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Slaby v. Holder

United States District Court, District of Columbia

November 4, 2012

Justin SLABY, Plaintiff,
v.
Eric H. HOLDER, Jr., in his official capacity as Attorney General, Defendant.

Page 130

Katherine L. Butler, Butler & Harris, Houston, TX, David Robert Cashdan, Cashdan & Kane, PLLC, Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.

Heather D. Graham-Oliver, U.S. Attorney's Office, Washington, DC, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

BERYL A. HOWELL, District Judge.

The plaintiff, Justin Slaby, brings this lawsuit for disability discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 791 et seq., stemming from his disqualification as a New Agent Trainee at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (" FBI" ) Academy in Quantico, Virginia. See Complaint (" Compl." ), ECF No. 1. The plaintiff claims that the FBI refused to consider reasonable accommodations necessitated by the plaintiffs' use of a prosthesis for his left hand, which was amputated following

Page 131

injuries he sustained as an Army Ranger. Compl. ¶¶ 5, 14. The plaintiff also claims that " [i]nstead of welcoming a veteran whose injury occurred because a grenade detonated prematurely, the FBI instructors at the academy in Quantico responded to his presence with incredible hostility and abject disrespect." Id. at 2. Pending before the Court is a motion by the defendant, the U.S. Department of Justice, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3), to dismiss this action for improper venue or, alternatively, to transfer the case to the Eastern District of Virginia. See ECF No. 7. For the reasons set forth below, this motion will be granted in part and denied in part, and this case will be transferred to the Eastern District of Virginia.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The plaintiff served in the U.S. Army in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Compl. at 1. In the summer of 2004, " a defective flash bang (a stun grenade variant) prematurely detonated in his left hand. As a result, what remained of his left hand had to be amputated," Compl. ¶ 5, and, after that, he used a prosthesis in place of his left hand, see id. ¶¶ 9-10.

The plaintiff " had always dreamed of becoming an FBI agent," and, after leaving the Army in 2005, he worked full-time, went to college at night, and trained so that he would be " capable of performing the job" of FBI Special Agent. Id. ¶¶ 6-8. After earning his college degree, the plaintiff was ultimately offered a position as a Special Agent in 2009. Id. ¶ 9.

The plaintiff " report[ed] for duty on January 30, 2011 for basic training." Id. During his training in Quantico, Virginia, the plaintiff alleges that, because of his prosthetic hand, he was, inter alia, " treated by the training staff as an outsider," and he alone was " required to engage in an extensive set of ‘ Assessments,’ " as well as trainings, and meetings above and beyond what other trainees were required to complete. Id. ¶¶ 10, 11.

According to the plaintiff, " [t]he FBI accused Slaby of being unable to fire with his left hand unsupported" and although " Slaby developed a technique to shoot five rounds with his non-dominant hand," the " FBI told him that it did not approve of the manner in which he could shoot with his left hand, and ordered him to shoot only with his right hand." Id. ¶¶ 12, 13. The plaintiff claims that " [h]e was very proficient at that task, but immediately after the class was over, the FBI informed [him] that he was being dropped as a Special Agent because of his disability, a damaged left hand that does not interfere in his ability to perform the essential functions of the job." Id. ¶ 13.

The plaintiff alleges that he asked the FBI to reconsider its decision, and has exhausted his remedies. Id. ¶¶ 16-18. The plaintiff also states that " [n]either [the plaintiff] nor his counsel ever received a final decision on his complaint, and more than 180 days have passed since the complaint was filed." Id. ¶ 18.

The plaintiff subsequently filed his one-count Complaint in this Court alleging violations of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Id. ¶ 19 (Count I). The defendant then filed Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for Improper Venue Or, Alternatively, to Transfer to the Eastern District of Virginia, ECF No. 7 (" Def.'s Mot." ), arguing that the " [p]laintiff has failed to lay venue in accordance with the special venue provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3) applicable to actions such as this one arising under the Rehabilitation Act." ...


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