United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case involves Plaintiff Monica Jeffries'
failure-to-accommodate, retaliation, and wrongful discharge
claims against her former employer, Defendant Walmart Stores
East, LLC (“Walmart”), pursuant to the Americans
with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §
12112 et seq, and her attempt to add two related
claims under the Family and Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. § 22601 et seq.
This Memorandum Opinion and accompanying Order address
Walmart's Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 15, and its Motion
to Strike Reply to Response to Motion, ECF No. 26. A hearing
is not necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md.). For
the reasons stated below, both motions are granted.
Jeffries was formerly employed as an Overnight Supervisor at
Walmart's Waldorf location until her termination in 2013
or 2014. ECF No. 10 at 2. At the time of her
termination, Ms. Jeffries was suffering from breast cancer,
the side effects of chemotherapy treatment, and a
work-related leg injury. Id. at 5, 8, 14. Ms.
Jeffries alleges that Walmart was aware of her breast cancer
diagnosis and chemotherapy treatment when she was hired and
permitted her to work a modified schedule of four ten-hour
shifts per week. Id. at 2-3. During the October
prior to her termination, Ms. Jeffries was injured when a
coworker pushed a cart into her left leg. Id. at 5.
Her chemotherapy had weakened her immune system, so she took
an extended leave of absence to treat the leg injury.
Id. Ms. Jeffries alleges that she regularly
forwarded “disability certificates” to her
supervisor and “remained in constant contact with
Walmart about [her] situation.” Id. at 5, 6.
After six weeks of treatment, Ms. Jeffries was released to
return to work without restrictions. Id. at 5. When
she called her supervisor to ask when she could return to
work, she was informed that she had been terminated.
Jeffries filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)
alleging disability discrimination and retaliation against
Walmart, see Jeffries v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP,
No. GJH-15-473, ECF No. 1-4 (D. Md.) (“Jeffries
I”), and she was issued a
“right-to-sue” notice on January 29, 2015,
id. at ECF No. 1-5. Ms. Jeffries filed a Complaint
in this Court on February 28, 2015 and, after receiving leave
from the Court, she filed an Amended Complaint on March 7,
2016 alleging failure-to-accommodate, retaliation, and
wrongful discharge claims under the ADA related to her
employment and termination by Walmart. Id. at ECF
No. 22. This Court dismissed the case with prejudice for
failure to state a claim on July 11, 2016. Id. at
ECF No. 31. On February 17, 2017, Ms. Jeffries filed a second
case in this Court with the same claims based on the same set
of facts. See Jeffries v. Wal-Mart Stores East,
L.P., No. PJM-17-514, ECF No. 1 (D. Md.)
(“Jeffries II”). The Court dismissed the
case sua sponte based on principles of res
judicata. Id. at ECF No. 3.
August 30, 2017, Ms. Jeffries filed her Complaint in the
instant case. ECF No. 1. On October 2, 2017, Ms. Jeffries
filed a Motion to Extend Time to Amend the Complaint, ECF No.
4, which the Court granted on December 21, 2017. ECF No. 5.
Instead of filing an Amended Complaint, Ms. Jeffries filed
three additional motions on January 1, March 8, and September
5, 2018 requesting additional time to amend the Complaint.
ECF Nos. 6, 7, 8. On September 27, 2018, the Court granted
Ms. Jeffries twenty-one days to file an Amended Complaint,
ECF No. 9, and Ms. Jeffries filed her Amended Complaint on
October 19, 2018.
December 14, 2018, Walmart filed a Motion to Dismiss the
Amended Complaint. ECF No. 15. On February 21 and March 29,
2019, Ms. Jeffries filed motions requesting additional time
to respond to Walmart's Motion to Dismiss and file an
Amended Complaint. ECF Nos. 17, 21. On April 22, 2019, the
Court granted Ms. Jeffries twenty-one days to respond to
Walmart's Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 22. On May 15, 2019,
instead of filing a response to the Motion to Dismiss, Ms.
Jeffries filed a Second Amended Complaint that alleged the
same three ADA claims and added two new claims under the
FMLA. ECF No. 23. Walmart filed a response in support of its
motion on May 29, 2019, ECF No. 24, and Ms. Jeffries filed a
surreply on June 14, 2019, ECF No. 25. On June 28,
2019, Walmart filed a Motion to Strike Ms. Jeffries'
surreply, ECF No. 26, which Ms. Jeffries opposed, ECF No. 27.
MOTION TO STRIKE
first issue to be considered is whether Walmart's Motion
to Strike Ms. Jeffries' surreply should be granted.
“Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, surreply
memoranda are not permitted to be filed.” Loc. R.
105.2.a (D. Md.); see Nicholson v. Volkswagen Grp. of
Am., Inc., No. RDB-13-3711, 2015 WL 1565442, at *3 (D.
Md. Apr. 7, 2015) (citing Loc. R. 105.2.a (D. Md. 2001))
(“As a general rule, this Court will not allow parties
to file sur-replies.”). A “party moving for leave
to file a surreply must show a need for a surreply, ”
MTB Servs., Inc. v. Tuckman-Barbee Const. Co., No.
RDB-12-02109, 2013 WL 1224484, at *6 (D. Md. Mar. 26, 2013),
and “[s]urreplies may be permitted when the moving
party would be unable to contest matters presented to the
court for the first time in the opposing party's reply,
Ms. Jeffries never asked for leave to file a surreply and the
Court never permitted a surreply to be filed. Moreover, a
surreply is not necessary here because, aside from addressing
the new claims that Ms. Jeffries included in the Second
Amended Complaint that she also filed without leave of court,
Walmart did not introduce any new facts, legal issues, or
theories in its reply brief. Thus, there was no need to file
a surreply, and Walmart's Motion to Strike is granted.
MOTION TO DISMISS
Standard of Review
contends that Ms. Jeffries' Amended Complaint is barred
by the doctrine of res judicata, thus depriving the
Court of subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). When a defendant challenges
subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1),
“the district court is to regard the pleadings as mere
evidence on the issue, and may consider evidence outside the
pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for
summary judgment.” Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co.,
166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999).
also moves to dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to
state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). Rule 12(b)(6) permits a defendant to present a
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).
To survive a motion to dismiss invoking 12(b)(6), “a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, ‘to state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663. “Threadbare recitals
of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere
conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. at
678; Twombly, ...