United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
C. BURKE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiff, Christopher Todd Ruggieri, filed a complaint on March
26, 2018, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”) against his former employer, the City of
Hoover (“City”). Ruggieri also named as
defendants two City employees in their individual capacities.
The City moved to dismiss all of Ruggieri's claims
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P., and filed a
counterclaim. The judge previously assigned to this
dismissed all claims against the individual defendants as
well as Ruggieri's claim regarding purported violations
of HIPAA. However, the Court denied the City's motion to
dismiss Ruggieri's ADA claim and granted him leave to
amend his complaint. On August 31, 2018, Ruggieri filed a
document which contained a response to the defendant's
answer, a response to the defendant's counterclaim, and
what appeared to be additional causes of action. (Doc. 29).
However, the Court struck that filing insofar as it
constituted a response to the defendant's answer, and
again gave Ruggieri leave to file a proper amended complaint.
(Doc. 30). On October 19, 2018, Ruggieri filed another
amended complaint. However, that filing was stricken for its
failure “to comply with several of the requirements set
out by the Court” in its prior order granting leave to
amend. (Doc. 33). On November 13, 2018, Ruggieri filed an
“Amended Claim Statement” (Doc. 35), which this
Court will construe as his second amended complaint. In the
present complaint, Ruggieri re-alleged his ADA claim and
added several additional claims related to his termination.
Before the Court is the City's motion to dismiss
Ruggieri's Amended Claim Statement. (Doc. 41). The motion
has been fully briefed and is ripe for review.
motion, the City included a footnote in which it reasserted
its claim that Ruggieri's ADA claim should be dismissed
and noted that this Court could revisit the ruling denying
the previous motion. See (Doc. 41), citing
Solutia, Inc. v. McWane, Inc., 726 F.Supp.2d 1316, 1328
(N.D. Ala. 2010). Because this Court agrees with the
reasoning set forth in the previous judge's memorandum
opinion and order denying the City's first motion to
dismiss Ruggieri's ADA claim, the Court declines to
revisit that ruling.
for the reasons that follow, the Court finds that the
City's motion to dismiss the remaining claims in
Ruggieri's Amended Claim Statement is due to be
was employed by the City in its information technology
(“IT”) department. Ruggieri alleged that, on July
7, 2017, the City required him to begin anger-management
counseling with Dr. Lita Clark. Ruggieri stated that Dr.
Clark informed him that he would be required to waive his
HIPAA rights or the sessions would end, and the City would
terminate his employment. According to Ruggieri, he attended
three therapy sessions with Dr. Clark after which she
released him and “stat[ed] that there was nothing wrong
with [him].” (Doc. 35). Ruggieri asserted that he was
the only employee in the IT department who was required to
attend such counseling; that the counseling was not
consistent with his job requirements; and that the counseling
was not a business necessity for the City.
claimed that, on the day he was released from counseling, he
spoke to Mesha Dacus, the City's Assistant Human
Resources Director, to voice concern over the City's
decision to send him to counseling. A week later, Ruggieri
said, he was called in to Melinda James Lopez's office
and told that his fears were unfounded. According to
Ruggieri, he had been recording his conversations with people
in his office as well as his therapy sessions with Dr. Clark.
Ruggieri stated that Lopez told him that he was forbidden to
record any more conversations at work.
October 11, 2017, Ruggieri was placed on administrative
leave. Ruggieri alleged that “[s]ome  time between
October 11, 2017, and November 16, 2017, the hard drives were
pulled from [his] machine and subject[ed] to a forensics
search.” (Doc. 35). According to Ruggieri, his files
were encrypted. Therefore, he said, someone would have had to
log in under his profile in order to access his files. On
November 16, 2017, Ruggieri claimed that the City leveled
“certain charges” against him and set a hearing in
front of a tribunal for the following Monday, November 20,
2017. Ruggieri opted not to attend the hearing and resigned
from his position on November 16, 2017.
12(b)(6) enables a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint
for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion
to dismiss tests the sufficiency of a complaint against the
“liberal pleading standards set forth by Rule
8(a)(2).” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007). When evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a
district court accepts as true the allegations in the
complaint and construes the allegations in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff. See Brophy v. Jiangbo Pharms.
Inc., 781 F.3d 1296, 1301 (11th Cir. 2015). Generally, a
complaint should include “enough information regarding
the material elements of a cause of action to support
recovery under some ‘viable legal theory.'”
Am. Fed'n of Labor & Cong. of Indus. Orgs. v.
City of Miami, Fla., 637 F.3d 1178, 1186 (11th Cir .
2011), quoting Roe v. Aware Woman Ctr. for Choice,
Inc., 253 F.3d 678, 683-84 (11th Cir. 2001). In
reviewing this case, this Court notes that “[p]ro se
pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than
pleadings drafted by attorneys and will, therefore, be
liberally construed.” Tannenbaum v. United
States, 148 F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998)(per
Claims and the City's Counterclaim
amended complaint, Ruggieri first reasserted his ADA claim.
Additionally, Ruggieri raised the following claims: (1)
“Tampering with Evidence”; (2) “False Light
Defamation of Character”; (3) a violation of the
Electronic Communication Privacy Act (“ECPA”);
(4) invasion of privacy; (5) a violation of his Fourth
Amendment rights; (6) slander and libel; (7) and
“Targeting.” (Doc. 35). The City asserted a
counterclaim against Ruggieri in which it asserted that
Ruggieri is required to reimburse the City for tuition
payments that it made for Ruggieri to attend classes at the
University of Alabama at Birmingham. Although Ruggieri denied
that he owes any money to the City, he has not moved to
dismiss its counterclaim.
City's Motion to Dismiss
motion to dismiss, the City addressed each of Ruggieri's
claims in turn. As noted, this Court declines to revisit the
previous judge's ruling in which she denied the
City's motion to dismiss Ruggieri's ADA claim. The
Court will now proceed to ...