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M.R. v. Tajdar

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 19, 2018

M.R., by and through her parents, N.R. and A.R., N.R. and A.R., Plaintiffs,
v.
AZIN TAJDAR, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THEODORE D. CHUANG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiffs M.R, who is three years old, and her parents have filed a civil action against Defendant Azin Tajdar alleging that Tajdar discriminated against M.R. on the basis of disability by failing to make reasonable accommodation for M.R. at Tajdar's home day care facility and dismissing her from the program. Plaintiffs assert claims under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189 (2012), and anti-discrimination provisions of the Maryland Code, as well as for common law negligence. Presently pending before the Court is Tajdar's Motion to Dismiss. Upon review of the pleadings and briefs, the Court finds that no hearing is necessary. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         BACKGROUND

         M.R. is a three-year-old child who has been diagnosed with autism. In January 2015, her parents, A.R. and N.R., enrolled M.R., then an infant, as a full-time attendee at Kids and Tots, the state-licensed day care program run by Tajdar at her home in Potomac, Maryland. By law, Kids and Tots is permitted to enroll a maximum number of eight children at one time. The monthly fee for infants is higher than the fee for toddlers.

         Beginning in October 2016, A.R. and N.R. became concerned about M.R., specifically her failure to use language and her social isolation. With Tajdar's assistance, they consulted M.R.'s pediatrician and the Montgomery County Public Schools ("MCPS") Infants and Toddlers Program to identify whether M.R. has a disability and could qualify for educational programming through MPCS. On November 23, 2016, MCPS concluded that M.R. has a disability and developed an Individualized Family Service Plan ("IFSP") for her, which stated that MCPS would provide educational services for M.R. both at Plaintiffs' home and at Kids and Tots. MCPS accommodated Tajdar's schedule in planning the biweekly services, which began on January 9, 2017. On February 9, 2017, M.R. was formally diagnosed with autism.

         On March 8, 2017, Tajdar suggested that A.R. and N.R. request that MCPS provide and fund an Applied Behavior Analysis intervention ("ABA") for M.R. MCPS agreed to the request. Tajdar also requested that M.R.'s ABA take place in a small nap room, rather than in the classroom space where M.R. had received IFSP services for the previous two months. A.R. and N.R. agreed, and M.R.'s ABA began to take place in the nap room on March 23, 2017. A few days later, on March 27, 2017, Tajdar told A.R. that she "would not provide M. either the classroom or the nap room for her ABA services 10 hours a week." Am. Compl. ¶ 37, ECF No. 13. During a meeting on March 30, 2017, Tajdar told A.R. and N.R. that she was not obligated to provide accommodations for M.R., that M.R.'s ABA could not take place in the classroom because "it wouldn't be fair to the other kids and it wouldn't be fair to me," and that she would no longer have space for M.R. in the nap room because a new infant was enrolling in the program. Id. ¶¶ 40-41. Tajdar told A.R. and N.R. that she had to "draw a line" and that they would have to move M.R. to another day care program. Id. ¶ 42. In a follow-up email that same day, Tajdar confirmed this conversation and repeated that she could not provide M.R. a private room for the ABA "due to limited space and resources" and that a new infant was starting at the day care on April 17. Id. ¶ 43. Because eight children, including M.R., were enrolled at Kids and Tots at that time, and because the monthly fee for infants is higher than for toddlers, Plaintiffs allege that by expelling M.R., Tajdar "was able to open up a more profitable spot for the new infant." Id. ¶ 44.

         As a result of M.R.'s expulsion from Kids and Tots, A.R. and N.R. had to take time off from work, adjust their schedules, arrange for all MCPS services to take place in their home, and search for a new day care program with an immediate opening for a two-year-old child with autism. On April 17, 2017, they enrolled M.R. at Potomac Valley Academy at an additional expense and with a significantly longer daily commute. The expulsion disrupted M.R.'s routine "in a way that was particularly troubling to a child with autism." Id. ¶ 51. It also resulted in great stress to A.R., who was pregnant, leading to an emergency room visit, high blood pressure, and an early induction.

         On December 29, 2017, Plaintiffs filed their Complaint in this Court. On March 26, 2018, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint, in which they alleged failure to accommodate a disability (Count I) and intentional disability discrimination (Count II) under the ADA and its implementing regulations and under Maryland anti-discrimination statutes, Md. Code Ann., State Gov't §§ 20-302, 20-304, and 20-305 (West 2015). They also assert a state law tort claim of negligence (Count III). Plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages, a declaratory judgment, an injunction requiring Tajdar to make reasonable accommodations and allow M.R. can return to her day care program, attorney's fees, and costs.

         DISCUSSION

         In her Motion, Tajdar seeks dismissal of all counts of the Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). First, Tajdar argues that the ADA claim must be dismissed because the ADA does not authorize private claims for monetary damages or declaratory relief and Plaintiffs have not established standing to seek injunctive relief. Second, they argue that the Maryland statutory claims must be dismissed because the relevant statute does not provide a private right of action for a claim of disability discrimination in public accommodations. Finally, they argue that Plaintiffs have failed to state a plausible negligence claim under Maryland law.

         I. Legal Standard

         To defeat a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 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. Legal conclusions or conclusory statements do not suffice. Id. 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).

         II. ADA

         In Counts I and II, Plaintiffs allege that Tajdar intentionally discriminated against M.R. and failed to accommodate her disability by expelling her from the day care program, in violation of the ADA. Under Title III of the ADA, "[n]o individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation." 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a). Day care facilities are places of public accommodation within the meaning of the ADA. Id. § 12181(7)(K). The ADA further provides that discrimination includes "a failure to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures, when such modifications are necessary to afford" services to individuals with disabilities, unless the modification would "fundamentally alter the nature" of the services provided. Id. ยง 12182(b)(2)(A)(ii). A person without a disability may also bring a claim for discrimination under Title III of ...


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