United States District Court, D. Maryland
STEPHANIE A. GALLAGHER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Jane Doe (“Plaintiff”) filed this case
against Chesapeake Medical Solutions, LLC (“the YDI
LLC”), Chesapeake Medical Solutions, P.A. (“the
YDI P.A.”) (together “the YDI Defendants”),
and Dr. Walter Gianelle (collectively,
“Defendants”), alleging three counts: sexual
harassment, medical malpractice, and negligent supervision
and retention. ECF 1. Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss
and/or for Summary Judgment, ECF 13, along with a Memorandum
of Law in support thereof, ECF 13-1 (collectively, “the
Motion”). This Court has considered that Motion, along
with Plaintiff's Opposition, ECF 17, and Defendants'
Reply, ECF 21. No hearing is necessary. See Loc. R.
105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons that follow,
Defendants' Motion will be granted in part and denied in
facts below are derived from Plaintiff's Complaint and
accepted as true for the purposes of this Motion. The YDI LLC
and the YDI P.A. do business as six urgent care medical
facilities on the Eastern Shore known as “Your
Doc's In, ” (“YDI”). ECF 1,
¶¶ 5, 6. Dr. Gianelle is a physician and “the
highest ranking person, principal, and alter-ego of the YDI
organization.” Id. ¶ 7.
2011, YDI hired Plaintiff to manage one of its medical care
facilities. Id. ¶ 12. Plaintiff transformed a
troubled facility into the most successful YDI branch, and
received praise for her performance. Id. In or
around 2013, Plaintiff was diagnosed with a
“life-threatening” illness requiring extensive
treatment, including an organ transplant. Id. ¶
13. Dr. Gianelle became involved in Plaintiff's care as
“a trusted medical advisor and friend to
in 2015, Dr. Gianelle “began to groom Plaintiff for sex
by confiding in her about extremely personal sexual matters
not ordinarily shared in a normal employer-employee or a
doctor-patient relationship.” Id. ¶ 14.
In or around October, 2015, while Plaintiff remained quite
ill, Dr. Gianelle “proposed a secret affair with
Plaintiff, promising to take care of Plaintiff and to protect
her employment at YDI.” Id. ¶ 15.
Plaintiff alleges that, because of her illness, she was
entirely dependent on Dr. Gianelle for her job and for
“important aspects of her local medical care on the
Eastern Shore, ” so she “was not in a position to
refuse sex” with him. Id. ¶ 16.
alleges that during the course of her illness, Dr. Gianelle
performed health care procedures on her, “sometimes
demanding sex as a form of compensation afterwards.”
Id. ¶ 17. She cites two incidents of medical
care being provided:
On one occasion, Plaintiff suffered a hernia, which Gianelle
attempted to repair at YDI's Easton, Maryland clinic. The
repair attempt was unsuccessful. Nevertheless, Gianelle
demanded that Plaintiff have sexual intercourse with him in
the clinic. No record was made of either Plaintiff's
patient visit to YDI for the hernia or Gianelle's
attempted repair of it. . . .
After that visit, Gianelle also saw Plaintiff at YDI's
Easton, Maryland clinic in order to repair Plaintiff's
surgical incision that had opened. Even though Plaintiff was
still in no physical condition to have sexual intercourse
following that procedure, and was still under the
surgeon's instructions not to have sexual intercourse,
Gianelle nevertheless demanded and received sex in the
clinic, as a form of compensation for the procedure.
2016, another YDI physician fired Plaintiff, without warning.
Id. ¶ 18. In 2017, according to Plaintiff's
Complaint, Dr. Gianelle arranged for Plaintiff to be rehired
into a different position, and then promoted her to a
higher-ranking managerial position in July, 2017.
Id. Plaintiff alleges that “[s]ex with
Gianelle both in and out of the office was a quid pro
quo condition of Plaintiff's re-employment and
continued employment at YDI.” Id. ¶ 21.
and Gianelle continued their sexual relationship into
December, 2017, when Dr. Gianelle ended the relationship.
Id. ¶¶ 18, 20. Plaintiff alleges that even
after Dr. Gianelle terminated the affair, he expected her to
be complicit in covering up his extramarital affairs from his
wife as a condition of continued employment. Id.
¶ 23. Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Gianelle's sexual
behavior created a severe and pervasive hostile work
environment for her. Id. ¶ 25.
alleges that her ultimate termination in 2018 was driven by
illegal motives, because she had not been subjected to any
progressive discipline. Id. ¶ 24. Instead, Dr.
Gianelle told her that he approved her termination because
she had not complied with his efforts to hide his
extramarital affairs from his wife. Id.
Motion to Dismiss
have filed a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), or, in the alternative, a motion for
summary judgment. ECF 13. A defendant is permitted to test
the legal sufficiency of a complaint by way of a motion to
dismiss. See, e.g., In re Birmingham, 846
F.3d 88, 92 (4th Cir. 2017); Goines v. Valley Cmty.
Servs. Bd., 822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir. 2016). A Rule
12(b)(6) motion constitutes an assertion by a defendant that,
even if the facts alleged by a plaintiff are true, the
complaint fails as a matter of law “to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted.”
a complaint states a claim for relief is assessed by
reference to the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2), which
provides that a complaint must contain a “short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” The purpose of the rule is to
provide the defendants with “fair notice” of the
claims and the ...