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Moland v. Explosive Countermeasures International, Inc.

United States District Court, District of Columbia

May 21, 2019



          RUDOLPH CONTRERAS United States District Judge


         Plaintiff William Moland brought this eighteen-claim suit against his former employer, Explosive Countermeasures International, Inc. (“Explosive Countermeasures”), and Megan Kelley, Explosive Countermeasures' Managing Director (collectively, “ECI”), for discrimination and retaliation he allegedly suffered both while employed at ECI and after his termination. Moland alleges that ECI discriminated and retaliated against him on the basis of his disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 1201-12213, discriminated against him on the basis of his prior military service, in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”), 38 U.S.C. §§ 4301-4335, and retaliated against him for filing a complaint with the Department of Labor, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-19. Moland also brings several claims under the District of Columbia Human Rights Act (“DCHRA”), D.C. Code §§ 2-1401-1404.

         ECI has now filed a motion to transfer venue to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, while Moland moves to amend his complaint in his opposition to the motion for transfer. Although the Court finds that the District of Columbia is a proper venue for most of Moland's ADA claims, it also finds that this district is an improper venue for Moland's USERRA claims, FLSA claims, and one of his ADA claims. Because the Eastern District of Virginia provides a proper venue for all of Moland's federal claims, the Court grants ECI's motion to transfer the case to that district. And because Moland's motion to amend fails to comply with its Local Rules, the Court denies that motion.


         Moland is a Maryland resident with extensive prior military service. Compl. ¶¶ 6, 12-15. Moland served as a canine handler both in the United States Air Force between 1993 and 1997 and in the United States Navy between 2001 and 2008. Id. ¶¶ 12-15. While deployed in Afghanistan for the Navy, he was injured when an improvised explosive device (“IED”) exploded in close proximity to him. Id. ¶ 19. The explosion left him with significant damage to his right knee and back, “imped[ing] and impair[ing] his ability to move, stand, and walk/run long distances” and causing him to “walk[] with a limp and experience[] pain in his leg and back after prolonged periods of walking, running, or being on his feet.” Id. ¶ 20. After his service, Moland worked as a government contractor in Afghanistan, where he was injured a second time by another IED explosion. Id. ¶ 23-25. The second explosion worsened Moland's knee and back injuries. Id. ¶ 25.

         Between November 2015 and May 2016, Moland was employed as a government contractor by American K-9 Detection Services, LLC. (“AMK9”), and worked as a canine handler at an Internal Revenue Service's (“IRS”) building in New Carrolton, Maryland. Id. ¶¶ 28, 29. In May 2016, AMK9's contract to provide bomb detection services at the IRS building was acquired by Explosive Countermeasures, a Virginia-based company that provides bomb detection and prevention services in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. Id. ¶¶ 7, 31. Kelley, Explosive Countermeasures's Managing Director and also a Virginia resident, id. ¶ 8, contacted Moland the same month to inform him that the company would let him continue in his role as a canine handler at the IRS building, id. ¶¶ 33, 36.

         Moland alleges that Kelley had a “negative, discriminatory attitude and animus towards disabled veterans and service members who had been previously deployed.” Id. ¶ 42. In a phone conversation between Moland and Kelley in the fall of 2016, after Moland had recommended that Kelley hire a veteran who wore a prosthesis, Kelley allegedly stated that “she would not hire [the veteran] or any other former service member who had been previously deployed because they ‘were all messed up in some way.'” Id. ¶¶ 38-40. At the end of 2016, Moland alleges that he did not receive a year-end bonus because he was a veteran. Id. ¶ 51.

         In January 2017, Moland was reassigned from the New Carrolton IRS building to another worksite in West Virginia. Id. ¶ 52. Moland alleges that, following the move, ECI failed to pay him wages for his training and commuting time or to reimburse him for expenses he made to care for his service canine and maintain his service vehicle. Id. ¶ 53. As a result, he filed a complaint with the Department of Labor (“DOL”) regarding the wages and reimbursements he believed he was owed. Id. ¶ 54. After Kelley was given notice of the ensuing DOL investigation, she “became upset with Mr. Moland for having filed a complaint, ” id. ¶ 56, and reassigned him to work at the Kennedy Center in the District of Columbia in February 2017, id. ¶ 57.

         During his training for the position at the Kennedy Center, Moland learned that the position would require him to constantly be on his feet and to walk over eight miles a day without a break, an impossible task given his knee and back injuries. Id. ¶ 58. Moland asked that Kelley accommodate his disability by reassigning him to work at another worksite where he would not have to walk or stand for extended periods of time, such as his previous assignment at the IRS building, id. ¶ 63, or by allowing him to take breaks while at the Kennedy Center worksite, e.g., id. ¶¶ 65, 250.

         After two months without any follow-up, Kelley eventually gave Moland a medical questionnaire for his physician to complete so that she could make a decision regarding the requested accommodation. Id. ¶ 67. In May 2017, upon learning that DOL had asked Moland to appear for an interview regarding ECI's failure to pay wages and reimbursements, Kelley called him and “attempted to intimidate him in advance of his interview.” Id. ¶¶ 68-69. Shortly after receiving Moland's completed medical questionnaire, which stated that Moland could fully perform his duties if given an accommodation to rest for a limited period of time, Kelley informed him that ECI could not accommodate his disability. Id. ¶¶ 71, 73. On May 16, 2017, Kelley terminated Moland's employment with Explosive Countermeasures. Id. ¶ 76.

         On November 8, 2017, Moland filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “alleging unlawful disability-based discrimination, unlawful failure to accommodate his known disability, and unlawful retaliation.” Id. ¶ 79. Even after his termination, Moland alleges that ECI continued to retaliate against him by impeding his ability to gain employment with the federal government. Id. ¶¶ 80-87. Moland asserts that Kelley made statements to investigators conducing a background check for a position he had applied for at the Department of State in “bad faith, [and] knowing falsity.” Id. ¶¶ 82-84. Moland alleges that Kelley subsequently provided another negative reference for a Department of Defense position to which he applied. Id. ¶¶ 86-87.

         On September 28, 2018, Moland brought suit for discrimination on the basis of disability and military status, and both retaliatory termination and post-termination retaliation for engaging in activity protected by the ADA and FLSA. See Compl. On November 12, 2018, ECI moved to transfer the case to the Eastern District of Virginia, claiming that venue in this district is improper. See Defs.' Mot. Transfer, ECF No. 3. Moland filed his opposition on November 26, 2018, Pl.'s Opp'n, ECF No. 5, and ECI filed a reply on December 3, 2018, Defs.' Reply, ECF No. 6.


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) instructs a district court to dismiss or transfer a case when venue is improper. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(3). When considering such a motion, the Court “accepts the plaintiff's well-pled factual allegations regarding venue as true, . . . [and] draws all reasonable inferences from those allegations in the plaintiff's favor.” James v. Booz-Allen, 227 F.Supp.2d 16, 20 (citing 2215 Fifth Street Assocs v. U-Haul Int'l Inc., 148 F.Supp.2d 50, 54 (D.D.C. 2001)). “To prevail on a motion to dismiss for improper venue . . . ‘the defendant must present facts that will defeat the plaintiff's assertion of venue.'” Ananiev v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 968 F.Supp.2d 123, 129 (D.D.C. 2013) (quoting Slaby v. Holder, 901 F.Supp.2d 129, 132 (D.D.C. 2012)). The burden, however, remains on the ...

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