United States District Court, District of Columbia
ROSEMARY M. COLLYER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) moves-just before
the fourth rescheduled trial date, in a case that has been
pending since 2013, and over a year after the Court entered
its order on DCPS's Motion for Summary Judgment-to
dismiss the sole remaining claim as moot because Plaintiff
Camilla Younger is not entitled to any compensatory damages
on the remaining claim. DCPS argues that Ms. Younger is only
entitled to a jury trial if she has a claim for damages.
facts have been laid out in detail in three prior opinions in
this case and will only be briefly summarized here. See
Younger v. DCPS (Younger I), 60 F.Supp.3d 130 (D.D.C. 2014);
Younger v. DCPS (Younger II), No. 13-1296, 2017 WL 3129733
(D.D.C. July 21, 2017); Younger v. DCPS (Younger III), No.
13-1296, 2018 WL 3995875 (D.D.C. Aug. 21, 2018). Ms. Younger
served DCPS as a dual-certified art teacher and attendance
officer from 1992 to 2010. Due to physical altercations that
occurred while she was teaching at Woodson Ninth Grade
Academy, a DCPS school, Ms. Younger took extended leave in
early October 2009 and stopped reporting for work at the
Academy; however, she continued to teach at Roosevelt STAY,
another DCPS school, during the evening. Ms. Younger did not
return to the Woodson Ninth Grade Academy for the remainder
of the 2009-2010 school year.
the summer of 2010, Ms. Younger applied and was interviewed
for a part-time position as an art teacher at the Youth
Engagement Academy, a DCPS school. Ms. Younger alleges that
after her interview with Principal Tanisha Williams-Minor of
the Youth Engagement Academy, she was offered a part-time
position as art teacher there. Ms. Younger further alleges
that Principal Williams-Minor withdrew the transfer offer
after she learned Ms. Younger's age. DCPS argues that Ms.
Younger was never offered a position at the Youth Engagement
August 16, 2010, Ms. Younger received a notice of termination
from the Director of Labor Management and Employee Relations
at DCPS, which stated that she would be terminated effective
August 27, 2010. See Ex. 6, Mot. for Summ. J., Notice of
Termination [Dkt. 58-1].
than her claim of age discrimination in the failure to
transfer her to the Youth Engagement Academy, all of Ms.
Younger's claims have been dismissed. See Younger I, 60
F.Supp.3d 130; Younger II, 2017 WL 3129733. This matter was
initially scheduled for trial in January 2018 and was
continued four times at the parties' various requests
until it was set for trial on September 11, 2018. After
briefing on DCPS's Motion in Limine, the Court issued a
Memorandum Opinion and Order on August 21, 2018 and held that
Ms. Younger is not entitled to compensatory damages for any
violation of her rights that may be found on the failure to
transfer. See Younger III, 2018 WL 3995875.
now moves to dismiss this last remaining claim as moot
because no damages are available. See Def. District of
Columbia's Trial Br. [Dkt. 89]. Ms. Younger expressed her
opposition in open court and filed an opposition, which will
be filed on the docket. The motion is ripe for review.
II concluded that genuine disputes of material facts
prevented a ruling on the papers concerning the denial of Ms.
Younger's requested transfer and DCPS's motion for
summary judgment was denied on that claim. See Younger II,
2017 WL 3129733. Younger III held that Ms. Younger was not
entitled to compensatory damages even if she prevailed at
trial on her failure to transfer claim. See Younger III, 2018
WL 3995875. DCPS now moves for the Court to find that this
remaining claim is moot because Ms. Younger is not entitled
to damages and, therefore, is not entitled to a jury trial.
cites a few cases for the proposition that an Age
Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. § 621
et seq. (2012), claim is mooted when a plaintiff has no
compensatory damages. The Court finds that none are
dispositive of Ms. Younger's right to a trial. For
instance, McLaren v. Emory Univ., 705 F.Supp. 563 (N.D.Ga.
1988), held that the plaintiff, who suffered no lost wages
from the alleged discrimination, was not entitled to recover
“damages in lieu of liquidated damages” and,
therefore, was not entitled to a jury trial. Id. at
568; see also 29 U.S.C. § 626(c)(2) (“[A] person
shall be entitled to a trial by jury of any issue of fact in
any such action for recovery of amounts owing as a result of
a violation of [ADEA], regardless of whether equitable relief
is sought by any party in such action.”). The McLaren
court reasoned that because ADEA does not permit damages for
non-pecuniary losses, such as pain and suffering, the
plaintiff could not be awarded some other amount of damages
in lieu of liquidated damages. McLaren, 705 F.Supp. at
566-67; see also Comm'r of Internal Revenue v. Schleier,
515 U.S. 323, 325-26 (1995) (“ADEA does not permit a
separate recovery of compensatory damages for pain and
suffering or emotional distress.”). Additionally,
McLaren found that permitting other non-pecuniary damages
would “[d]estroy the incentive to conciliate”
because employers could not predict a possible loss amount at
trial. McLaren, 705 F.Supp. at 567.
Court agrees that an ADEA plaintiff is not entitled to
non-pecuniary compensatory damages, but clearly, equitable
damages are available, such as declaratory judgment, a
verdict, or nominal money damages. See Schleier, 515 U.S. at
326; 29 U.S.C. § 626(c)(2). However, the Court does not
agree that such an award would destroy the parties'
incentives to conciliate. Assuming an employer knows the
total backpay potentially owed to a plaintiff, the
possibility of an additional “nominal” amount of
damages being awarded would not alter the incentives to reach
a settlement agreement. McLaren does not stand for the
proposition that without money damages a plaintiff is not
entitled to any trial or that her claim is mooted, but only
holds that such a plaintiff is not entitled to a trial by
also cites Johnson v. District of Columbia, an unpublished
2017 decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia Circuit. 688 Fed.Appx. 4 (D.C. Cir.
2017). DCPS argues that Johnson decided that an ADEA claim is
mooted when no damages are available. The Circuit found,
however, that a plaintiff's claim was not mooted when
“additional remedies” were available,
“including, for example, liquidated damages.”
Id. at 7. The Circuit did not list all the potential
“additional remedies” that might be available and
did not specifically address the availability of a favorable
verdict or nominal damages. The Circuit also did not address
the possibility of a bench trial in instances where no
amounts are owed, which appears to be contemplated by the
states that a plaintiff is entitled to a jury trial when
there are “amounts owing.” 29 U.S.C. §
626(c)(2). Nominal damages are not “amounts
owing” because they are awarded only when a plaintiff
has no actual damages. As this Court previously held, Ms.
Younger is not owed any amounts of back pay; therefore, she
is not entitled to a jury trial, but ...