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United States v. Woody

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

April 29, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
C.T. WOODY, JR., SHERIFF, CITY OF RICHMOND, in his official Capacity, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Robert E. Payne Senior United States District Judge

This matter is before the Court on DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS PURSUANT TO FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(1) AND 12(b)(6) (ECF No. 9) . For the reasons herein, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, the United States of America, filed a Complaint on March 2, 2016, alleging that C.T. Woody, Jr., Sheriff, City of Richmond ("Sheriff Woody"), acting in his official capacity, and the Richmond City Sheriff's Office (collectively, "Defendants") violated Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). (Complaint ("Compl., ") ECF No. 1). The Complaint alleges that Emily Hall ("Hall") was employed by Defendants from 2003 to 2013 as a deputy sheriff. Id. ¶ 10. In or around September 2012, Hall was diagnosed with familial dilated cardiomyopathy and tachycardia, which substantially affected her cardiovascular function and significantly limited many of her daily activities. Id. ¶¶ 8-9. Because of these limitations, Hall was no longer able to perform her regular duties as Deputy Sheriff. Id. ¶¶ 12-14.

Therefore, while recovering from surgery in October and November of 2012, Hall asked Woody to reassign her to another position within Defendants' organization. Id. ¶¶ 16, 18. Sheriff Woody assured Hall that he would be able to find a civilian position for her and would discuss the matter with human resources staff. Id. ¶ 17. Shortly thereafter, Hall became aware of a vacant Payroll Technician position, and applied for it in February 2013. Id. ¶ 20. Hall ultimately did not receive the position, and in March 2013 again requested reassignment within Defendants' organization. Id. ¶¶ 24-25. Defendants declined to offer Hall a transfer or reassignment to a vacant position, and terminated her employment in May of 2013. Id. ¶¶ 26-27. The reason offered for Hall's termination was "organizational need." Id. ¶ 27.

On July 31, 2013, Hall filed a timely charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), alleging that Defendants discriminated against her in violation of the ADA by denying her a reasonable accommodation. Id. ¶ 7. The EEOC investigated Hall's charge and found reasonable cause to believe that Defendants discriminated against her in violation of the ADA. Id. ¶ 8. After the EEOCs conciliation efforts failed, the EEOC referred the matter to the United States Department of Justice. Id. The United States now seeks to enjoin Defendants to implement measures designed to ensure compliance with the ADA, as well as seeking Hall's reinstatement and compensatory damages, including back pay with interest and damages for pain and suffering. Id. at 7-8.

Defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 10). Defendants contend that the Richmond City Sheriff's Office is not sui juris because the "Richmond City Sheriff's Office" is not an independent legal entity. (Memorandum in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) ("Def. Mem., " ECF No. 11) at 6). Defendants next contend that all claims against Sheriff Woody must be dismissed because the Complaint does not adequately allege that the Commonwealth of Virginia was Hall's "employer" within the meaning of the ADA. Id. at 7-11. For the reasons below, Defendants' motion will be granted as to the claim brought against the Richmond City Sheriff's Office, and denied as to the claims brought against Sheriff Woody.

DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard [1]

Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) permits a party to move for dismissal of a claim if the complaint fails "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) requires "a short and plain statement of the claim" showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. "To survive a motion to dismiss, 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) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).

Courts should assume the veracity of all well-pleaded allegations in the Complaint, and should deny a motion to dismiss where those well-pleaded allegations state a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 679. A claim is "plausible" when the plaintiff pleads facts sufficient to allow the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. The court should grant a motion to dismiss, however, where the allegations are nothing more than legal conclusions, or where they permit a court to infer no more than a possibility of misconduct. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79.

Although courts generally do not consider extrinsic evidence in deciding motions under Rule 12(b)(6), "a court may consider...documents central to a plaintiff's claim, and documents sufficiently referred to in the complaint without converting the [motion] into one for summary judgment, so long as the authenticity of the documents is not disputed." PBM Nutritionals, LLC v. Dornoch Ltd., 667 F.Supp.2d 621, 626 (E.D. Va. 2009) (citing Witthohn v. Fed. Ins. Co., 164 F.App'x 396, 396 (4th Cir. 2006)).

B. The Richmond City Sheriff's Office is not Sui Juris.

Defendants contend that all claims against the Richmond City Sheriff's Office should be dismissed because there is no independent legal entity known as the "Richmond City Sheriff's Office, and that, accordingly, the Richmond City Sheriff's Office is not sui juris. (Def. Mem. at 6) . The United States does not oppose the dismissal of the Richmond City Sheriff's Office as a party, to the extent that a suit brought against the Richmond City Sheriff's Office is legally indistinct from a suit brought against Sheriff Woody in his official capacity. (United States' Response to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Complaint ("Gov. Resp., " ECF No. 11) at 1). The ...


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