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Dave v. Lanier

March 27, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Document Nos.: 2, 5




This matter comes before the court on the defendant's motion to dismiss.*fn1 The plaintiff, a former cadet at the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department Institute of Police Science ("IPS"), alleges discrimination and retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq.; the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 791 et seq.; and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. The defendant, the District of Columbia, moves to dismiss the ADA and Rehabilitation Act claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to sufficiently state a claim of disability discrimination. The defendant further moves to dismiss the Title VII retaliation claim under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. In light of recent changes to the ADA, the court orders further briefing on the plaintiff's ADA and Rehabilitation Act claims. And because, at this stage in the proceedings, the plaintiff has sufficiently pled his Title VII retaliation claim, the court denies the defendant's motion to dismiss as to this claim.


The plaintiff, an Indian American male, was a cadet at IPS from September 2004 until September 2006. Compl. ¶¶ 5, 6. The plaintiff alleges that during a training exercise in November 2004, a trainer of Hispanic descent pushed him down a hill, causing injury to his shoulder. Id. ¶ 6. Believing that the trainer's conduct was motivated by discriminatory animus, the plaintiff complained about the incident to the defendant. Id. Following the incident, the plaintiff was placed on limited duty or sick leave for five months to receive treatment for his shoulder, which included Cortisone shots but no surgery. Id.

The plaintiff alleges that after he returned to work, the defendant retaliated against him for reporting the incident. Id. ¶ 7. The alleged retaliation included giving him only academic work supplemented by physical training, training him with a lower-level class, making sarcastic remarks about his abilities and withholding specialized training necessary for graduation from IPS. Id. As a result of the repetitious physical training, the plaintiff developed asthma, resulting in an additional one to two months of sick leave. Id. While cadets normally graduate from the academy in six months, the plaintiff spent two years at the academy and did not graduate. Id. ¶ 8. In September 2006, the defendant issued the plaintiff a letter of termination from IPS. Id. ¶ 9. After his termination, the plaintiff filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), which subsequently issued him a right to sue letter. Id. ¶ 10. The plaintiff filed the instant complaint on May 19, 2008. See generally Compl. The defendant has moved to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff fails to sufficiently plead any of his claims. See generally Def.'s Mot. The plaintiff opposes the motion. See generally Pl.'s Opp'n. The court now turns to the parties' arguments.


A. Legal Standard for Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir. 2002). The complaint need only set forth a short and plain statement of the claim, giving the defendant fair notice of the claim and the grounds upon which it rests. Kingman Park Civic Ass'n v. Williams, 348 F.3d 1033, 1040 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (citing FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2) and Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). "Such simplified notice pleading is made possible by the liberal opportunity for discovery and the other pre-trial procedures established by the Rules to disclose more precisely the basis of both claim and defense to define more narrowly the disputed facts and issues." Conley, 355 U.S. at 47-48 (internal quotation marks omitted). It is not necessary for the plaintiff to plead all elements of his prima facie case in the complaint, Swierkiewicz v. Sonoma N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 511-14 (2002), or "plead law or match facts to every element of a legal theory," Krieger v. Fadely, 211 F.3d 134, 136 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

Yet, the plaintiff must allege "any set of facts consistent with the allegations." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1969 (2007) (abrogating the oft-quoted language from Conley, 355 U.S. at 45-56, instructing courts not to dismiss for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that "no set of facts in support of his claim [] would entitle him to relief"); Aktieselskabet AF 21. Nov. 2001 v. Fame Jeans, Inc., 525 F.3d 8, 16 n.4 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (affirming that "a complaint needs some information about the circumstances giving rise to the claims"). While these facts must "possess enough heft to 'sho[w] that the pleader is entitled to relief,'" a complaint "does not need detailed factual allegations." Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1964, 1966. In resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must treat the complaint's factual allegations -- including mixed questions of law and fact -- as true and draw all reasonable inferences therefrom in the plaintiff's favor. Macharia v. United States, 334 F.3d 61, 64, 67 (D.C. Cir. 2003); Holy Land Found. for Relief & Dev. v. Ashcroft, 333 F.3d 156, 165 (D.C. Cir. 2003); Browning, 292 F.3d at 242. While many well-pleaded complaints are conclusory, the court need not accept as true inferences unsupported by facts set out in the complaint or legal conclusions cast as factual allegations. Warren v. District of Columbia, 353 F.3d 36, 40 (D.C. Cir. 2004); Browning, 292 F.3d at 242.

B. The Court Orders Further Briefing on the ADA and Rehabilitation Act Claims

In September 2008, Congress passed the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 ("the Act"), which establishes that past Supreme Court decisions have too narrowly defined "the broad scope of protection intended to be afforded by the ADA." Pub. L. No. 110-25, 122 Stat. 3553 (effective Jan. 1, 2009). More specifically, the Act expressly disavows the Supreme Court's interpretation of the ADA in two leading cases, Sutton v. United Air Lines, Inc., 527 U.S. 471 (1999) and Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. v. Williams, 534 U.S. 184 (2002). Id. (determining that Toyota Motor Manufacturing established a more limited interpretation of "substantially limits" and "major life activity" than Congress intended and that Sutton too narrowly limited the interpretation of "regarded as" disabled and improperly weighed the impact of mitigating measures on the determination of whether an individual ...

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