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Anyanwu v. State

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

July 23, 2019

IMMACULATA N. ANYANWU
v.
STATE OF LOUISIANA

          RULING AND ORDER

          BRIAN A. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 9) filed by Defendant. Plaintiff filed an opposition. (Doc. 13). For the reasons stated herein, the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 9) is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. Plaintiff is granted ten days from the date of this order to file a supplemental and amended complaint with respect to her Title II ADA, Title VII Civil Rights Act, and FMLA claims.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges that she was hired by Defendant to work as a Registered Nurse (RN) at the Eastern Louisiana Mental Health System in February of 2007.[1](Doc. 1 at p. 2). At some point in 2012, Plaintiff took medical leave and then returned to work in November of 2012 with unspecified work restrictions. Plaintiff was thereafter terminated, (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant was aware of Plaintiffs work restrictions and disability at the time it hired her in 2007. She further alleges that the only reason she was terminated was because of her disability. (Doc. 1 at p. 3). Plaintiff brings claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and the Family Medical Leave Act. (Id. at p. 1). Defendant seeks the dismissal of Plaintiffs Title I ADA and Title VII Civil Rights Act claims, asserting (1) that the Court does not possess subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs Title I ADA claim because of the Eleventh Amendment, and (2) that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for relief under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), a claim is" 'properly dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction when the court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate' the claim." In re FEMA Trailer Formaldehyde Prods. Liab. Litig., 668 F.3d 281, 286 (5th Cir. 2012) (quoting Home Builders Ass'n v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998)). In order to "prevent[ ] a court without jurisdiction from prematurely dismissing a case with prejudice," a court should consider a Rule 12(b)(1) motion for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction before addressing any motions that concern the merits of a case. Id. at 286-87 (citing Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001)).

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) is analyzed under the same standard as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Benton v. United States, 960 F.2d 19, 21 (5th Cir. 1992). That standard seeks to determine whether "a complaint... contain[s] 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)). "[F]acial plausibility" exists "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Hence, the complaint need not set out "detailed factual allegations," but something "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" is required. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. ADA Claims

         1. Title I ADA

         Plaintiffs complaint alleges general ADA violations, and Plaintiff specifies in her opposition that she brings suit under Title I of the ADA. Title I prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, and firing among other aspects of employment. 42 U.S.C. § 12112. Defendant claims that Plaintiffs Title I ADA claim is barred by the Eleventh Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Eleventh Amendment provides that "[t]he Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State." The Eleventh Amendment bars private suits in federal court against states, including suits against state agencies. Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 339 (1979). Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 98-100 (1984); Aguilar v. Tex. Dep't of Criminal Justice, 160 F.3d 1052, 1054 (5th Cir.1998). The Supreme Court has held that Congress did not abrogate Eleventh Amendment immunity in Title I of the ADA and thus a plaintiff cannot bring a Title I ADA suit against the state seeking money damages. Board of Trustees of Univ. of Alabama v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356, 374 (2001).

         Here, Plaintiff brings a Title I ADA claim against the State of Louisiana through the Louisiana Department of Health, Office of Behavioral Health. (Doc. 1 at p. 2). The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has already determined that a predecessor to the Louisiana Department of Health, the Louisiana Department of Health and Human Resources, is an alter ego of the state and is therefore entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity. Darlak v. Bobear, 814 F.2d 1055, 1059 (5th Cir. 1987).[2] Moreover, courts in this circuit have uniformly held that the Louisiana Department of Health is entitled to Eleventh Amendment Immunity. E.g., Amir El, 2016 WL 7012277 at *2. Accordingly, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs Title ADA claim is barred by the Eleventh Amendment.

         2. ...


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