United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
ORDER AND OPINION
RICHARD M. GERGEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant Arclabs, LLC's
Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. No. 11). For the reasons set forth
below, the Court denies the Motion to Dismiss.
brings claims under § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29
U.S.C. § 794 and Title III of the Americans with
Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101
et seq., alleging that he was, among other things,
discriminatorily disenrolled from a welding school based on a
disability.(Dkt. No. 1.) Plaintiff Patrick Gresham
alleges that he suffers from Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic
Purpura (ITP), an autoimmune disease which requires regular
treatments which have a variety of side effects, including
mood changes, sleeplessness, irritability, anxiety, headaches
and nausea. (Dkt. No. 1 at ¶7.) Plaintiff asserts that
on or about September 21, 2105, he began taking welding
classes at Defendant Arclabs, LLC ("Arclabs"), and
informed them of his condition and that his ITP may force him
to miss class. (Id. at ¶ 8 - 9.) Plaintiff
alleges that over his course of study at Arclabs, he
complained on at least two occasions regarding his
workstation being left in a cluttered condition.
(Id. at ¶¶ 10, 16.) Further, Plaintiff
alleges that he needed to miss class on a variety of
occasions because of his medical condition and each time
provided a doctor's note. (Id. at ¶ 15.) In
April 2016, Plaintiff was scheduled to undergo a more serious
treatment regimen, and, at a meeting with an Arclabs
administrator, alleges that he was informed that his
previously submitted doctor's notes did not excuse his
absences and instead, moving forward, he needed to submit a
leave of absence form, which could be retroactively approved.
(Id. at ¶¶ 20 - 22.) Ultimately, during
his course of treatment, Plaintiff missed a variety of
classes. (Id. at 24.) On May 25, 2016, Plaintiff
alleges that when he arrived at Arclabs for class and to
submit a leave of absence form, he was informed that he was
disenrolled from Arclabs because he missed seven consecutive
days and failed to submit a leave of absence form.
(Id. at ¶ 26.)
now moves to dismiss,  arguing that the claims are barred by the
statute of limitations. Specifically, Arclabs argues that
federal law requires borrowing the one-year statute of
limitations contained in the South Carolina Human Affairs Law
("SCHAL"), SC Code Ann. § 1-13-90(d)(6). (Dkt.
No. 11-1.) Plaintiff opposes the motion, arguing that the
most analogous state statute of limitations is the three-year
period for personal injury actions. (Dkt. No. 13.)
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits the
dismissal of an action if the complaint fails "to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted." Such a motion
tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint and "does
not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of the
claim, or the applicability of defenses.... Our inquiry then
is limited to whether the allegations constitute 'a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.'" Republican Party of N.C.
v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (citations
omitted). In a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court is obligated
to "assume the truth of all facts alleged in the
complaint and the existence of any fact that can be proved,
consistent with the complaint's allegations." E.
Shore Mas., Inc. v. J.D. Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 213
F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000). However, while the Court must
accept the facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving
party, it "need not accept as true unwarranted
inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments."
survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must state
"enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570(2007). Although the
requirement of plausibility does not impose a probability
requirement at this stage, the complaint must show more than
a "sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). A complaint has "facial plausibility"
where the pleading "allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged." Id.
ADA does not contain a statute of limitations, federal courts
'borrow the state statute of limitations that applies to
the most analogous state-law claim.'" Semenova
v. Maryland Transit Admin., 845 F.3d 564, 567 (4th Cir.
2017) citing A Soc'y Without A Name v. Virginia,
655 F.3d 342, 347 (4th Cir. 2011). See also Wolsky v.
Med. Coll. of Hampton Roads, 1 F.3d 222, 223 (4th Cir.
1993) ("Since the Rehabilitation Act does not provide
its own statute of limitations and 28 U.S.C. § 1658, the
general federal statute of limitations is not applicable in
this case, the district court must turn to state law for an
appropriate statute of limitations."). As the
Rehabilitation Act has substantially similar language to the
ADA, courts apply the "same analysis to determine the
applicable statute of limitations[.]" Semenova,
845 F.3d at 567. The Fourth Circuit has indicated that a
court should look to whether a state law provides a plaintiff
with "the same rights and remedies" to determine
the applicable statute of limitations. See Id.
(declining to apply Maryland human rights law statute of
limitations where it did not provide cause of action for
discrimination in provision of public services). See also
Wolsky, 1 F.3d at 224 (determining that Virginia law
provided "same rights and remedies").
Court therefore must determine whether the SCHAL provides the
"same rights and remedies" protected by the ADA and
the Rehabilitation Act as applicable to this case. Plaintiff
alleges discrimination from an educational facility that
receives federal funding. Therefore to apply the SCHAL's
one year statute of limitations, the SCHAL must provide
protection for disability discrimination from educational
facilities or programs receiving public funding. See
Wolsky, 1 F.3d at 224 (applying Virginia disabilities
law's statute of limitations to claim of dismissal from
medical school where Virginia law prohibited discrimination
by entities receiving state or federal funding).
SCHAL, as with the Maryland statute addressed by the Fourth
Circuit in Semenova, "only recognizes causes of
action [for disability discrimination] in limited
circumstances." Semenova, 845 F.3d at 568.
Specifically, the SCHAL prohibits disability discrimination
in employment, SC Code Ann. § 1-13-80, in conducting
certain medical examinations or inquiries of a job applicant
or employees, SC Code Ann. § 1-13-80, and applies to
state agencies, departments, local subdivisions, employers,
employment agencies, labor organizations, and local
governmental bodies, SC Code Ann. § 1-13-90(c), (d).
These claims are subject to, at most, a one-year statute of
limitations. See S.C. Code Ann. §
1-13-90(d)(6). However, noticeably absent from these covered
claims are any claims against educational institutions or
facilities receiving state or federal funding. As noted by
the Fourth Circuit, in prior cases where the Fourth Circuit
applied a state human rights' law's statutes of
limitation, it did so, "at least in part, because the
relevant state laws also allowed claims for the same type of
discrimination the plaintiffs alleged pursuant to federal
law." Semenova v. Maryland Transit Admin., 845
F.3d 564, 568 (4th Cir. 2017). Notably, in Wolsky, a
case involving dismissal of a medical student from medical
school, the state statute explicitly prohibited disability
discrimination by any program that received federal funding.
See Wolsky, 1 F.3d at 224.
other considerations mandate this conclusion as well. First,
as indicated by the South Carolina Human Affairs
Commission's website, the agency responsible for
administering the SCHAL, they do also accept "Non
Employment Complaints." However, the section of the
statute which arguably covers these complaints, SC Code Ann.
§ 1-13-90(e), a catch-all provision covering complaints
of "the existence or occurrence of a practice asserted
to be discriminatory on the basis of...disability[, ]"
is similarly silent as to any claims for education or
publicly funded programs and noticeably does not include any
statute of limitations or private right of action for such
claims, instead relying on alternative methods of resolving
the complaint. Second, and most importantly, the SCHAL
explicitly prohibits reading any additional causes of action
into the statute. S.C. Code Ann. § 1-13-100
("Nothing in this chapter may be construed to create a
cause of action other than those specifically described in
Section 1-13-90 of this chapter."). As the SCHAL does
not include causes of action against private educational
programs or programs receiving state or federal funds, the
Court will not construe it as such.
as the SCHAL does not offer the same rights or remedies as
the ADA or the Rehabilitation Act as applicable here and does
not prohibit disability discrimination in private educational
programs or programs receiving state or federal funds, the
SCHAL is not analogous to the Plaintiffs claims here.
Instead, the Court finds that the most analogous state law
claim is for personal injury or South Carolina's general
provision for liability created by statute, and the Court
applies South Carolina's three-year statute of
limitations most applicable, which applies, in relevant part,
to "liability created by a statute," personal
injury and injury to the "rights of another." S.C.
Code Ann. § 15-3-530; Semenova, 845 F.3d at 571
(applying Maryland's general civil action three year
statute of limitations to plaintiffs ADA claims regarding a
failure of Maryland buses to use disability ...