United States District Court, D. Maryland
THEODORE D. CHUANG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Renee Ferebee, who is self-represented, has filed suit
against the Prince George's County Department of Human
Relations Commission (the “Commission”) and its
Executive Director, Michael Lyles. She alleges that the
Commission's staff discriminated against her on the basis
of age and defamed her. Pending before the Court is
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. Having reviewed the
pleadings and briefs, the Court finds that no hearing is
necessary to resolve this Motion. See D. Md. Local
R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is
case arose out of Ferebee's application for employment
with the Lexy Corporation (“Lexy”), which
operates a retail store in the Iverson Mall in Prince
George's County, Maryland. Ferebee alleges that a Lexy
employee called her “old” when she applied, and
that the store refused to hire her because of her age. Compl.
Ex. 1 at 3, ECF No. 1-1. In response, Ferebee filed a
complaint with the Commission, which is authorized to
investigate alleged discrimination in Prince George's
County. See Prince George's Cty. Code §
2-193. Ferebee later sued Lexy in this Court for a violation
of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
(“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634 (2012),
a case that was dismissed because Lexy does not have a
sufficient number of employees to trigger the ADEA's
protections. See Ferebee v. Lexy Corp., No.
PWG-13-3931, 2014 WL 1682015, at *3 (D. Md. Apr. 28, 2014).
filed her original complaint with the Commission on January
24, 2012. Lyles, the Commission's Executive Director,
assigned a staff member, whom Ferebee identifies only as
“Ms. Leslie, ” to investigate her case. Compl.
Ex. 1 at 10, 13. Ferebee accuses Leslie of
“purposefully mishandling” and sabotaging the
case by lying to Lyles about her findings. Compl. at 1, ECF
No. 1. Ferebee also found Leslie to be rude and sarcastic and
believes that Leslie disliked her personally.
February 19, 2013, the Commission issued its determination,
finding that “[b]ased on the Agency's
investigation, there is insufficient evidence to support
[Ferebee's] allegation that [Lexy] discriminated against
her because of age (age 56).” Compl. Ex. 1 at 9.
Ferebee asked for a re-investigation, arguing that Leslie had
“acted unprofessionally” and therefore may not
have fully investigated the case. Compl. Ex. 1 at 8. Lyles
then appointed two new investigators, Jose Villegas and
Charles Floyd, but they failed to find any new evidence of
age discrimination, a result that Ferebee blames on
Villegas's discriminatory and dishonest behavior. Thus,
in a March 28, 2013 letter, Lyles notified Ferebee that the
Commission's original decision would stand.
filed suit against the Commission in the Circuit Court for
Prince George's County, Maryland on May 3, 2013, alleging
that the Commission sabotaged her case against
Lexy. That lawsuit was dismissed on August 29,
2013, and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals dismissed her
appeal on January 28, 2016. She filed her Complaint in this
Court 10 months later, on November 28, 2016, alleging age
discrimination, defamation, and two claims she calls
“sabortagement” and “false
investigati[on]” based on the investigators'
behavior. Compl. at 1. She seeks $2 billion in damages.
seek dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). First, they argue that the Commission is not a
legal entity subject to suit. Second, although Ferebee's
age discrimination cause of action makes no mention of the
law on which she bases her claim, Defendants construe it as
an ADEA claim, and argue that it must be dismissed because
they were never her employer. Finally, they argue that her
defamation claim was filed outside the statute of
limitations, and that her remaining claims are not causes of
action under Maryland law.
Defendants claim that the Commission is not a legal entity,
they cite Prince George's County Code § 287(a),
which establishes the Commission as a statutorily created
County entity with members appointed by the County Executive.
Thus, even if the Commission is not a separate legal entity
subject to suit, Ferebee's Complaint could be construed,
or amended, to be against the County itself. Accordingly, the
Court will address Defendants' remaining arguments.
defeat a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint
must allege enough facts to state a plausible claim for
relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
A claim is plausible when the facts pleaded allow “the
Court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.
Although courts should construe pleadings of self-represented
litigants liberally, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007), legal conclusions or conclusory statements do
not suffice, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The Court must
examine the complaint as a whole, consider the factual
allegations in the complaint as true, and construe the
factual allegations in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268
(1994); Lambeth v. Bd. of Comm'rs of Davidson
Cty., 407 F.3d 266, 268 (4th Cir. 2005). Documents
attached to the complaint or motion may be considered if
“they are integral to the complaint and
authentic.” Sec'y of State for Defence v.
Trimble Navigation Ltd., 484 F.3d 700, 705 (4th Cir.
2007). The court may also take judicial notice of matters of
public record, such as state court proceedings. Philips
v. Pitt Cty. Mem'l Hosp., 572 F.3d 176, 180 (4th
alleges that the Commission investigators assigned to her
case discriminated against her on the basis of age. She
provides no specifics about this discrimination, asserting
only that they were rude to her and that she believes they
“purposefully mishandl[ed]” her case. Compl. at
1. Ferebee does not clarify whether she is asserting a claim
under the ADEA, as Defendants assume, or under the Equal
Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United
States Constitution. See Gregory v. Ashcroft, 501
U.S. 452, 470-71 (1991) (stating that governmental
discrimination on the basis of age that lacks a rational
basis violates the Equal Protection Clause). Even assuming