United States District Court, D. Maryland
LIPTON HOLLANDER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
employment discrimination case, self-represented plaintiff
Linda Dias has filed suit against her employer, the State of
Maryland Judiciary (“Maryland Judiciary”), as
well as her supervisors, Tamara Chester, Kris Donaghy,
Camille Blake, Kathleen Snowden, and Elaine Allen. ECF 1
(“Complaint”). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages
for alleged violations of Title I of the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101
filed the Complaint on November 7, 2017. ECF 1. On December
1, 2017, this Court ordered plaintiff to supplement her
Complaint, as it provided so few details that the Court was
unable to discern whether plaintiff had a plausible claim.
ECF 2. Plaintiff did not file an amended complaint, but
instead filed “supplemental information, ”
consisting of eight three-ring binders filled with documents
marked as “exhibits.” ECF 3. Thereafter, the
Court provided plaintiff with another opportunity to
supplement her Complaint. See ECF 4 (Memorandum);
ECF 5 (Order). Plaintiff subsequently filed an Amended
Complaint. ECF 6.
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), defendants have filed a Motion to
Dismiss the Amended Complaint (ECF 9), supported by a
memorandum of law (ECF 9-1) (collectively, the
“Motion”). Plaintiff opposes the Motion (ECF 17,
“Opposition”), and has submitted an exhibit.
Defendants have not filed a reply, and the time do so has
expired. See Local Rule 105.2.a.
hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See
Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall grant
alleged that she had been employed as a “Drug Court
Liaison” for the District Court of Maryland for
“approximately four years” when she was informed
by her supervisor, Kathleen Snowden, on February 5, 2016,
that she “would be required to sit in the Courtroom for
Drug Court every Tuesday and Thursday for 8 hours and or the
duration of Drug Court.” ECF 6, ¶ 1. Plaintiff
informed Snowden that she could not sit in Drug Court for a
prolonged period of time because doing so would be
“physically impossible, ” as plaintiff suffers
from “debilitating migraines.”
Id. Because of her “debilitating
migraines, ” plaintiff asserts that she must
“avoid bright lights which include sunlight, loud noise
and avoid heat.” Id. ¶ 6.
plaintiff asserts that she received a “demotion in
duties, ” and that her “Drug Court liaison”
replacement “was never instructed to sit in the
Courtroom for Drug Court, other than Holidays . . . [and] has
not sat in Drug Court in over 120 days.” Id.
¶ 1. Further, plaintiff claims that on February 29,
2016, Ms. Blake “instructed” plaintiff to sit
with a co-worker “under a bright fluorescent
bulb” for “four hours.” Id. ¶
to plaintiff, on March 11, 2016, plaintiff's neurologist
completed an “ADA Request form, ” which gave
instructions on how to make her office “ADA
accommodating.” ECF 6, ¶ 5. Plaintiff's doctor
added “clarification” to the instructions on
March 29, 2016. ECF 6, ¶ 5. Plaintiff submitted two
exhibits in support of this contention, styled “Exhibit
I” and “Exhibit J, ” which appear to be
doctor's notes requesting “that Ms. Dias have
access to a fan and that she be able to have frequent water
breaks, at least every 2 hours while working.” ECF 3.
contends that on February 8, 2016, she filed a complaint with
the “Office of Fair Practice” as well as the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).
ECF 6, ¶ 2. Plaintiff did not attach these complaints to
March 16, 2016, plaintiff received a letter from Warren
Hedges, a Fair Practices Officer for the Maryland Judiciary.
See ECF 3, “Exhibit E” (Letter dated
March 16, 2016, from Warren Hedges to plaintiff); ECF 6,
¶ 3. The letter stated, ECF 3 (italics omitted):
After reviewing the facts and circumstances gathered from the
inquiry, the Fair Practices Department has concluded that
there is probable cause to believe that a violation of the
Judiciary's ADA Policy occurred. Specifically, managers
in the District Court of Anne Arundel County did not treat
your verbal statements on or around February 5 as a request
for a reasonable accommodation pursuant to the ADA Policy.
claims that shortly after she received the letter, her
“work station was changed from an area that was ADA
accommodating to an area that was not ADA accommodating by
Ms. Blake at the direction of Tamara Chester.” ECF 6,
¶ 3. On March 29, 2016, plaintiff “was placed on
emergency medical leave of absence for 33 days . . . and
subsequently placed on another FMLA.” Id.
¶ 4. Plaintiff submitted two exhibits which appear to be
doctor's notes seeking plaintiff's excusal from work
for several periods in March and April of 2016. See
ECF 3, “Exhibit F, ” “Exhibit G.”
Additionally, plaintiff submitted a document titled
“Designation Notice (Family and Medical Leave Act),
” which indicates that she was granted FMLA leave for
those same periods. See ECF 3, “Exhibit
alleges that she “remains seated at a work station that
remains ADA non compliant” because her “seat is
in front of windows with blinds open with direct
sunlight.” ECF 6, ¶ 8. Along with her Complaint,
plaintiff attached dozens of photographs of the window, each
of them labeled with a date between November 2016 and
November 2017. See ECF 3, “Exhibits
K-A-81.” Additionally, plaintiff claims that her seat
is “near a co worker” who “uses a breathing
machine that produces a loud grinding sound that intensives
[sic] migraines.” ECF 6, ¶ 9. Plaintiff asserts
that on various dates, all individually named defendants
walked by while plaintiff's co-worker was using the
“breathing machine” and made “no mention to
[plaintiff] about noise.” Id. ¶¶
November 7, 2017, plaintiff filed this suit, alleging
violations of Title I of the ADA, for failure to accommodate.
ECF 1. Plaintiff asserts that she “has not been
reasonably accommodated for 397 days” (ECF 6, ¶
19), and the “recommendations that were provided by
[her] Neurologist would not cause any undue hardship.”
ECF 6, ¶ 20.
Standard of Review
noted, the defendants have moved to dismiss under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). However, defendants contend that
plaintiff's claim is barred by sovereign immunity. The
Fourth Circuit recently reiterated that the defense of
sovereign immunity is a jurisdictional bar, stating that
“‘sovereign immunity deprives federal courts of
jurisdiction to hear claims, and a court finding that a party
is entitled to sovereign immunity must dismiss the action for
lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.'”
Cunningham v. Gen. Dynamics Info. Tech., Inc., 888
F.3d 640, 649 (4th Cir. 2018) (quoting Ackerson v. Bean
Dredging LLC, 589 F.3d 196, 207 (5th Cir. 2009)).
Therefore, defendants should have brought the Motion under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), for lack of subject matter
standards of review for Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and Rule
12(b)(6) are relevant to resolving this Motion.
raise a defense of sovereign immunity under the Eleventh
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. See ECF 9-1.
Sovereign immunity is a jurisdictional bar. As noted, it
“‘deprives federal courts of jurisdiction to hear
claims, and a court finding that a party is entitled to
sovereign immunity must dismiss the action for lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction.'” Cunningham v.
Gen. Dynamics Info. Tech., Inc., 888 F.3d at 649
(quoting Ackerson, 589 F.3d at 207).
of 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); accord Durden v. United States, 736 F.3d
296, 300 (4th Cir. 2013). “When a defendant makes a
facial challenge to subject matter jurisdiction, ‘the
plaintiff, in effect, is afforded the same ...