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Taylor v. Delaware Board of Parole

United States District Court, D. Delaware

April 26, 2017




         Plaintiff Richard M. Taylor ("Taylor") sued the Delaware Board of Parole ("Board") for monetary damages, alleging violations of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. ("ADA") (Count I) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq. ("Rehabilitation Act") (Count II).[1] (D.I. 56.) The court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

         Presently before the court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Third Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (D.I. 59, 60.) For the reasons stated below, the court will grant the Board's motion to dismiss.


         Mr. Taylor was an inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center ("JTVCC") in Smyrna, Delaware, until May 16, 2016, when he was released on parole. (D.I. 56 ¶ 3.) While Taylor was incarcerated, the Department of Veterans Affairs ("VA") diagnosed him with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ("PTSD") and PTSD-related substance abuse. (D.I. 56 ¶¶ 24-28.) Taylor alleges that he did not began receiving the necessary treatment for PTSD until he was released on parole. (Id. at ¶ 31-36.) Taylor alleges that the Board discriminated against him during his parole determination on the basis of his PTSD disability. (D.I. 56 ¶¶ 40, 41, 46, 47.)

         The procedural posture of the case prior to Taylor's parole is relevant for this motion. On September 7, 2012, Taylor filed a Complaint, pro se, seeking injunctive relief naming David Henderson ("Henderson"), Delaware Board of Parole Chairman, as the defendant. (D.I. 1). On March 5, 2013, Henderson filed a Motion to Dismiss Taylor's Complaint under Rule of 12(b)(6) (D.I. 7.) On March 24, 2014, the court denied Henderson's Motion to Dismiss without prejudice to renew and granted Taylor leave to amend. (D.I. 15.) On April 16, 2014, Taylor filed an Amended Complaint (D.I. 16.) On May 16, 2014, Henderson filed a Motion to Dismiss. (D.I. 17.) In response, Taylor filed a Motion for Leave to Amend with a Second Amended Complaint attached, on January 21, 2015. (D.I. 26.) On January 30, 2015, the court granted Henderson's Motion to Dismiss, finding Taylor's claims barred on statute of limitations grounds, and addressed Taylor's proposed Second Amended Complaint which sought monetary damages. (D.I. 27, 28.) On appeal, the Third Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings.[2] (D.I. 36.)

         Taylor is now represented by counsel.[3] On November 21, 2016, Taylor filed a Third Amended Complaint. (D.I. 56.) The Third Amended Complaint substituted the Board for Henderson and seeks to hold the Board liable for monetary damages.


         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes dismissal where the plaintiff "fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In considering a motion to dismiss, the court "accept[s] all factual allegations as true, construe[s] the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine[s] whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008). The issue for the court is "not whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). As such, the touchstone of the pleading standard is plausibility. Bistrian v. Levi, 696 F.3d 352, 365 (3d Cir. 2012). Plaintiffs must provide sufficient factual allegations "to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will... be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).


         The Board argues that each of Taylor's two Counts should be dismissed for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). The Board seeks dismissal of the Rehabilitation Act claim because the Board does not receive federal funding and Taylor has not alleged such facts. (D.I. 60 at 2.) In his Answering Brief in Opposition, Taylor withdrew Count II-the Rehabilitation Act claim- without prejudice to seek leave to add the claim if further investigation reveals the requisite funding. (D.I. 63 at 1 n.l.) As a result, the only claim remaining is Count I against the Board alleging violation of Title II of the ADA.

         The Board asserts that the ADA claim is barred on the following grounds: (1) the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution bars the ADA claim; (2) failure to plead a plausible disability discrimination claim; (3) the statute of limitations bars the damages claim and it does not relate back; (4) judicial estoppelbars the damages claim; (5) Taylor's claim for damages is barred as an impermissible collateral attack. The court will assess each argument in turn.

         A. Immunity

         The Supreme Court has held that Title II of the ADA validly abrogates sovereign immunity as to state conduct that actually violates the Constitution. See U.S. v. Georgia,546 U.S. 151, 1.59 (2006). To determine whether a plaintiff may sue a State for damages under Title II, a Courtmust: "(1) identify which aspects of the State's alleged conduct violated Title II; (2) Identify to what extent such conduct also violated the Fourteenth Amendment; and (3) insofar as such misconduct violated Title II but did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment, determine whether Congress' purported abrogation of sovereign immunity as to that class of conduct is nevertheless valid." Bowers v. National Collegiate Athletic Ass 'n,475 F.3d 524, 553 (3d Cir. 2007). The court believes Judge Stark's analysis in White v. Delaware Bd. of Parole, No. 11-386-LPS, 2012 WL 2126920, at *1 (D. Del. June 8, 2012) is instructive. In White, ...

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