United States District Court, D. Delaware
filed a two-count First Amended Complaint against Defendant
Debbie Short, "in her [o]fficial [c]apacity only as a
State Human Resources Official." (D.I. 5). In Count I,
Plaintiff claims violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and
discrimination in violation of the Americans with
Disabilities Act ("ADA"). (Id. at 5). In
Count II, Plaintiff claims violations of 42 U.S.C. §
1983 and retaliation in violation of the ADA. (Id.
at 6). Plaintiff seeks "[prospective [i]njunctive
[r]elief reinstating Plaintiff as a Family Court employee in
comparable position and at pay commensurate with the pay
grade at which she was most recently employed."
(Id. at 7). Plaintiff seeks, in the alternative to
reinstatement, "front-pay and front-benefits."
before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the
First Amended Complaint. (D.I. 7). Defendant seeks dismissal
of all claims in Counts I and II for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)
and for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6). (Id. at 2-3). For the reasons
set forth below, Defendant's Motion is GRANTED. Count I
and Count II are DISMISSED.
October 1989, Plaintiff began working for the Family Court in
and for Sussex County, Delaware. (D.I. 5 at ¶ 5).
"At all relevant times, Plaintiff suffered from mild
cerebral palsy, panic disorder, general anxiety disorder, and
major depressive disorder." (Id. at ¶ 6).
In early 2012, Defendant and other management-level employees
became aware of Plaintiff's medical conditions.
(Id. at ¶ 11). On February 8, 2012, Defendant
"instructed Plaintiff to take short-term disability
leave, " and Plaintiff complied. (Id. at
¶¶ 13-15). In July 2012, Plaintiff returned to work
with a physician's note clearing her to work on a
half-day basis. (Id. at ¶¶ 17-18). On
August 3, 2012, Plaintiff provided Defendant with another
physician's note clearing Plaintiff to work a reduced
schedule for sixty days. (Id. at ¶¶
21-22). On the same day, Defendant sent Plaintiff home from
work and Plaintiff was not allowed to return to work.
(Id. at¶¶ 23-24). On August 7, 2012,
Defendant "informed Plaintiff she was terminated."
(Id. at ¶ 25). Defendant "instructed
Plaintiff to take long-term disability until Plaintiff was
eligible for her service pension." (Id.
November 1, 2012, Plaintiff filed a charge for ADA
discrimination and retaliation with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). (Id. at
¶ 29). "[T]he Family Court claimed that it would be
an undue hardship for it to accommodate Plaintiffs half-day
schedule." (Id. at ¶ 30). "The EEOC
concluded that Defendant discriminated and retaliated against
Plaintiff in violation of the [ADA]." (Id. at
¶ 35). The EEOC provided Plaintiff a Right to Sue Notice
dated August 1, 2016. (Id. at ¶ 36).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits the
dismissal of an action for "lack of subject matter
jurisdiction." A Rule 12(b)(1) motion may be treated as
either a facial or factual challenge to the court's
subject matter jurisdiction. Constitution Party v.
Aichele, 757 F.3d 347, 357-58 (3d Cir. 2014). "In
reviewing a facial attack, 'the court must only consider
the allegations of the complaint and documents referenced
therein and attached thereto, in the light most favorable to
the plaintiff.'" Id. at 358 (quoting In
re Schering Plough Corp., 678 F.3d 235, 243 (3d Cir.
2012)). In reviewing a factual attack, the court may consider
evidence outside the pleadings. Mortensen v. First Fed.
Sav. & Loan Ass 'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir.
Defendant argues Counts I and II should be dismissed for lack
of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1). (D.I. 7 at ¶ 6). Since Defendant
relies solely on the pleadings, this is a facial challenge to
the court's subject matter jurisdiction, and only
"the allegations of the complaint and documents
referenced therein and attached thereto, in the light most
favorable to [Plaintiff]" may be considered. Gould
Elecs., Inc. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 176 (3d
to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, "district courts shall have
original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."
Plaintiff argues the Court has jurisdiction over her claims
because the claims arise from violations of the ADA and
§ 1983, whereas Defendant argues that Plaintiffs claims
are barred by the Eleventh Amendment.
sues [Defendant] in her official capacity only, tantamount to
a suit against the State of Delaware itself, pursuant to
Ex parte Young, ... wherein the [Supreme Court]
created the so-called 'legal fiction' that States may
be sued through their officials acting in their
capacity." (D.I. 8 at ¶ 11; see D.I. 5 at
¶ 2). As noted by Defendant, the "Eleventh
Amendment bars all suits in law or equity against a state in
federal court." (D.I. 7 at ¶ 9). "[T]here are
only three narrowly circumscribed exceptions to Eleventh
Amendment immunity: (1) abrogation by Act of Congress, (2)
waiver by state consent to suit; and (3) suits against
individual state officials for prospective relief to remedy
an ongoing violation of federal law." M.A. ex rel
E.S. v. State-Operated Sch. Dist., 344 F.3d 335, 345 (3d
relies solely on the third exception. Plaintiff contends
Defendant, in her official capacity, deprived Plaintiff of
her constitutional right to "reasonable accommodations,
" and Defendant discriminated and retaliated against
Plaintiff "in lieu of inquiring into reasonable
accommodations." (D.I. 8 at ¶ 4). Plaintiff argues
the third Eleventh Amendment immunity exception applies to
Defendant because Defendant is being sued in her official
capacity for prospective injunctive relief to remedy the
ongoing violations. (Id. at ¶ 11).
argues the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because
the Eleventh Amendment immunity bars Plaintiffs ADA claims
because there is no ongoing violation of federal law which
can be remedied by prospective relief. (D.I. 9 at
¶¶ 8-9). Defendant argues there are no facts to
suggest there is an ongoing violation and "[a]ny alleged
violation ended with her last day of employment with the
state of Delaware." (Id. at ¶ 12).
Defendant argues Plaintiff "cannot meet the threshold
test for Ex Parte Young to permit suit against
Defendant in her official capacity." (Id.).
the doctrine of Ex Parte Young, prospective relief
against a state official in her official capacity to prevent
future federal constitutional or federal statutory violations
is not barred by the Eleventh Amendment. 209 U.S. 123 (1908).
To determine whether a plaintiff has alleged a proper Ex
Parte Young claim, the federal court "will need to
conduct a straightforward inquiry into whether [the]
complaint alleges an ongoing violation of federal
law and seeks relief properly characterized as
prospective." Verizon Md. Inc. v. Pub. Serv. Comm
'n of Md.,535 U.S. 635, 636 (2002) (quoting
Idaho v. Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho, 521 U.S.
261, 296 (1997) (O'Connor, J., concurring)) (emphasis
added). Plaintiffs claims of ADA violations do not involve
ongoing violations. The ADA violations ended when Plaintiff
was terminated. Plaintiffs unemployment is a consequence of
Defendant's failure to abide by the law.
"Nonetheless, it is still a consequence of the violation