The opinion of the court was delivered by: ARTHUR SPATT, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER
This is a motion by Nassau Health Care Corporation, doing
business as the Nassau University Medical Center ("NUMC" or the
"Defendant") to: (1) dismiss the claims of Denise Blumberg (the
"Plaintiff") brought under American with Disabilities Act (the
"ADA"); and (2) strike the Plaintiff's demand for punitive
damages. The Defendant contends that the Plaintiff is barred from
bringing an ADA claim against it because the NUMC is a public entity and state actor that is
immune to such suits under the Eleventh Amendment. For the
reasons that follow, the motion to dismiss is denied and the
motion to strike is granted.
The Plaintiff was hired by the Defendant as a Pediatric
Endocrinologist in February 1991 and was promoted to the position
of Director of Pediatric Endocrinology in February 1992. On
September 5, 2003, the Plaintiff was diagnosed with breast cancer
and needed to take time off for surgery and chemotherapy. In
October 2003, she submitted a catastrophic sick leave request,
which asked for sick leave until October 27, 2003, and that she
be able to work thereafter with the exception of the two days per
month when she would be receiving chemotherapy treatment. On
October 24, 2003, the Plaintiff was terminated without being
given a reason. The Plaintiff claims that her termination was
willful and motivated by disability-discriminatory animus.
The sole issue before the Court in this motion is whether the
Eleventh Amendment bars the Plaintiff from bringing an ADA claim
against the Defendant. The Plaintiff, in her memorandum of law in
opposition to the Defendant's motion to dismiss portions of the
complaint, conceded that punitive damages may not be sought here.
As such, the motion to strike the punitive damages claim is
granted. The Court will now discuss the question of whether the NUMC is entitled to
Eleventh Amendment immunity.
A. Rule 12(b)(1) Standard
The Eleventh Amendment bars "federal jurisdiction over suits
against nonconsenting States." Kimel v. Florida Bd. of Regents,
528 U.S. 62, 73, 120 S. Ct. 631, 640 (2000) (citing College
Savings Bank v. Florida Prepaid Postsecondary Ed. Expense Bd.,
527 U.S. 666, 669-670, 119 S. Ct. 2219, 144 L. Ed.2d 605 (1999)).
Therefore, a motion to dismiss on the ground of state immunity is
a jurisdictional matter properly brought under Rule 12(b)(1) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
When considering a motion for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), the Court may consider
affidavits and other materials beyond the pleadings to resolve
the jurisdictional question. Robinson v. Gov't of Malaysia,
269 F.3d 133, 141 n. 6 (2d Cir. 2001); Antares Aircraft, L.P. v.
Fed. Republic of Nigeria, 948 F.2d 90, 96 (2d Cir. 1991),
vacated on other grounds, 505 U.S. 1215, 112 S. Ct. 3020
(1992); Exch. Nat'l Bank of Chicago v. Touche Ross & Co.,
544 F.2d 1126, 1130 (2d Cir. 1976). Under Rule 12(b)(1), the Court
must accept as true all material factual allegations in the
complaint, but will not draw inferences favorable to the party
asserting jurisdiction. Shipping Fin. Servs. Corp. v. Drakos,
140 F.3d 129, 131 (2d Cir. 1998); Atl. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Balfour Maclaine Int'l Ltd.,
968 F.2d 196, 198 (2d Cir. 1992).
B. The American's with Disabilities Act
The ADA is a comprehensive statute that prohibits the
discrimination of 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. See Tennessee v. Lane, 541 U.S. 509,
516-17, 124 S. Ct. 1978, 158 L. Ed. 2d 820 (2004).
Although the provisions of Title I expressly cover employment,
courts have held that the language of Title II is broad enough to
also encompass claims of employment discrimination against public
entities. See Transp. Workers Union v. NY City Transit Auth.,
342 F. Supp. 2d 160, 173 (S.D.N.Y. 2004) ("Given th[e] broad
congressional mandate, it is certainly at least a plausible
reading of Title II that it covers employment discrimination.");
Bledsoe v. Palm Beach County Soil & Water Conservation Dist.,
133 F.3d 816, 820 (11th Cir. 1998); Coleman v. Town of Old
Saybrook, No. 03-1275, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7442, at *8 (D.
Conn. 2004); see also Castellano v. City of New York,
142 F.3d 58, 70 (2d Cir. 1998) (assuming without deciding that
employees may allege a violation of Title II against their
employers). But see Zimmerman v. Oregon Dep't of Justice,
170 F.3d 1169 (9th Cir. 1999) (holding that Title II does not cover employment discrimination).
Whether Title II covers employment discrimination may seem
academic, but as will be discussed below, the distinction becomes
important when asserting claims against the State or one of its
agencies due to the Eleventh Amendment.
C. The Eleventh Amendment
The Eleventh Amendment provides, "The 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." U.S. Const. amend. XI. A State is thus
immune from suits in federal court brought by its own citizens,
and such immunity extends to officers acting on behalf of the
State. Puerto Rico ...