United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Hollander United States District Judge
January 23, 2019, plaintiff Lijo Panghat, M.D., who is
self-represented, filed suit in the Circuit Court for
Baltimore City against his former employers, Baltimore
Veterans Affairs Health Center (“VA”) and
University of Maryland, Baltimore (“UM”). ECF 5
(“Complaint”). Defendants removed the case to
federal court on April 2, 2019, under 28 U.S.C. § 1441.
ECF 1 (“Notice of Removal”).
essence, plaintiff avers that defendants unlawfully fired him
in retaliation for raising a sexual harassment complaint and
that his termination violated procedural due process. ECF 5.
The 44-page Complaint is difficult to decipher, but it
appears that plaintiff lodges claims of employment
retaliation (id. ¶¶ 89-104); breach of
contract (id. ¶¶ 105-07); denial of due
process (id. ¶¶ 19, 20, 22, 34, 37, 63,
96-103, 112); intentional infliction of emotional distress
(id. ¶¶ 129-33); and misrepresentation
(id. ¶¶ 134-42). Plaintiff appended
thirteen exhibits to the Complaint. ECF 5-2 to ECF 5-14.
filed a motion to dismiss on May 24, 2019, for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim,
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
ECF 16. The motion is supported by a memorandum of law (ECF
16-1) and numerous exhibits. ECF 16-2 to ECF 16-20. The same
day, VA filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for
summary judgment (ECF 17), along with a memorandum of law.
ECF 17-1. Plaintiff opposes both motions. ECF 25; ECF 26. UM
has replied (ECF 27), and, per this Court's September 30,
2019 Order (ECF 32), the VA's reply is due by October 30,
September 27, 2019, plaintiff filed a “Motion to Seek
Judicial Protection &/Or Temporary Restraining
Order.” ECF 31 (“TRO Motion”). The TRO
Motion is supported by an affidavit. ECF 31-1.
Memorandum resolves only the TRO Motion. No. hearing is
necessary. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons set
forth below, plaintiff's TRO Motion shall be denied.
Panghat is an Indian national working in the United States on
a J-1 Visa. ECF 5, ¶ 1. In September 2015, UM hired Dr.
Panghat as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of
Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. ECF
5, ¶ 8; ECF 5-3. As part of his job at UM, plaintiff
also worked part-time at VA. ECF 5, ¶ 12.
alleges that, while working at the VA, he was sexually
harassed by a senior surgeon. ECF 5, ¶ 15. According to
plaintiff, he reported “this ill-treatment and needless
abuse to his supervisors[, ] Dr. Braganza and Dr. Lal.”
Id. However, plaintiff alleges that instead of
intervening, his supervisors “made the situation worse
by subjecting him to further harassment, needlessly.”
about January 19, 2016, plaintiff met with two senior
physicians, Dr. Lal and Dr. Sarkar. Id. ¶ 17.
Dr. Sarkar told plaintiff that a VA employee had accused him
of stalking and sexual harassment. Id. Dr. Sarkar
then fired plaintiff. Id. ¶ 18. When plaintiff
“tried to speak up in his defense, Dr. Lal refused to
give him an opportunity . . . to explain himself and try to
prove his innocence.” Id. Plaintiff maintains
that he was terminated “without any notice, either oral
or written.” Id. ¶ 19.
raised the issue of his termination with UM's Title IX
coordinator. Id. ¶ 5. But, according to
plaintiff, UM retaliated against him by “blocking his
transfer” to Johns Hopkins University, where he alleges
he had obtained employment as a post-doctoral fellow.
Id. Further, plaintiff alleges that UM's
meddling has jeopardized his visa status. Id.
Plaintiff represents that he has been unable to find work
since leaving UM. Id. ¶ 6.
noted, plaintiff filed this lawsuit in State court, on
January 23, 2019, and the case was removed on April 2, 2019.
ECF 1. Plaintiff filed the TRO Motion on September 27, 2019.
TRO Motion, plaintiff maintains that he “recently came
across” what he calls “new evidence . . . that an
employee of [UM] is explicitly threatening to inflict
physical harm against” him. Id. at 1.
Plaintiff's “new evidence” is a factual
averment contained in a complaint filed in a different case
pending in this district. Id. (citing Goldstein
v. Univ. of Md. Sch. of Medicine, CCB-18-cv-2376, ECF 1
(“Goldstein Complaint”)). In that case,
the plaintiff has brought claims of sexual harassment,
retaliation, and constructive discharge against UM and
several other defendants, alleging that, while serving as a
research coordinator at VA, she was sexually harassed by
various physicians, including Dr. Panghat. See Id.
¶¶ 131, 164-73. In his TRO Motion, plaintiff points
to the following allegation in the Goldstein
Complaint, ECF 31 at 1: “171. Toursavadkohi responded,
‘I will put him up against a wall and tell him: you
leave her alone right now.'” Plaintiff contends
that he is subject of this statement. Id.
“[D]eeply disturbed” by the comment, plaintiff
avers that this individual poses a “serious and genuine
threat” to his safety. Id. at 2. Accordingly,
he urges the Court to “immediately issue a restraining
order against” Toursavadkohi. Id.