United States District Court, D. Maryland
RICHARD D. BENNETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Cassandra Sutton ("Plaintiff' or "Sutton")
alleges that her current employer, Defendant the State of
Maryland Department of Human Services ("Defendant"
or "DHS"), denied her reasonable accommodations for
her disability and retaliated against her. On December 27,
2018, Sutton commenced this action in the Circuit Court for
Baltimore City, Maryland. On February 21, 2019, Defendant
removed the case to this Court, citing the removal statute
and federal question jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1441, et seq.; 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Sutton's Complaint brings causes of action under both
Tide I of the Americans with Disabilities Act
("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111, et
seq. and the State of Maryland's Fair Employment
Practices Act ("FEPA"), Md. Code Ann., State
Gov't §§ 20-601, et seq. Her Complaint
is comprised of four counts: disability discrimination in
violation of the ADA (Count I); disability discrimination in
violation of FEPA (Count II); retaliation in violation of the
ADA (Count III); and retaliation in violation of FEPA (Count
IV). Sutton seeks only monetary relief.
pending before this Court are Plaintiffs Motion to Remand
(ECF No. 5) and Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Counts III
and IV of the Complaint (ECF No. 13). The parties'
submissions have been reviewed and no hearing is necessary.
See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons
that follow, Plaintiffs Motion to Remand (ECF No. 5) is
DENIED with respect to her federal ADA claims as set forth in
Counts I and III, and GRANTED with respect to her state
claims set forth in Counts II and IV. Therefore,
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Counts III and IV of the
Complaint (ECF No. 13) is DENIED AS MOOT. This Court has
original jurisdiction over Plaintiffs ADA claims (Counts I
and III). See 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The State of
Maryland enjoys sovereign immunity from these claims in both
state and federal court. Accordingly, Plaintiffs ADA claims
(Counts I and III) are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. With the
dismissal of these claims, only Plaintiffs state law claims
remain. This Court declines to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over the state claims and REMANDS this case to
state court for adjudication of Plaintiffs state FEPA claims
(Counts II and IV). See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3).
Motion to Remand
defendant in a state civil action may remove the case to
federal court only if the federal court can exercise original
jurisdiction over at least one of the asserted claims. 28
U.S.C. § 1441(a)-(c). Once an action is removed to
federal court, the plaintiff may file a motion to remand the
case to state court if there is a contention that
jurisdiction is defective. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The
party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing
jurisdiction in the federal court. Johnson v. Advance
America, 549 F.3d 932, 935 (4th Cir. 2008). On a motion
to remand, this Court must "strictly construe the
removal statute and resolve all doubts in favor of remanding
the case to state court." Richardson v. Phillip
Morris, Inc., 950 F.Supp. 700, 701-02 (D. Md. 1997)
(citation omitted); see also Dixon v. Coburg Dairy,
Inc., 369 F.3d 811, 815-16 (4th Cir. 2004).
Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim
Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a
complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 12(b)(6) authorizes
the dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The
purpose of Rule 12(b)(6) is "to test the sufficiency of
a complaint and not to resolve contests surrounding the
facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of
defenses." Presley v. City of Charlottesville,
464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006). While a complaint need not
include "detailed factual allegations," it must set
forth "enough factual matter (taken as true) to
suggest" a cognizable cause of action. Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56
(2001);Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court" 'must
accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in
the complaint'" and must" 'draw all
reasonable inferences [from those facts] in favor of the
plaintiff.'" E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011)
(citations omitted); Hall v. DirectTV, LLC, 846 F.3d
757, 765 (4th Cir. 2017). However, a court is not required to
accept legal conclusions drawn from those facts.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Removal is Proper Because Plaintiff Asserts Claims Under the
argues that removal of this case is "not
legitimate" and a "waste of... judicial
resources" because the state may successfully assert a
sovereign immunity defense to her ADA claims, thereby
depriving this Court of jurisdiction over those claims.
(Pl.'s Mot. to Remand 4, ECF No. 5-1; Pl.'s Reply 2,
ECF No. 17.) Plaintiff appears to argue that the State's
potential sovereign immunity defense deprives this Court of
jurisdiction entirely. (Pl.'s Mot. to Remand 1, ECF No.
5-1.) A defendant in a state civil action may remove the case
to federal court if the federal court can exercise original
jurisdiction over at least one of the asserted claims. 28
U.S.C. § 1441(a). Federal district courts have original
jurisdiction over claims "arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."
28 U.S.C. § 1331. To determine whether a plaintiffs
claims "arise under" the laws of the United States,
this Court adheres to the "well-pleaded complaint
rule," which requires an assessment of the allegations
of the Complaint, rather than potential defenses. Prince
v. Sears Holdings Corp., 848 F.3d 173, 177 (4th Cir.
2017); Harless v. CSX Hotels, Inc., 389 F.3d 444,
450 (4th Cir. 2004).
is proper in this case. Plaintiff brings two counts under a
law of the United States-namely, the ADA. As such, this Court
has original jurisdiction over Plaintiffs claims.
Defendant may therefore remove the entire case to federal
court. Defendant's entitlement to sovereign immunity on
these counts has no bearing on this analysis, as this Court
must look only to the allegations in the Complaint-not to
potential defenses-when determining whether removal is
The State of Maryland has not Waived its Sovereign Immunity
to Title I ADA ...