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Want v. Washington Co MD Govt.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

December 18, 2019

JEROME WANT, Plaintiff,
v.
WASHINGTON CO. MD GOVT., WASHINGTON CO. COMMISSIONERS, ROBERT SLOCUM, ANDREW ESHEMAN, KEVIN CERRONE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Without being served, Defendant Washington County Board of County Commissioners (“Washington County”) filed a motion to dismiss the civil complaint filed by self-represented Plaintiff Jerome Want. (ECF No. 6). Mr. Want was sent a letter by the Clerk advising that, if he did not file an opposition to the motion to dismiss, his complaint may be dismissed without further warning. (ECF No. 7). Mr. Want did not oppose the motion, but instead filed proposed summonses for service of the complaint. (ECF No. 8). The complaint, which Mr. Want filed in forma pauperis, [1] must be dismissed as to all named defendants, without requiring service of the complaint, for the reasons noted herein.

         Mr. Want's complaint purports to assert a claim under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). (ECF No. 1 at p.1, ¶ 1; pp. 10-11). Mr. Want bases his claim on allegations that “Washington County Maryland Government has violated Plaintiff's rights . . . by not providing sufficient equipment and competent drivers to meet his physical needs as a disabled American.” (Id. at p. 1, ¶ 1). Mr. Want explains that he has been left “stranded for long periods of time without bus transportation, ” and that his “frequent complaints to county commissioners, the county transit and . . . to Andrew Eshelman, [and] Kevin Cerrone have been ignored.” (Id.). The narrative Mr. Want provides as the factual background for his claims recounts the occasions where the bus was late or did not arrive; the bus driver did not inform him he did not need to transfer to another bus; the bus stops did not have a place for him to sit; and the county encouraged smoking at bus stops where an ashtray was provided. (ECF No. 1 at pp. 2-8). He states that he has been forced to walk long distances when the bus does not arrive which is painful for him due to his back problems, which provide the basis for his disability. He adds that the discrimination against him as a disabled person includes:

a. persistently leaving [him] stranded
b. persistently not keeping to schedules in this small community with very low traffic especially when [he] rides a non rush hour periods.
c. by not providing sufficient buses to cover all routes d. not making necessary and preventive repairs such as repairs to brakes of buses and replacing suspension systems.
e. not providing sufficient compensation to attract competent and committed drivers (qualitatively and quantitatively).

(ECF No. 1 at p. 11). In addition, Mr. Want states that smoking should be banned at bus stops. (Id.).

         Washington County's motion to dismiss asserts that funding of public transit is not a justiciable issue (ECF No. 6 at p. 2-3) and that the ADA does not provide for the award of compensatory or punitive damages (id. at p. 4-5). Washington County further states that Mr. Want's attempt to have this court “order Washington Co. MD Government to allocate $2, 500, 000 as additional monies for the County Transit budget” is, in essence, his attempt to allocate local, state or federal government funds. (Id. at 2). Defendant explains:

County transit, including the “fixed route” system which is the subject of Plaintiff's complaint, serves the public as a whole. Funds to purchase additional buses, to make repairs, or to pay drivers, must compete, among many public concerns, with funding for safety, sanitation, schools, and streets.
***
“The power to fix the fiscal policies and determine the course of the fiscal operations” within our representative system of government is set forth in Art. III, § 52 of the Maryland Constitution, which “was adopted, in large measure, to correct the haphazard system of appropriation that existed prior to 1915, which could easily lead to a deficit.” Fraternal Order of Police Montgomery Cty. Lodge 35 v. Montgomery Cty. Exec., 210 Md.App. 117, 131, 62 A.3d 238, 246 (2013). Locally, the public transportation system in Washington County is “under the jurisdiction of the County Commissioners.” Code of the Public Local Laws of Washington County § 1-603(f). And, most importantly, funding for the County transit system is within the discretion of the Commissioners, who “may provide the money necessary to the establishment and implementation of the system.” Code of the Public Local Laws of Washington County § 1-603(b). Funding by individual or judicial fiat would violate the foundational separation of powers established in our American republic.

(Id. at 3).

         In reviewing the complaint in light of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(b)(6), the court accepts all well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true and construes the facts and reasonable inferences derived therefrom in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Venkatraman v. REI Sys., Inc., 417 F.3d 418, 420 (4th Cir. 2005) (citing Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993)); Ibarra v. United States,120 F.3d 472, 473 (4th Cir. 1997). Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires only a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Migdal v. Rowe Price-Fleming Int'l Inc., 248 F.3d 321, ...


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