Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Johnson v. West Virginia Division of Rehabilitative Services

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Huntington Division

April 17, 2017

EUGENE M. JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
WEST VIRGINIA DIVISION OF REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ROBERT C. CHAMBERS, CHIEF JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 18) pursuant to Federal Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Defendant filed an Answer (ECF No. 15) and an Amended Answer (ECF No. 17) with the Court before filing the instant motion. According to the Federal Rules, a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction or for failure to state a claim “must be made before pleading if a responsive pleading is allowed.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b). Therefore, the Court converts Defendant's motion to dismiss to a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule 12(c). Moreover, “if the court determines at any time that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). The Court, thus, has considered the motion in full.

         For the following reasons, the Court finds that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this case because Plaintiff has failed to exhaust administrative remedies required by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion (ECF No. 18) and DISMISSES the case without prejudice.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff brings this suit to allege disability discrimination against Defendant as Plaintiff's former employer. Defendant hired Plaintiff as a Rehabilitation Counselor in 2013 to work in the Huntington District Office. See Pl.'s Compl., ECF No. 2, at ¶ 3. Prior to working, Plaintiff was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, migraine headaches, and depression. Id. at ¶ 7. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant had notice of this disability status prior to his hiring because Plaintiff received services from the Huntington District Office as one of Defendant's clients. Id. at ¶¶ 8-9. The complaint references a Right to Sue Letter issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and dated August 24, 2015 to justify bringing this case to federal court. Id. at ¶ 13.

         Plaintiff alleges five different causes of action against Defendant that involve separate instances of alleged discrimination. Plaintiff identifies that each count explains a violation of Title VII and the ADA. Count I specifies that one week after hiring Plaintiff, Defendant terminated services that Plaintiff relied upon as a client, including funding and supportive services to obtain a license as a Licensed Practicing Counselor. Id. at ¶ 15. The elimination of these services allegedly impacted Plaintiff's chance to advance in his career. Id. at ¶ 16. Count II alleges that Defendant transferred Plaintiff's assistant to another physical location in 2014, which put Plaintiff at a disadvantage in performing his job functions. Id. at ¶ 19. Count III explains that Defendant required Plaintiff to conduct all interactions with his assistant via email starting in June of 2014, which caused Plaintiff difficulties because of his dyslexia. Id. at ¶ 22. Plaintiff asserts that the other rehabilitation counselors did not have to follow these same communication requirements. Id. at ¶ 24. Count IV addresses Plaintiff's denied request to transfer to another one of Defendant's facilities, which Plaintiff argues would serve as a reasonable accommodation. Id. at ¶¶ 28, 32. Due to stress from Defendant's allegedly retaliatory actions, Plaintiff was diagnosed in November of 2014 with panic attacks and neurological migraine headaches. Id. at ¶ 27. Plaintiff's doctor recommended that Plaintiff transfer to another facility to lessen the frequency of these ailments. Id. Plaintiff argues that Defendant allowed transfers for other employees but denied Plaintiff's request citing company policy. Id. at ¶ 30. Lastly, Count V challenges Plaintiff's termination, alleging that Defendant fired Plaintiff for his disability rather than provide a reasonable accommodation. Id. at ¶ 37. In the prayer for relief, Plaintiff requests compensatory and punitive damages for these alleged violations of Title VII and the ADA.

         II. Legal Standard

         Defendant's motion raises questions regarding both the subject matter jurisdiction of the Court and the sufficiency of Plaintiff's pleading in his complaint. A court must first address whether the court has jurisdiction before judging Plaintiff's allegations on the merits of the case.

         a. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         It is axiomatic that a court must have subject matter jurisdiction over a controversy before it can render any decision on the merits. A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) raises the fundamental question of whether a court is competent to hear and adjudicate the claims brought before it and requires dismissal if the court lacks such jurisdiction. Federal courts possess “only the jurisdiction authorized them by the United States Constitution and by federal statute.” United States ex rel. Vuyyuru v. Jadhav, 555 F.3d 337, 347 (4th Cir. 2009). Rule 12(b)(1) permits a party to move for dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In such cases, the plaintiff has the burden of establishing a factual basis for jurisdiction. See Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992); Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991). In ruling on a 12(b)(1) motion, the court may consider the pleadings' allegations as jurisdictional evidence. Id.

         Challenges to jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) may be raised in two distinct ways: “facial attacks” and “factual attacks.” Thigpen v. United States, 800 F.2d 393, 401 n.15 (4th Cir. 1986), rejected on other grounds by Sheridan v. United States, 487 U.S. 392 (1988). A “facial attack” questions whether the complaint's allegations are sufficient “to sustain the court's jurisdiction.” Id. If a “facial attack” is made, the court must accept the complaint's allegations as true and decide if the complaint is sufficient to confer subject matter jurisdiction. Id. On the other hand, a “factual attack” challenges the truthfulness of the factual allegations in the complaint upon which subject matter jurisdiction is based. Id. In this situation, a “district court is to regard the pleadings' allegations as mere evidence on the issue, and may consider evidence outside the pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment.” Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co., 945 F.2d at 768 (citations omitted). To prevent dismissal, “the nonmoving party must set forth specific facts beyond the pleadings to show that a genuine issue of material fact exists.” Id. (citation omitted). A dismissal should only be granted in those instances in which “the material jurisdictional facts are not in dispute and the moving party is entitled to prevail as a matter of law.” Id. (citation omitted).

         b. Judgment on the Pleadings Standard

         In analyzing a party's motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule 12(c), the Fourth Circuit has indicated that the applicable standard is the same as a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule 12(b)(6), noting that the “distinction is one without a difference.” Burbach Broad Co. of Del. v. Elkins Radio Corp., 278 F.3d 401, 405-06 (4th Cir. 2002). To overcome a motion for judgment on the pleadings, a complaint must be plausible. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 546 (2007). This standard requires a plaintiff to set forth the “grounds” for an “entitle[ment] to relief” that is more than mere “labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. at 555 (internal quotations and citations omitted). A complaint must contain “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotations and citation omitted). Facial plausibility exists when a claim contains “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citation omitted).

         Accepting the factual allegations in the complaint as true (even when doubtful), the allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level ….” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). If the allegations in the complaint, assuming their truth, do “not raise a claim of entitlement to relief, this basic deficiency should … be exposed at the point of minimum expenditure of time and money by the parties and the court.” Id. at 558 (internal quotations and citations omitted). Finally, “[a]lthough for the purposes of a motion [for judgment on the pleadings] we must take all of the factual allegations in ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.