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Abdus-Sabur v. Hope Village, Inc.

United States District Court, District of Columbia

December 22, 2016

JASON ABDUS-SABUR, Plaintiff,
v.
HOPE VILLAGE, INC., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          REGGIE B. WALTON United States District Judge

         The plaintiff, Jason Abdus-Sabur, “an individual who lacks any functionality in his lower extremities[, ] has limited use of his upper extremities, [and] is confined to a wheelchair, ” First Amended Complaint (“Compl.”) ¶ 1, brought this action against the defendants, Hope Village, Inc. (“Hope Village”), the Corrections Corporation of America (“CCA”), and the District of Columbia (the “District”), asserting violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-34 (2012), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (2012), the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601, and the District of Columbia's Human Rights Act (“Human Rights Act”), D.C. Code § 2-1401.01 (2015), id. ¶ 3. Currently pending before the Court are Defendant Corrections Corporation of America's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (“CCA's Mot.”), ECF No. 22, and Defendant Hope Village's Motion to Dismiss First Amended Complaint (“Hope Village's Mot.”), ECF No. 24, both seeking dismissal of the First Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (“Rule 12(b)(6)”). Upon careful consideration of the parties' submissions, and for the reasons that follow, the Court will grant both the CCA's and Hope Village's motions to dismiss the plaintiff's claims against them.[1]

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following factual background is asserted in the plaintiff's First Amended Complaint. In 2011, the plaintiff, “a quadriplegic who requires a wheelchair to move and live as independently as possible, ” Compl. ¶ 12, was sentenced “to a prison term of seventy (70) months for a non-violent offense, ” and was placed in two Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) “facilities, first in Rochester, Minnesota, and later in Springfield, Missouri, ” id. ¶ 13. When the plaintiff “became eligible for pre-release placement in a halfway house” in 2014, “he requested such a placement . . . because he desired to live in a residential neighborhood, where he could adjust to living with a disability outside of the institutional context, learn to do everyday activities for himself, and secure a job as well as housing.” Id. ¶ 16. “In or prior to August 2014, the BOP referred [the plaintiff] for pre-release placement at Hope Village, a halfway house in the District of Columbia, ” id. ¶ 17, that is “a privately-owned corporation that contracts with” the BOP, id. ¶ 18, “for the last several months of [the plaintiff's] prison term, ” id. ¶ 17. Hope Village accepted the plaintiff for a five month residency. See id. ¶¶ 1, 17.

         “Upon his arrival at Hope Village, [the plaintiff] was assigned to live in one of the apartment units . . . that was designed to be accessible for people who use wheelchairs.” Id. ¶ 27.

         However, the shower in the plaintiff's apartment unit

had an architectural barrier [that] restrict[ed the plaintiff's] access to the shower and creat[ed] a substantial risk of injury. That is, the threshold to the shower had a lip or a short stair-like barrier that precluded [the plaintiff] from maneuvering his wheelchair into the shower so that he could transfer safely from his wheel chair to the shower bench.

Id. Because of this architectural barrier, the plaintiff “fell on two occasions while transferring from the shower of his residential unit back into his wheelchair, and required medical treatment for the injuries he suffered.” Id. ¶ 28. On September 5, 2014, the plaintiff was transferred to the Correctional Treatment Facility in the southeast quadrant of the District of Columbia, where he remained “until January 30, 2015, when he was discharged from custody.” Id. ¶ 29.

         While at the Correctional Treatment Facility, the plaintiff “was forced to utilize unsafe shower and toilet facilities [and] fell on approximately sixteen (16) separate occasions . . . while trying to either use the restroom or take a shower.” Id. ¶ 36. “After several of his falls, [the plaintiff] told . . . [the Correctional Treatment Facility] that he would be able to shower more safely if the facility had better equipment, such as a waterproof wheelchair . . . .” Id. ¶ 42. The Correctional Treatment Facility did not provide the requested “reasonable accommodations so that [the plaintiff] would not continue to suffer physical injuries and humiliation.” Id. ¶ 43.

         On January 29, 2016, the plaintiff filed a Complaint against Hope Village, the CCA, and the District of Columbia Department of Corrections, alleging disability discrimination in violation of the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the Human Rights Act. Id. ¶¶ 1, 4. On March 2, 2016, each of the defendants moved to dismiss the plaintiff's original complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). See generally Defendant Hope Village's Motion to Dismiss Complaint (Mar. 2, 2016), ECF No. 16; Defendant Corrections Corporation of America's Motion to Dismiss (Mar. 2, 2016), ECF No. 13; Defendant Department of Corrections' Motion to Dismiss (Mar. 2, 2016), ECF No. 12. In response, on March 21, 2016, the plaintiff amended his Complaint to include additional allegations against defendants CCA and Hope Village, to remove the District of Columbia Department of Corrections as a named defendant, and to assert claims against the District.[2] Defendants Hope Village and the CCA now move again to dismiss the plaintiff's First Amended Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests whether the complaint properly “state[s] a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Rule 8(a) requires only that a complaint provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). But although “detailed factual allegations” are not required, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)), a plaintiff must provide “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation, ” id. Rather, the “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A claim is facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw [a] reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. A complaint alleging “facts [which] are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability . . . ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         “In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must construe the complaint ‘in favor of the plaintiff, who must be granted the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged.'” Hettinga v. United States, 677 F.3d 471, 476 (D.C. Cir. 2012) (quoting Schuler v. United States, 617 F.2d 605, 608 (D.C. Cir. 1979)). However, conclusory allegations are not entitled to an assumption of truth, and even those allegations pleaded with factual support need only be accepted insofar as “they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

         III. ANALYSIS

         In moving to dismiss the plaintiff's First Amended Complaint, defendant CCA argues that the plaintiff's ADA, Rehabilitation Act, and Human Rights Act claims against it should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. CCA's Mot. at 1. Likewise, defendant Hope Village asserts that the plaintiff's Rehabilitation Act, Fair Housing Act, and Human Rights Act claims against it should also be dismissed for the same reason. Hope Village's Mot. at 1. The Court will address each of the defendants' arguments in turn.

         A. The Plaintiff's Claims Against the CCA

          1. The ADA Claim

         The plaintiff predicates his ADA claim against defendant CCA on Title II of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by any “public entity.” See Compl. ¶ 78; see also 42 U.S.C. § 12132 (providing that “no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity”). Defendant CCA contends that the plaintiff's ADA claim “must be dismissed as a matter of law” because it “is not a public entity” under Title II. CCA's Mot. at 4.

         “To state a claim under Title II [of the ADA] a plaintiff must allege: (1) that he is a ‘qualified individual with a disability'; (2) who ‘was either excluded from participation in or denied the benefits of a public entity's services, programs, or activities, or was otherwise discriminated against by the public entity'; and (3) that ‘such exclusion, denial of benefits, or discrimination was by reason of his disability.'” Lee v. Corr. Corp. of Am./Corr. Treatment Facility, 61 F.Supp.3d 139, 142-43 (D.D.C. 2014) (quoting Alston v. District of Columbia, 561 F.Supp.2d 29, 37 (D.D.C. 2008)). In relevant part, the ADA defines “public entity” as “any State or local government, ” and “any department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a State or States or local government.” 42 U.S.C. § 12131(1)(A), (B). And, Title II “applies to public entities that are responsible for the operation or management of adult and juvenile justice jails, detention and correctional facilities, and community correctional facilities, either directly or through contractual, licensing, or other arrangements with public or private entities, in whole or in part, including private correctional facilities.” Lee, 61 F.Supp.3d at 143 (quoting 28 C.F.R. § 35.152(a) (2015)).

         Here, the plaintiff fails to state a claim under Title II of the ADA because “[a]s a private prison company, defendant [CCA] is not covered by Title II of the ADA.” Id. In Lee, another member of this Court dismissed a plaintiff's ADA claim also against the CCA because the ADA “provides no indication that a private company is a ‘public entity' for the purposes of Title II, ” and “while Title II of the ADA covers discrimination taking place in prisons, private prison companies are not directly liable for such violations.” Id. (citations omitted) (footnote omitted) (collecting cases) (“A private contractor does not . . . become liable under Title II merely by contracting with the State to provide governmental services, essential or otherwise.” (quoting Edison v. Douberly, 604 F.3d 1307, 1310 (11th Cir. 2010))). This member of the Court agrees, and therefore, reaches the same conclusion as the Court in Lee. “Because the plaintiff [in this case] fails to allege that he was ‘excluded from participation in or . . . denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or . . . subjected to discrimination by any such entity, ' the Court will dismiss his ADA claim” against defendant CCA. Id. at 144 (alteration in original) (citation omitted).

         2. The ...


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