UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
September 12, 2007
MICHAEL SINDRAM*FN1, PLAINTIFF,
DARLINE MERRIWETHER*FN2, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reggie B. Walton United States District Judge
On July 31, 2006, the plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed*fn3 this action alleging that he is a "disabled veteran" and that the defendant, Darline Merriwether, "has orchestrated a vendetta . . . against [him] and is [an] agent for Walter Reed Hospital ("WRH"), the public entity under Title II of the ADA [the American with Disabilities Act ("ADA")], 42 U.S.C. §12131(1) (2000), and as such, is required to ensure that no qualified individual with a disability shall, on the basis of [his] disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity." Complaint ("Compl.") at 1 (internal quotation marks omitted).*fn4 As an example of the purported ADA violations, the plaintiff inartfully alleges that he is entitled to protection under the ADA due to his disabilities but was denied reasonable accommodations at WRH related to his "requirements [for] medical care, outpatient . . . follow-up at the orthopaedic, occupational therapy, and physical therapy [at] clinics and [the] recreation/gymnasium/weight room facilities of WRH." Id. ¶4. The plaintiff further contends that without "demonstrat[ing] that . . . modifications [requested by]" him were made by WRH, he was "wrongful[ly] terminat[ed] from [the hospital] on February 17, 2006," in violation of regulations that govern the operation of the hospital.*fn5 Id. (modifications in original and other modifications added by the Court). And according to the plaintiff, his termination was wrongful because the "[a]vailable WRH record does not explain whether the defendant made its required determination under 28 C.F.R. § 35.130(b)(7) . . . that allowing [the plaintiff to continue to receive treatment at the hospital] would 'fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program and activity'" of the hospital. Id. ¶6. The plaintiff seeks to hold Ms. Merriwether responsible for the alleged ADA violations and request that he be awarded over $1.2 million in damages and "[s]uch other and further relief as [the] Court [deems] just and proper. Id. at 3.
Currently before the Court is the defendant's Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.)*fn6 Defendant's Motion to Dismiss ("Def.'s Mot."). Specifically, the defendant asserts that the plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted because the defendant is an individual who cannot be sued for an alleged violation of Title II of the ADA. Id. at 2.
II. Standards of Review
To survive a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a plaintiff must make sufficiently detailed factual allegations in his complaint "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, ___ U.S. ____, ____, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1959 (2007). In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court "must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint," Erickson v. Pardus, ___ U.S. ____, ____, 127 S. Ct 2197, 2200 (2007) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted), and "grant the plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged," Trudeau v. FTC, 456 F.3d 178, 193 (D.C. Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). However, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief [in his complaint] requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, ___ U.S. at ____, 127 S.Ct. at 1959 (internal quotation marks and brackets omitted). Moreover, the Court need not accept inferences that are unsupported by the facts set forth in the complaint or "legal conclusion[s] couched as . . . factual allegation[s]." Trudeau, 456 F.3d at 193 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). For the purposes of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court may only consider the facts alleged in the complaint, any documents attached as exhibits, and matters about which the Court may take judicial notice. EEOC v. St. Francis Xavier Parochial Sch., 117 F.3d 621, 624-25 (D.C. Cir. 1997). Factual allegations in memoranda of law may not be considered when deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, particularly when the facts contained in the briefs contradict those alleged in the complaint. Henthorn v. Dep't of Navy, 29 F.3d 682, 688 (D.C. Cir.1994); cf. Behrens v. Pelletier, 516 U.S. 299, 309 (1996) (when a motion to dismiss is based on the complaint, the facts alleged in the complaint control).
III. Legal Analysis
As noted above, the defendant requests that the Court dismiss the plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) because the defendant is an individual who cannot be sued for an alleged violation of Title II of the ADA. Compl. at 2 Mot. at 5. In the plaintiff's opposition, he does not address any of the assertions and arguments set forth in the defendant's Rule 12(b)(6) motion. See Plaintiff Opposition ("Pl.'s Opp'n."). Instead, the plaintiff asserts new claims against the defendant which were not part of his complaint. For instance, the plaintiff asserts that "[u]nder color of law Merriwether is liable for [a] series of retaliatory and harassing . . . acts over a two year period sufficient to state [a] continuing tort violation and [an] intentional infliction of emotional distress claim under District of Columbia law . . . ." Pl.'s Opp'n. at 2. In addition, the plaintiff asserts a violation of the Eighth Amendment, claiming "monetary damages and injunctive relief" under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Id. at 2. Although the plaintiff reasserts a violation of Title II of the ADA by the defendant, he never addresses in his opposition why the defendant's Rule 12(b)(6) motion should be denied.*fn7 Pl.'s Opp'n.
Courts in this Circuit have interpreted the Supreme Court's instruction in Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520(1972), that the complaint of a pro se plaintiff be held to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers," to equally apply to all filings submitted by pro se litigants. See, e.g. Richardson v. United States 193 F.3d 545, 548 (D.C. Cir. 1999) (holding that "[c]courts must construe pro se filings liberally") (citing Haines, 404 U.S. at 520); Voinche v. FBI, 412 F. Supp. 2d 60, 70 (D.D.C. 2006) (observing that "[t]his Court gives pro se parties the benefit of the doubt and may ignore some technical shortcomings of their filings" and applying the Haines rule to a plaintiff's summary judgment motion) (citing Haines, 404 U.S. at 520); Calloway v. Brownlee, 366 F. Supp. 2d 43, 55 (D.D.C. 2005) (Walton, J.) (holding that the Court "must take pains to protect the rights of prose parties against the consequences of technical errors") (citing Haines, 404 U.S. at 520). Despite this leniency, a pro se plaintiff's complaint "must at least meet a minimal standard" of what pleadings must entail. Price v. Phoenix Home Life Ins. Co., 44 F. Supp. 2d 28, 31 (D.D.C.1999) (citing Wilson v. Civil Town of Clayton, 839 F.2d 375, 378-79 (7th Cir.1988)). Therefore, although pro se pleadings are to be read liberally, a pro selitigant, like any other litigant, must comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. SeeMcCreary v. Heath, No. 04-00623, 2005 WL 975736, at *1 (D.D.C. April 22, 2005); Jarrell v. Tisch, 656 F.Supp. 237, 239 (D.D.C.1987).
Here, the plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted for several reasons. Title II of the ADA does not permit lawsuits against individuals. And, the plaintiff specifically requests that this Court find "Darl[i]ne Merriwether liable for all injuries, damages, and violations suffered by him," as a result of the alleged violation of Title II of the ADA. Compl. at 3. But, the ADA defines the term "public entity" as "any State or local government" or "any department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a State or States or local government." See 42 U.S.C. § 12131(1)(A)-(B). Further, existing legal authority has concluded that Title II of the ADA does not provide for individual capacity suits. See Williams v. McLemore, No. 05-2678, 2007 WL 1748146, at *6 (6th Cir. June 19, 2007) ("the ADA does not provide for personal liability for defendants sued in their individual capacities."); Garcia v. S.U.N.Y. Health Sciences Center of Brooklyn, 280 F.3d 98, 107 (2d Cir. 2001) ("Insofar as Garcia is suing the individual defendants in their individual capacities, neither Title II of the ADA nor § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act provides for individual capacity suits . . ."); Alsbrook v. City of Maumelle, 184 F.3d 999, 1005 n.8 (8th Cir. 1999) (finding that commissioners may not be sued in their individual capacities under Title II of the ADA because it affords disabled individuals redress for discrimination by a "public entity" and that term, as it is defined within the statute, does not include individuals.); Shebby v. Adams, No. 03-06487, 2007 WL 1302744, at *8 (E.D.Cal. May 2, 2007) (individuals cannot be personally sued under Title II of the ADA); Calloway v. Boro of Glassboro Dep't of Police, 89 F. Supp. 2d 543, 557 (D.N.J. 2000) (individual defendants cannot be held liable for violations of Title II of the ADA and § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act); Montez v. Romer, 32 F. Supp. 2d 1235, 1240-41 (D.Colo. 1999) (defendants in their individual capacities are not properly subject to suit under Title II of the ADA.). Thus, it is abundantly clear that Ms. Merriwether cannot be held liable in her personal capacity under Title II of the ADA. Accordingly, the plaintiff has failed to state an ADA claim against Ms. Merriwether upon which relief may be granted.*fn8
For the reasons set forth above, the defendant's motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) must be Granted. Accordingly, this action must be dismissed.*fn9