United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
Juanita Jackson, Plaintiff, represented by Pheobe A. Clark,
Wukela Law Firm.
Carolina Department of Disabilities & Special Needs,
Defendant, represented by Christopher W. Johnson, Gignilliat
Savitz and Bettis & D.L. Dirk Aydlette, III, Gignilliat
Savitz and Bettis.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KAYMANI D. WEST, Magistrate Judge.
Juanita Jackson ("Jackson" or
"Plaintiff"), filed this action against her former
employer, South Carolina Department of Disabilities and
Special Needs ("Defendant" or "SCDDSN"),
asserting claims under Title I of the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA Title I"), 42 U.S.C.
Â§Â§ 12111, et seq; Title II of the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA Title II"), 42
U.S.C. Â§Â§ 12131, et seq.; the Rehabilitation Act of
1973, 29 U.S.C. Â§Â§ 701, et seq. as applied through
28 C.F.R. Part 35 Section 504 ("Rehabilitation
Act"); and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of
1967, 29 U.S.C. Â§Â§ 621, et seq. ("ADEA").
In response to Plaintiff's Complaint, ECF No. 1,
Defendant initially filed an Answer on February 2, 2016, ECF
No. 12. Defendant then filed an Amended Answer, ECF No. 12,
as well as a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, ECF No.
13. This matter is before the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Â§
636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.) for a Report
and Recommendation ("Report") on Defendant's
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, in which it seeks
dismissal of all of Plaintiff's causes of action.
Plaintiff filed a responsive memorandum, ECF No. 15, to which
Defendant filed a Reply, ECF No. 21. Having reviewed the
parties' submissions and the applicable law, the
undersigned recommends that Defendant's Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings, ECF No. 13, be granted and this
matter be dismissed.
Background and Standard of Review
was employed by SCDDSN in a "direct care position"
until her termination on November 1, 2013. See
Compl., ECF No. 1; Charge of Discrimination, ECF No.
13-2. Plaintiff claims she was discriminated
against on account of a disability and on account of her age.
See Charge. In its Rule 12(c) Motion for Judgment on
the Pleadings, SCDDSN seeks dismissal on several legal
grounds and based on affirmative defenses.
standard of review for a motion seeking judgment on the
pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c)
motion is the same as that for Rule 12(b)(6) motions to
dismiss for failure to state a claim. Butler v. United
States, 702 F.3d 749, 751-52 (4th Cir. 2012). A motion
to dismiss for failure to state a claim should not be granted
unless it appears certain that the plaintiff can prove no set
of facts that would support his claim and would entitle him
to relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). "A motion filed under
Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the legal sufficiency of a
complaint." Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d
186, 192 (4th Cir. 2009).
considering this motion, the court "must accept as true
all of the factual allegations contained in the
complaint." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007). The court is also to "draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of the plaintiff.'" E.I. du
Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d
435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011) (quoting Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd.
v. Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 253 (4th
Cir. 2009)). Although a court must accept all facts
alleged in the complaint as true, this is inapplicable to
legal conclusions, and "[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted).
Defendant Claims Eleventh Amendment Immunity
claims the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution bars
Plaintiff's causes of action brought pursuant to Title I
of the ADA and the ADEA. The Eleventh Amendment provides
immunity to nonconsenting states and their agencies from
suits by private citizens in federal court. See
Regents of the Univ. of Calif. v. Doe, 519 U.S. 425,
429 (1997). Plaintiff acknowledges in her Complaint that
SCDDSN is a South Carolina state agency. Compl. Â¶ 2;
see SCDDSN v. Hoover Universal, Inc., 535
F.3d 300, 308 (4th Cir. 2008) (noting SCDDSN is an
"integral arm of the State."). Only if Congress
has appropriately abrogated that immunity does federal
jurisdiction exist as to suits against such states and state
entities. See Bd. of Trustees of the Univ. of
Al. v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356, 363 (2001) ("Congress
may abrogate the States' Eleventh Amendment immunity when
it both unequivocally intends to do so and act[s] pursuant to
a valid grant of constitutional authority.'")
(quoting Kimel v. Fla. Bd. of Regents, 528 U.S. 62,
explained by the Supreme Court of the United States,
"the ADA is designed to provide a clear and
comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of
discrimination against individuals with disabilities.' It
forbids discrimination against persons with disabilities in
three major areas of public life: employment, which is
covered by Title I of the statute; public services, programs,
and activities, which are the subject of Title II; and public
accommodations, which are covered by Title III."
Tennessee v. Lane, 541 U.S. 509, 516-17 (2004)
(quoting 42 U.S.C. Â§Â§ 12101(b)(1), (b)(4)). Here, Plaintiff
brings causes of action pursuant to the ADA's Title I and
Title II. Defendant seeks dismissal of both, but on different
grounds. Defendant's challenge to the ADA Title II claim
is discussed separately below.
submits state agencies cannot be sued for claims brought
under ADA's Title I based on the Supreme Court's
decision in Garrett,531 U.S. 356, in which the
Court held that Congress had not validly abrogated Eleventh
Amendment immunity in the passage of the ADA. Def.'s Mem.
2-3. In response, Plaintiff does not address the
Garrett decision in any manner. Rather, she looks
the Court's 2000 opinion in Kimel,528 U.S. 62,
in which the Court had determined Congress did not
appropriately abrogate immunity in passing the ADEA, ...