United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Hollander United States District Judge
employment discrimination case, plaintiff Jeffrey James Dean
filed suit against his former employer, the Berlin Fire
Company (“BFC”), located in the Town of Berlin,
Maryland. ECF 1 (Complaint); ECF 11 (Amended Complaint). Dean
asserts claims for hostile work environment (Count I), as
well as harassment and retaliation (Count II), in violation
of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, codified, as
amended, at 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq.
(“Title VII”). Dean appended numerous exhibits to
his suit. He seeks both compensatory and punitive damages.
moved to dismiss plaintiff's Amended Complaint (ECF 14),
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), supported by a memorandum
of law (ECF 14-2) (collectively, the “Motion”).
According to BFC, the suit is untimely. Dean opposes the
Motion (ECF 15, “Opposition”) and has submitted
several exhibits. BFC has replied. ECF 16.
hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See Loc.
R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow, I must
grant the Motion.
Factual and Procedural Background 
October 2005, BFC hired Dean as a paramedic/firefighter. ECF
11, ¶ 4. During his employment, Dean worked with several
senior BFC officials, including then-Chief Byron Trimble;
Assistant Chief Derrick Simpson; Emergency Medical Services
(“EMS”) Supervisor Norris Phillip Donohue, Sr.;
and “President David Fitzgerald.”
Id. Dean alleges that, over the course of his
employment, he witnessed ongoing racial, sexual, and other
types of harassment by senior BFC officials, directed at
several of his coworkers, including the use of derogatory
racial epithets. Id. ¶¶ 4-6. Moreover, he
claims that he, too, became a victim of harassment and
retaliation. Id. ¶¶ 8, 9.
September 12, 2011, Dean was assigned a new paramedic
partner, Zachery Tyndall. Id. ¶ 7. Tyndall
informed Dean that he had experienced “years of
non-consensual physical sexual contact, harassment,
retaliation and discrimination” by Trimble, Simpson,
Donohue, Fitzgerald, and other BFC employees, “based
upon their perception of Tyndall's sexual preference as
homosexual.” Id. ¶¶ 8, 11. Following
Tyndall's reassignment, Trimble and other BFC officials
also began to harass Dean by asking questions such as:
“Where is your homo partner? Where's the little
faggot?” Id. ¶ 10 (internal quotation
Dean alleges: “Throughout 2011, Dean began feeling
pressure from Donohue, Trimble, Simpson and others . . . to
join in their harassment of Tyndall, which he refused.”
Id. As the harassment of Tyndall increased in
severity, Dean and Tyndall repeatedly asked Trimble, Simpson,
Fitzgerald, and Donohue to stop their behavior, to no avail,
and complained to persons in leadership, including the
President of the Board of Directors, John Holloway.
Id. ¶¶ 12-15. On February 24, 2012, Dean
and Tyndall complained of the ongoing harassment to the Mayor
and to the Human Resources Director of the Town of Berlin
(the “Town”). Id. ¶ 16. The Town
subsequently conducted an investigation, which resulted in
Donohue's dismissal. Id.
the investigation, Dean alleges that BFC officials harassed,
isolated, and disciplined him in retaliation for his
participation. Id. ¶¶ 16-18. Dean was
“chastised for miniscule matters and was written up for
formal discipline for manufactured offenses or for something
so minor as letting leaves blow into the engine bay of the
Firehouse.” Id. ¶ 17. Additionally,
Fitzgerald called the Berlin Police Department to request
that it investigate Dean. Id. ¶ 18. Dean also
alleges that, during an inventory of controlled substances
following an ambulance call, he discovered that someone hid a
narcotics vial in a container for needles, “where it
could only have been deliberately placed by someone with
access to the firehouse and the ambulance.”
Id. After the Town cut funding for BFC in response
to its failure to change its policies and correct its
leadership's misconduct, BFC officials further
“increased their threats and intimidation” toward
Dean. Id. ¶ 19.
result of the ongoing harassment, Dean suffered significant
health problems, including nausea, anxiety attacks, severe
reflux, and acute esophagitis. Id. ¶ 20. In
October of 2012, Dean's physician directed Dean to take a
leave of absence from work until January 21, 2013.
Id. While Dean was on medical leave, the Maryland
Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems initiated
another investigation into BFC's alleged misconduct, for
which Dean provided testimony. Id. ¶¶
receiving medical clearance to return to work, Dean informed
Fitzgerald that he would like to be placed on the active duty
roster. Id. ¶ 28. Initially, Fitzgerald ordered
Dean to complete a “skills assessment” before
returning to work, but later “retreated from that
position and instead told him he would have to have a
‘psychological evaluation.'” Id.
Dean subsequently underwent a four-hour psychological
evaluation with Michael Finegan, Ph.D. However, Dr. Finegan
refused to proceed after discovering that Dean's treating
physician already cleared him to return to work. Id.
¶ 29. Several weeks later, Dean underwent a second
psychological evaluation with a psychiatrist, “Dr.
White, ” who found that Dean was psychologically fit to
return to work. Id. ¶ 30.
addition to the mental health evaluation, Fitzgerald required
Dean to report to Talbot County EMS for training on March 12,
2013, during which Dean would “precept” and
complete twelve Advanced Life Support calls before returning
to BFC. Id. ¶ 31. Dean found Fitzgerald's
requirements unusual, because: (1) Talbot County EMS was 90
minutes from Berlin, and (2) “the requirement of
precepting at another department had never been imposed on
any prior member.” Id. ¶ 32. Despite his
concerns, Dean reported on March 12, 2013. Id.
¶ 33. That same day, BFC fired Tyndall. Id.
March 29, 2013, Dean completed his training at Talbot County
EMS. Id. ¶ 35. Several days later, however,
Dean was injured in a serious car accident that involved a
fatality. Id. After consulting with his physician,
Dean informed Fitzgerald that he would be out on medical
leave until May 14, 2013. Id. ¶ 36. Shortly
thereafter, in April of 2013, Fitzgerald informed Dean that
he was terminated, “allegedly because the company
needed to have its full-time life support providers available
for EMS calls.” ECF 11-2 at 2; see also ECF
11, ¶¶ 36, 58.
August 27, 2013, Tyndall filed suit against BFC in connection
with the above-referenced events. Id. ¶ 41;
see Zachery Tyndall v. The Berlin Fire Company, et
al., Civil No. ELH-13-2496
(“Tyndall”). In Tyndall, both
Tyndall and BFC were represented by the same attorneys
involved in this case. Id. ¶ 41. There, this
Court denied BFC's motion for summary judgment. See
Tyndall, ECF 60 (Memorandum Opinion); ECF 61 (Order).
Tyndal subsequently settled in 2015. See
case, Dean's counsel sent BFC's counsel a demand
letter on August 2, 2016, offering to settle all claims
against BFC for $875, 000.00. ECF 11-1. At some point,
BFC's attorney requested additional documentation
regarding Dean's period of disability due to the auto
accident. See ECF 11-2 at 1. By letter of November
28, 2016, Dean's attorney provided BFC's lawyer with
further details and medical documentation. ECF 11-2.
unspecified date, Dean filed a complaint with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). ECF
11, ¶ 42. On February 23, 2017, the EEOC sent Dean a
Notice of Right to Sue. Id. ¶¶ 40, 44;
see also ECF 11-3. The Notice of Right to Sue
provided that Dean's “lawsuit must be filed
WITHIN 90 DAYS of [his] receipt of this notice; or
[his] right to sue based on this charge will be lost.”
ECF 11-3 at 3.
March 7, 2017, Dean's counsel sent BFC's counsel a
letter. ECF 11, ¶ 45; ECF 11-4.
said, in part, ECF 11-4 at 2:
The purpose of my correspondence is to inquire as to whether
there is any reasonable expectation of resolution without the
necessity of litigation. If your client is interested in
mediation, please advise. If I do not hear from you with
[sic] next 10 days I will assume that you do not and we will
take appropriate action.
ten days later, counsel for the parties spoke by telephone,
and defense counsel “indicated a desire to mediate the
matter.” ECF 11, ¶ 46. Further, Dean alleges that,
during that conversation or one “shortly thereafter,
” his lawyer provided defense counsel with the name of
a proposed mediator. Id. ¶ 47. According to
plaintiff, defense counsel “responded by telephone a
short time thereafter indicating that she had approval to
mediate, ” but her client did not approve of
plaintiff's proposed mediator. Id. ¶ 47.
conversation, defense counsel expressed approval of the
federal magistrate who conducted settlement proceedings in
Tyndall, and “had done such a good job”
in obtaining the settlement. Id. In response,
plaintiff claims his lawyer asserted that he could file suit
“quickly” so as “to make one available,
” i.e., a federal magistrate judge.
Id. At that point, according to plaintiff, counsel
for BFC “request[ed] that Plaintiff not file suit as
she was confident the matter could be resolved in
mediation.” Id. Counsel for BFC then
“indicat[ed] she would send other names [of mediators]
after she spoke with her insurer and client.”
Id. ¶ 48. Significantly, plaintiff asserts that
Dean's “counsel did not hear from [defense counsel]
in response.” Id. ¶ 48.
attorney emailed BFC's counsel on July 20, 2017,
providing a list of proposed mediators. ECF 11, ¶ 48;
ECF 11-5. He also said, ECF 11-5 at 2: “Please let me
know your thoughts.” Notably, defense counsel did not
respond. ECF 11, ¶ 48.
two months later, on September 12, 2017, Dean filed suit.
Dean's counsel also sent an email to BFC's counsel on
September 13, 2017, advising her that Dean “could wait
no longer and ...