United States District Court, N.D. California
March 8, 2004.
ZENAIDA PABLICO-STOVALL, Plaintiff,
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SAN FRANCISCO, Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARILYN PATEL, Chief Judge, District
Memorandum and Order
Motion to Dismiss
Beginning in November 1989, the Regents of the University of
California ("the Regents") employed plaintiff Zenaida Pablico-Stovall as
a patient care assistant at the University of California San
Francisco. ("UCSF") medical facility. See Compl. at ¶
5.*fn1 On April 17, 2002, while helping to move a UCSF patient,
plaintiff sustained an unspecified physical injury. Id. at
¶ 6. As recompense for this injury, plaintiff received some amount of
worker's compensation; upon her return to UCSF, plaintiff was delegated
reduced and modified work duties. Id. at ¶¶ 6-7.
At some point after her return, plaintiff allegedly told UCSF that she
would be willing to be (re)hired as a full-time employee provided
that she need only fulfill "light restricted [work] duties."
Id. at ¶ 9. Plaintiff claims that she easily satisfied all
skill, experience, and education requirements for a full-time slate of
"restricted and modified" work, but that rather than (re)hire her, UCSF
allegedly filled all available positions with others. Id. at
¶ 10. Plaintiff also claims that UCSF went so far as to ask plaintiff
to train these newly hired employees. Id.
On April 24, 2003, for reasons unspecified in the papers filed with
this court, the Regents placed plaintiff on involuntary unpaid status.
Id. at ¶ 11. Eight months later, on December 24, 2003,
plaintiff filed a complaint in this court. Inexpertly pled, plaintiff's
complaint states a single cause of action, viz., that the Regents*fn2
violated Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act,
42 U.S.C. § 12112,
et seq. ("ADA"), when UCSF refused to (re)hire plaintiff as a
full-time "front desk unit services coordinator." See
id. at ¶¶ 14-16. Plaintiff claims that defendant's conduct
has caused, among other things, "severe emotional distress, emotional
pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish and other non-pecuniary
losses." Id. at 15. As compensation for these putative
injuries, plaintiff seeks $60,000 in special damages, $250,000 in
general damages, attorneys' fees, costs, and any additional relief the
court may deem appropriate. See id. at ¶ 16. Less
than a month later, on January 24, 2004, the Regents filed an ex
parte application for an order permitting them to file a motion to
dismiss, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), prior to
any preliminary case management conference. The court granted the
Regent's ex pane application on January 16, 2004, and the
Regent's motion to dismiss plaintiff's claim under Rule 12(b)(6) is now
before the court.
A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
"tests the legal sufficiency of a claim." Navarro v. Block.
250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). Because Rule 12(b)(6) focuses on the
"sufficiency" of a claim and not the claim's substantive merits
"a court may [typically] look only at the face of the complaint
to decide a motion to dismiss." Van Buskirk v. Cable News Network,
Inc., 284 F.3d 977, 980 (9th Cir. 2002). If "a district court
considers evidence outside the pleadings" when deciding a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion, the court "must normally convert the 12(b)(6) motion into a
[Federal Rule of Civil Procedure] 56 motion for summary judgment, and it
must give the nonmoving party an opportunity to respond." United
States v. Ritchie. 342 F.3d 903, 907 (9th Cir. 2003). Under
Rule 12(b)(6), "unless it appears beyond doubt that plaintiff can prove no set
of facts in support of her claim which would entitle her to relief," a
motion to dismiss must be denied. Lewis v. Telephone Employees
Credit Union. 87 F.3d 1537, 1545 (9th Cir. 1996) (citation omitted);
see also Conley v. Gibson. 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)
(permitting dismissal for failure to state a claim only where "it appears
beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of
his claim which would entitle him to relief). When assessing a
Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must accept as true "all material allegations
of the complaint," and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in favor
of the non-moving party. See, e.g., Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins,
Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996) (citation omitted).
Title I of the ADA "prohibits employment discrimination against
qualified individuals on the basis of disability." See Vinson v.
Thomas, 288 F.3d 1145, 1158 (9th Cir. 2002); 42 U.S.C. § 12112.
In certain contexts, after specific procedural requirements are
satisfied, Title I permits aggrieved employees to seek relief in federal
court. Id. But before a plaintiff may seek judicial relief for
a violation of Title I, she must first exhaust available administrative
remedies. See 42 U.S.C. § 12117: see
also Deppe v. United Airlines, 217 F.3d 1262, 1266-67
(9th Cir. 2000). Adequate exhaustion under Title I entails, inter
alia, the filing of an administrative complaint with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the acquisition of an EEOC
"right-to-sue" letter. Id. Nothing in the record suggests that
plaintiff complied with either of these or any other
germane procedural mandates. It appears, instead, that plaintiff filed a
complaint in this court without contacting the EEOC at all; at no point
did she properly solicit EEOC aid or permission to sue. Plaintiff's
failure to contact the EEOC and, thus, to exhaust her
administrative remedies precludes her from seeking relief in this
court at this time. Id.*fn3
As does the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution. Quite
recently and quite unequivocally, the Supreme Court held that, absent
waiver of Eleventh Amendment immunity, States are not amenable to suit
under Title I of the ADA. See Board of Trustees of the University of
Alabama v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356, 360 (2001) ("We hold that such
suits are barred by the Eleventh Amendment."). Thus, there are only two
relevant questions here: one, whether California has waived its Eleventh
Amendment protection in this specific context and, two, whether the
Regents constitute an arm of the State. Id. Both of these
inquiries are quite simple in this instance. To begin, there is nothing
to suggest that California has waived its immunity to suit in this
instance. Cf. BV Engineering v. University of California. Los
Angeles. 858 F.2d 1394, 1397-1400 (9th Cir. 1988) (noting that
waiver requires either express consent to suit from a state or clear
Congressional intent to condition participation in a federal program on
waiver of immunity). Congress did not precondition participation in the
broader ADA program on a State waiver of immunity, see Garrett.
531 U.S. at 363-64, and the Regents have manifest no desire whatsoever to
consent to this type of
suit. See BV Engineering, 858 F.2d at 1397. In addition,
"[i]t has long been established that UC is an instrumentality of the
state for purposes of the Eleventh Amendment." Thompson v. City of
Los Angeles. 885 F.2d 1439,1443 (9th Cir. 1989) (citing
Hamilton v. Regents. 293 U.S. 245, 257 (1934); Jackson v.
Hayakawa, 682 F.2d 1344, 1350 (9th Cir. 1982)): see also
Regents of the Univ. of Calif. v. Doe. 519 U.S. 425, 429 (1997)
(holding that, as an arm of the state, the University of California is
immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment) (citations omitted);
Armstrong v. Meyers, 964 F.2d 948, 948 (9th Cir. 1992) ("The
Regents, a corporation created by the California constitution, is an arm
of the state for Eleventh Amendment purposes. . . ."); cf.
Cerrato v. San Francisco. Community College Dist., 26 F.3d 968,
(9th Cir. 1994) (holding that even community college districts are
"dependent instrumentalities of the state of California").*fn4 The
Eleventh Amendment shields the Regents from precisely this type of suit.
See id. Plaintiff has not exhausted applicable
administrative remedies, and she has failed to articulate a claims not
precluded by the Eleventh Amendment. As a consequence, the court lacks
jurisdiction to hear plaintiff's Title I (i.e., only) claim, and the
Regents' motion to dismiss must be granted. See Fed.R.Civ.P.
Defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint is GRANTED. Because
plaintiff's cause of action is barred by the Eleventh Amendment,
plaintiff's Title I claim is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
IT IS SO ORDERED.