United States District Court, D. Arizona
G. CAMPBELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Arizona Department of Corrections (“ADOC”) moves
to dismiss this action. Doc. 17. The motion has been fully
briefed (Docs. 23, 25) and no party requests oral argument.
Because Plaintiff’s claim is barred by the Eleventh
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Court will grant the
motion without leave to amend.
allegations are accepted as true for purposes of this motion.
Plaintiff is a former Indiana State Trooper who suffers from
deafness of the right ear. Doc. 1 at 2-3. On November 5,
2013, ADOC made Plaintiff a conditional job offer for a
position as a correctional officer. Id. at 2. The
next day, Plaintiff underwent a medical examination.
Id. Following the examination, ADOC informed
Plaintiff that he did not meet the medical standards for the
position, but that he was eligible to receive a medical
waiver. Id. Plaintiff submitted a request for such a
waiver, but this request was denied. Id.
Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission. He received a right to sue
letter on November 10, 2016. Id. at 6. On January
19, 2016, he initiated this action, asserting a hiring
discrimination claim under the Americans with Disabilities
Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a).
argues that this claim is barred by the Eleventh Amendment.
The Court is constrained to agree. 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.” The Supreme Court has held
that this amendment applies not only to states, but to state
agencies like ADOC. See, e.g., Alabama v. Pugh, 438
U.S. 781, 782 (1978) (“There can be no doubt, however,
that suit against the State and its Board of Corrections is
barred by the Eleventh Amendment, unless Alabama has
consented to the filing of such a suit.”). In addition,
the Court has held that Congress may not abrogate this
immunity, except where it acts pursuant to a constitutional
amendment post-dating the Eleventh Amendment. Seminole
Tribe of Florida v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 72-73 (1996).
Most commonly, valid abrogation of the Eleventh Amendment
occurs where Congress acts under section 5 of the Fourteenth
Amendment to enforce that amendment’s substantive
guarantees of due process and equal protection. See
Id. (discussing Fitzpatrick v. Bitzer, 427 U.S.
these principles, the Supreme Court held in Board of
Trustees of Univ. of Alabama v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356
(2001), that state agencies were immune to private suit under
Title I of the ADA, the portion of the statute pertaining to
employment discrimination. The Court explained that Title I
was not a valid exercise of Congress’ authority under
section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment: “[I]n order to
authorize private individuals to recover money damages
against the States, there must be a pattern of discrimination
by the States which violates the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Id. at 374. The Court concluded that no pattern of
state discrimination against disabled employees had been
demonstrated. Id. Thus, the ADA did not validly
abrogate State’s Eleventh Amendment immunity.
Garrett, Plaintiff has sued a state agency under
Title I of the ADA, and the agency has asserted its Eleventh
Amendment immunity. Under Garrett, the Court must
dismiss the claim.
objects that this will leave him without a remedy. The
Supreme Court sought to assuage similar concerns in
Our holding here that Congress did not validly abrogate the
Statesâ sovereign immunity from suit by private individuals
for money damages under Title I does not mean that persons
with disabilities have no federal recourse against
discrimination. Title I of the ADA still prescribes standards
applicable to the States. Those standards can be enforced by
the United States in actions for money damages, as well as by
private individuals in actions for injunctive relief under
Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908). In addition,
state laws protecting the rights of persons with disabilities
in employment and other aspects of life provide independent
avenues of redress.
Id. at n.9.
defect in Plaintiffs claim is jurisdictional and cannot be
cured by pleading additional facts. Nor can Plaintiff cure
this defect by substituting a state officer as defendant.
See Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 663 (1974).
Since any amendment would be futile, the Court will dismiss
the case without leave to amend.
ORDERED that the motion to dismiss (Doc. 17) is granted with
prejudice. The Clerk of the Court shall enter judgment
accordingly and terminate this case.