a defendant that, even if the
facts alleged by a plaintiff are true, the complaint fails as
a matter of law “to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted.” Whether a complaint states a claim for
relief is assessed by reference to the pleading requirements
of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). It provides that a complaint must
contain a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” The
purpose of the rule is to provide the defendants with
“fair notice” of the claims and the
“grounds” for entitlement to relief. Bell
Atl., Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).
survive a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint
must contain facts sufficient to “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at
570; see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009)
(“Our decision in Twombly expounded the
pleading standard for ‘all civil actions' . . . .
” (citation omitted)); see also Simmons v. United
Mortg. & Loan Inv., LLC, 634 F.3d 754, 768 (4th Cir.
2011). But, a plaintiff need not include “detailed
factual allegations” in order to satisfy Rule 8(a)(2).
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Moreover, federal pleading
rules “do not countenance dismissal of a complaint for
imperfect statement of the legal theory supporting the claim
asserted.” Johnson v. City of Shelby, __ U.S.
__, 135 S.Ct. 346, 346 (2014) (per curiam).
the rule demands more than bald accusations or mere
speculation. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see
Painter's Mill Grille, LLC v. Brown, 716 F.3d 342,
350 (4th Cir. 2013). If a complaint provides no more than
“labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action, ” it
is insufficient. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Rather,
to satisfy the minimal requirements of Rule 8(a)(2), the
complaint must set forth “enough factual matter (taken
as true) to suggest” a cognizable cause of action,
“even if . . . [the] actual proof of those facts is
improbable and . . . recovery is very remote and
unlikely.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 (internal
reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, 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 omitted); see Houck v. Substitute Tr. Servs.,
Inc., 791 F.3d 473, 484 (4th Cir. 2015); Kendall v.
Balcerzak, 650 F.3d 515, 522 (4th Cir. 2011), cert.
denied, __ U.S. __, 132 S.Ct. 402 (2011); Monroe v.
City of Charlottesville, 579 F.3d 380, 385-86 (4th Cir.
2009), cert. denied, 559 U.S. 992 (2010). But, a
court is not required to accept legal conclusions drawn from
the facts. See Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286
(1986). “A court decides whether [the pleading]
standard is met by separating the legal conclusions from the
factual allegations, assuming the truth of only the factual
allegations, and then determining whether those allegations
allow the court to reasonably infer” that the plaintiff
is entitled to the legal remedy sought. A Society Without
a Name v. Virginia, 655 F.3d 342, 346 (4th.Cir. 2011),
cert. denied, __ U.S. __, 132 S.Ct. 1960 (2012).
motion asserting failure to state a claim typically
“does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the
merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.”
Edwards, 178 F.3d at 243 (quotation marks omitted);
see Houck, 791 F.3d at 484; Tobey v. James,
706 F.3d 379, 387 (4th Cir. 2013). But, “if all facts
necessary to the affirmative defense ‘clearly appear[ ]
on the face of the complaint, '” or in
other material that is the proper subject of consideration
under Rule 12(b)(6), such a defense can be resolved on the
basis of the facts alleged in the complaint. Goodman v.
Praxair, Inc., 494 F.3d 458, 464 (4th Cir. 2007) (en
banc) (citation omitted) (emphasis in original); see
Houck, 791 F.3d at 484.
resolving a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), a court is
“generally limited to a review of the allegations of
the complaint itself.” Goines, 822 F.3d at
165-66; see Clatterbuck v. City of Charlottesville,
708 F.3d 549, 557 (4th Cir. 2013) (abrogated on other
grounds by Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Ariz., __
U.S. __, 135 S.Ct. 2218 (2015), as recognized in Cahaly
v. Larosa, 796 F.3d 399 (4th Cir. 2015)); Bosiger v.
U.S. Airways, Inc., 510 F.3d 442, 450 (4th Cir. 2007).
Under limited exceptions, however, a court may consider
documents beyond the complaint without converting the motion
to dismiss to one for summary judgment. Goldfarb v. Mayor
& City Council of Baltimore, 791 F.3d 500, 508 (4th
relevance here, a court may properly consider documents that
are “explicitly incorporated into the complaint by
reference and those attached to the complaint as exhibits. .
. .” Goines, 822 F.3d at 166 (citations
omitted); see U.S. ex rel. Oberg v. Pennsylvania Higher
Educ. Assistance Agency, 745 F.3d 131, 136 (4th Cir.
2014) (quoting Philips v. Pitt Cty Memorial Hosp.,
572 F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir. 2009)); Anand v. Ocwen Loan
Servicing, LLC, 754 F.3d 195, 198 (4th Cir. 2014);
Am. Chiropractic Ass'n v. Trigon Healthcare,
Inc., 367 F.3d 212, 234 (4th Cir. 2004), cert.
denied, 543 U.S. 979 (2004); Phillips v. LCI
Int'l Inc., 190 F.3d 609, 618 (4th Cir. 1999)). A
court may also “consider a document submitted by the
movant that was not attached to or expressly incorporated in
a complaint, so long as the document was integral to the
complaint and there is no dispute about the document's
authenticity.” Goines, 822 F.3d at 166
(citations omitted). To be “integral, ” a
document must be one ...