United States District Court, D. Maryland
Xinis United States District Judge
before the Court are three motions to dismiss, filed by
Defendants University Space Research Association (ECF No. 5),
Alutiiq Pacific LLC (ECF No. 10), and NASA Goddard Space
Flight Center (ECF No. 14). Pro se Plaintiff Kailyn Cage has
not responded to the motions nor has she answered this
Court's Order to show cause as to why the Court should
not rule on the motions without her response. See
ECF No. 16. Accordingly, the Court considers the motions
fully briefed, and no hearing is necessary. Loc. R. 105.6.
For the following reasons, the motions are GRANTED.
October 30, 2018, Plaintiff Kailyn Cage filed this suit
against Defendants NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
(“GSFC”), Alutiiq Pacific LLC
(“Alutiiq”), and University Space Research
Association (“USRA”) (collectively,
“Defendants”), asserting claims related to an
incident from Cage's time as an intern at GSFC.
See ECF No. 1. On July 29, 2015, during Cage's
internship, Alutiiq security officers stopped Cage for a
vehicle inspection as she was leaving GSFC's campus. ECF
No. 14-3 ¶ 11. Cage brings three claims against
Defendants arising out of this event. Cage asserts the
officers “performed an illegal search of locked vehicle
compartments . . . without consent or a warrant, ”
resulting in damage to her car. ECF No. 1 at 5. Cage next
alleges that the officers “illegally detain[ed]”
her and her property without probable cause. Id.
Finally, Cage claims that she suffered “[d]eformation
[sic] of character and subsequent dismissal of employment,
” including USRA's failure to pay her stipend in
full. Id. Each Defendant has moved to dismiss, or
for summary judgment, separately. The Court considers each
motion in turn.
Standard of Review
moves for dismissal or, in the alternative, for summary
judgment, attacking the sufficiency of the claims. ECF No.
5-1 at 1. When a motion to dismiss is styled in the
alternative as a motion for summary judgment, the Court may
exercise its discretion under Rule 12(d) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure to convert the Rule 12(b)(6) motion to one
brought pursuant to Rule 56. See Bosiger v. U.S.
Airways, 510 F.3d 442, 450 (4th Cir. 2007);
Kensington Volunteer Fire Dep't, Inc. v. Montgomery
Cty., 788 F.Supp.2d 431, 436 (D. Md. 2011),
aff'd sub nom. Kensington Volunteer Fire Dep't,
Inc. v. Montgomery Cty., Md., 684 F.3d 462 (4th Cir.
2012). Before a Rule 12(d) conversion, the parties must: (1)
“be given some indication by the court that it is
treating the 12(b)(6) motion as a motion for summary
judgment;” and (2) “be afforded a reasonable
opportunity for discovery.” Greater Balt. Ctr. for
Pregnancy Concerns, Inc. v. Mayor & City Council of
Balt., 721 F.3d 264, 281 (4th Cir. 2013) (internal marks
and citations omitted).
first requirement is met “[w]hen a party is aware that
material outside the pleadings is before the Court.”
Id. Parties are deemed to be on such notice when
“the movant expressly captions its motion ‘in the
alternative' as one for summary judgment and submits
matters outside the pleadings for the court's
consideration.” Hart v. Shearin, No.
GLR-15-2056, 2016 WL 3459846, at *4 (D. Md. June 24, 2016)
(citing Moret v. Harvey, 381 F.Supp.2d 458, 464 (D.
Md. 2005)). As to the second requirement, a party
“cannot complain that summary judgment was granted
without discovery unless that party has made an attempt to
oppose the motion on the grounds that more time was needed
for discovery.” Id. (quoting Harrods Ltd.
v. Sixty Internet Domain Names, 302 F.3d 214, 244 (4th
Cir. 2002)); see also Nguyen v. CNA Corp., 44 F.3d
234, 242 (4th Cir. 1995) (“[T]he failure to file an
affidavit under [Rule 56(d)] is itself sufficient grounds to
reject a claim that the opportunity for discovery was
inadequate.”) (citation omitted).
captioned its motion in the alternative for summary judgment
and attached an affidavit including matters beyond the
Complaint. See ECF Nos. 5, 5-3. Because Cage has
been given ample opportunity to respond but has not mounted
any opposition, the Court will treat the motion as one for
judgment is appropriate when the Court, viewing the evidence
in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, finds no
genuine disputed issue of material fact, entitling the movant
to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
(1986); Emmett v. Johnson, 532 F.3d 291, 297 (4th
Cir. 2008). “A party opposing a properly supported
motion for summary judgment ‘may not rest upon the mere
allegations or denials of [his] pleadings,' but rather
must ‘set forth specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial.'” Bouchat v. Baltimore
Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir.
2003) (quoting former Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). “A mere
scintilla of proof . . . will not suffice to prevent summary
judgment.” Peters v. Jenney, 327 F.3d 307, 314
(4th Cir. 2003).
Complaint incudes only one claim against USRA-that USRA
“failed to pay the remainder of [her] stipend”
despite completion of her final project. ECF No. 1 at 5.
Although Cage does not plead a particular statutory or common
law claim, construed liberally, Cage appears to assert a
claim for unpaid wages. Under either Maryland or federal law,
however, Cage's claim is barred by the statute of
limitations. A claim for unpaid wages under the Maryland Wage
Payment and Collection Law “must be filed within three
years and two weeks from the date on which the employer
should have paid the wage.” Butler v. VisionAIR,
Inc., 385 F.Supp.2d 549, 554 (D. Md. 2005); see
also Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 3-507.2(a);
Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-101. Actions
under the Fair Labor Standards Act must be brought within two
years, or within three years if the claim states a
“willful violation.” 29 U.S.C. § 255(a).
the evidence most favorably to Cage, her termination date was
July 30, 2015, and USRA issued the final stipend payment to
Cage on August 4, 2015. ECF No. 5-3 ¶ 10. From final
payment, Cage had until August 18, 2018 to file an unpaid
wage claim against USRA at the latest. Cage did not file suit
until October 30, 2018, well beyond the allowable time. Thus,
her claim is barred by the statute of limitations. The Court
grants USRA's summary judgment motion.