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Henderson v. Fairfax-Falls Church Commnity Service Board

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

November 15, 2018




         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendants Fairfax-Falls Church Community Service Board ("FFCCSB"), Fairfax County Government ("FCG"), and Inova Health System's ("Inova") (collectively "Defendants") Motions to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), 12(b)(2), and 12(b)(6).

         Plaintiff is a forty-six-year-old, African-American man who I suffers from osteoporosis in his hips and sleep apnea. Plaintiff alleges that he was a substance abuse counselor for FCG before I that function was given to FFCCSB, and then subsequently for FFCCSB. Plaintiff alleges that during his employment, FFCCSB underwent budget cuts and Inova was to hire many of its employees as part of the 2014 Merrifield Land Agreement ("MLA"). Plaintiff further states that he attempted to get a needed certification in order to work for Inova as a substance abuse counselor. The certification required, among other things, for Plaintiff to work 2000 hours in the field which could be done at FFCCSB.

         Plaintiff alleges that FFCCSB discriminatorily prevented him from reaching the hours requirement due to his race, age, genetics, and disabilities. Plaintiff alleges that FFCCSB knew of his disabilities due to the access FFCCSB employees had to Inova's patient record system. Plaintiff also states that he requested leave in order to have surgery on his hip which would have alerted FFCCSB to some medical disability. Plaintiff further alleges that he did not always have an African-American manager at FFCCSB, but Nurse Meacham, an African-American woman, was placed over him near the end of his employment to provide cover his eventual firing. Plaintiff also alleges that Nurse Meacham used her ability to access Inova's patient records to use Plaintiff's medical record against him and eventually to support Plaintiff's termination from FFCCSB.

         Prior to being fired. Plaintiff was required to undergo a "Fit for Duty" evaluation after requesting leave to have surgery on his "hip. On the evaluation form, which was completed on May 13, 2016, the evaluator wrote that Plaintiff's co-workers were afraid of him and that Plaintiff was a threat to his co-workers. Plaintiff was ultimately terminated from FFCCSB on July 21, 2016.

         Plaintiff alleges that he continues to be subject to retaliation from FFCCSB and FCG employees he believes are preventing his employment across the country.

         Plaintiff filed his first charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against FCG alleging race and age discrimination along with retaliation on June 1, 2016. Plaintiff received his right-to-sue-letter for that charge on June 14, 2016. Plaintiff filed his second charge against FCG in July 2016 alleging racial discrimination and retaliation. He received his right-to-sue-letter for that charge on September 8, 2016. Plaintiff did not check the box for genetic or disability discrimination on either EEOC charge.

         Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on July 3, 2018. Defendants move to dismiss the lawsuit for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction, and failure to state a claim.

         A motion to dismiss tests the sufficiency of the complaint. See Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992). A complaint must provide a short, plain statement showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), and must state a plausible claim for relief to survive a motion to dismiss, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

         In a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, a court may look beyond the four corners of the complaint in order to satisfy itself of jurisdiction. Mims v. Kemp, 516 F.2d 21, 23 (4th Cir. 1975). The plaintiff has the burden of proving that jurisdiction exists. Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999). Once it is established that there is no subject-matter jurisdiction, "the only function remaining to the court is that of announcing the fact and dismissing the cause." Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 94 (1998) (internal quotations omitted).

         In a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true and construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A court may only look at the facts pleaded in the complaint when determining its sufficiency on a 12(b)(6) motion. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 448 (4th Cir. 2011). "[I]f the time bar is apparent on the face of the complaint," a court may grant a 12(b)(6) motion on statute of limitations grounds. Dean v. Pilgrim's Pride Corp., 395 F.3d 471, 474 (4th Cir. 2005).

         Plaintiff s Amended Complaint alleges eleven counts which are: Violation of the Virginia Business Conspiracy Statute (Count I); Violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) (Count II); Violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) (Count III); Violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Count IV); Violation of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) (Count V); Defamation (Count VI); Breach of Contract (Count VII); Tortious Interference with a Business Expectancy (Count VIII); Statutory Conspiracy (Count IX); Preventing Employment by Others of former Employee, Va. Code Ann. § 40.1-27 (Count X); and Violations of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution (Count XI).

         The Court will first respond to FFCCSB's contention that this court lacks personal jurisdiction over it. FFCCSB argues that it is not statutorily capable of being sued. Rule 12(b)(2) permits dismissal of an action where there is a lack of personal jurisdiction. See, e.g., Muniz v. Fairfax Cty. Police Dep't, No. 1:05-cv-466, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48176 *4 (E.D. Va. Aug. 2, 2005). The capacity of an entity that is neither an individual or corporation is determined by state law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(b)(3). An entity that does not have capacity to be sued is outside the personal jurisdiction of the court. Muniz, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48176 *4.

         Virginia law determines the capacity for suit of entities that are not individuals or corporations. Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(b)(3). When a statutorily created body is not granted the power to sue or be sued in the enumeration of its powers, it is not capable of being sued. See Davis v. City of Portsmouth, 579 F.Supp. 1205, 1210 (E.D. Va. 1983), aff'd 742 F.2d 1448 (4th Cir. 1984). Here, FFCCSB was created by statute, Va. Code Ann. §§ 37.2-500 et seq., and was not granted the power to sue or be sued in the enumeration of its powers, Va. Code Ann. ยง ...

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