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Fiorica v. University of Rochester

March 31, 2008

JENNIFER FIORICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER, SCHOOL OF NURSING, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Jennifer Fiorica ("Fiorica"), a former student of the defendant University of Rochester School of Nursing, brings this action pursuant to Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, codified at 42 U.S.C. 12181 et. seq., and the New York State Human Rights Law claiming that the defendants improperly dismissed her from the School of Nursing because she suffers from bi-polar disorder, which she claims is a disability.

Defendant denies plaintiff's allegations and moves pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to dismiss plaintiff's Complaint for failure to state a claim. Specifically, defendant contends that because Title III of the ADA does not allow for the relief sought by the plaintiff in this action (money damages) plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiff opposes defendant's motion, and seeks leave to file an Amended Complaint.

For the reasons set forth below, I grant defendant's motion to dismiss the Complaint, and deny plaintiff's motion to amend.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Jennifer Fiorica is a former student of the University of Rochester School of Nursing which she began attending in May, 2003. According to the Complaint, in October, 2006, plaintiff informed one of her instructors that she had been clinically diagnosed as suffering from bi-polar disorder, for which she was taking a prescription medication. It is not clear from the Complaint as to why plaintiff disclosed this information to her instructor.

According to the plaintiff, shortly after she informed her instructor of her condition, she was accused of misconduct for having allegedly engaged in sexual misbehavior with a family member of a patient. She was also accused of violating hospital policy by allegedly accepting a carved pumpkin from a patient as a token of gratitude.

On October 31, 2006, plaintiff met with an Associate Dean of the School of Nursing who informed Fiorica that because of the complaints against her, she would no longer be allowed to participate in clinical instruction, but could continue to attend classroom sessions. On November 13, 2006 a formal hearing was held on the charges made against the plaintiff. According to the plaintiff, during the hearing she again informed school officials that she suffered from bi-polar disorder. Following the hearing, on November 30, 2006, plaintiff was expelled from the School of Nursing.

DISCUSSION

I. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides in relevant part that upon the close of pleadings, any party may move for judgment upon the pleadings. A motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) is evaluated under the same standards that apply to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Patel v. Contemporary Classics of Beverly Hills, 259 F.3d 123, 126 (2nd Cir. 2001). When evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) or Rule 12(c) motion, the court must ascertain, after presuming all factual allegations in the pleading to be true and viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, whether or not the plaintiff has stated any valid ground for relief. Patel, 259 F.3d at 126; Ferran v. Town of Nassau, 11 F.3rd 21, 22 (2d Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 1014 (1994). The court may grant a Rule 12(b)(6) motion 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.'" Allen v. WestPointPepperell, Inc., 945 F.2d 40, 44 (2d Cir. 1991) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)).

II. Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for relief under the ADA

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities act of 1990 states in relevant part that: "[n]o individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation." 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a). In seeking relief pursuant to Title III of the ADA, it is well established that monetary damages are not available to a private plaintiff proceeding under the Act, and that the only remedy available to a private plaintiff under Title III of the ADA is injunctive relief to prevent ongoing discrimination. Powell v. Nat'l Bd. of Med. Exam'rs, 364 F.3d 79, 86 (2d Cir.2004)("A private individual may only obtain injunctive relief for violations of a right granted under Title III; he cannot recover damages"); Bernas v. Cablevision Systems Corp., 215 Fed.Appx. 64, 67-68 (2nd Cir., 2007) ("Title III provides private parties with the right to injunctive relief to stop or prevent disability discrimination in a place of public accommodation, but it provides no right to monetary damages for past discrimination."); Milsap v. Republic Western Ins. Co., 2007 WL 1821307, *2 (D. Ariz., June 25, 2007)(remedies available to private plaintiff in a Title III case are for equitable relief or to prevent discrimination); Majocha v. ...


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