United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
R. WOOD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Gregory Lee, appearing pro se, claims that his
former employer, Defendant Chicago Transit Authority
(“CTA”), violated the Americans with Disabilities
Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et
seq., by terminating him on account of his disability
rather than providing him with a reasonable accommodation.
Before the Court is the CTA's motion to dismiss Lee's
third amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6). (Dkt. No. 73.) For the reasons stated
below, the motion is granted. As Lee now has failed multiple
times to state a valid claim, his complaint is dismissed with
complaint currently before the Court constitutes Lee's
fourth attempt to plead a claim for disability
discrimination. Lee's initial complaint in this matter
alleged violations of the ADA and Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
et seq., and sought relief not just for Lee but also
on behalf of a putative class of disabled CTA employees who
had been unlawfully disciplined or terminated because of
their disabilities. (See Dkt. No. 10.) The CTA's
motion to dismiss that complaint was granted and the
complaint was dismissed without prejudice in an oral ruling
during the parties' initial status hearing. (See
Dkt. Nos. 17, 22.) Lee then filed his first amended
complaint, again alleging violations of the ADA and Title
VII, but this time also suggesting a claim for age
discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 621
et seq. (See Dkt. No. 23.) After the CTA
filed a second motion to dismiss along with its answer and
affirmative defenses, Lee was granted leave to file a second
amended complaint to remove the reference to age
discrimination, which he asserted had been made in error.
Like his original complaint, Lee's second amended
complaint alleged violations of the ADA and Title VII.
(See Dkt. No. 36.) The CTA once again filed a motion
to dismiss, which was fully briefed by the parties. The Court
granted the motion and again dismissed the complaint without
prejudice, providing Lee one final opportunity to state a
viable claim. (See Dkt. No. 65.) In its memorandum
opinion and order, the Court provided a detailed explanation
of the second amended complaint's pleading deficiencies
along with clear guidance as to what Lee must allege to state
a claim for disability discrimination. (See Dkt. No.
66.) Lee has now filed a third amended complaint in which he
alleges the following.
the events giving rise to this lawsuit occurred, Lee was
employed as a Transportation Manager for the CTA. (Third Am.
Compl. ¶ 4, Dkt. No. 68.) In February 2010, Lee became
ill while at work and was transported to the hospital in an
ambulance. (Id. ¶ 10.) He subsequently
requested and was approved for short-term disability leave.
(Id. ¶¶ 10, 25.) While on leave, Lee
received a letter from the CTA instructing him to report to
the office of CTA General Manager Carlton Rutherford on
August 16, 2010 to discuss “[his] continued inability
to perform the essential functions of [his] position.”
(Id. ¶ 12 & Ex. 4.) Lee met with Rutherford
as instructed and informed Rutherford that he would not be
released from medical treatment and able to report to work
until late October or early November of 2010. (Id.
¶ 13.) According to Lee, that statement constituted a
request for a reasonable accommodation for his disability.
(Id.) Approximately two weeks after his meeting with
Rutherford, Lee received a letter from the CTA stating that
he was being administratively separated because he had
exhausted his Family and Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”) leave. (Id. ¶ 14 & Ex.
5.) Following his release from medical treatment in November
2010, however, the CTA reinstated Lee to the position of
Transportation Manager. (Id. ¶ 15.)
in April 2011, Lee again began to experience health issues.
(Id. ¶ 16.) He alleges that he was instructed
to contact “Ann Cobb at CTA's central office”
to discuss reasonable accommodations for those issues.
(Id.) Over the next several weeks, he left a number
of messages for Cobb but received no response. (Id.
¶ 17.) In August or September of 2011, Lee spoke with
Cobb directly. (Id.) She instructed him to file a
form and told him that he would receive a response once the
form had been reviewed by a committee. (Id.) In
addition to those communications with Cobb, Lee also alleges
that during a November 2011 meeting, he attempted to discuss
“his ADA issue” with CTA Acting General Manager
Sonnetta Luckey. (Id. ¶ 18.) According to Lee,
Luckey responded by threatening to have him drug tested and
taken out of service. (Id.)
on November 11, 2011, Lee once again became ill at work and
was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, after which he
again requested and was approved for short-term disability
leave. (Id. ¶¶ 19, 26.) The CTA instructed
Lee to contact Luckey on a weekly basis during his leave to
provide “notification of [his] ability/status to return
to work.” (Id. ¶ 21 & Ex. 6.) Lee
claims that he did as instructed from December 2011 through
April 2012. (Id. ¶ 22.) He further claims that
during one of his weekly calls with Luckey, he attempted to
discuss reasonable accommodations to no avail. (Id.
¶ 23.) Lee also sent a letter to Cobb while on leave in
an attempt to discuss reasonable accommodations but he never
received a response (Id. ¶ 20.) In a letter
dated April 3, 2012, the CTA provided Lee with a second
notice of administrative separation. (Id. ¶ 24
& Ex. 7.) The letter states in relevant part:
You have been unable to perform your duties as Transportation
Manager . . . since November 12, 2011. You exhausted your
[FMLA] entitlement on February 3, 2012. In order to sustain
its operations, [the] CTA must proceed to fill your position.
Therefore, because you are not available to fill this
essential position, you are administratively separated[.]
(Id. Ex. 7.) In response, Lee filed a charge of
discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (“EEOC”). (Id. ¶¶
bringing the present ADA claim, Lee claims that, in both 2010
and 2012, the CTA terminated his employment rather than
accommodate his disability by extending his leave or
providing other reasonable accommodations. (Id.
¶ 27.) According to Lee, at no point during his first or
second disability leave did the CTA attempt to engage in the
interactive process of determining an appropriate
accommodation for his disability. (Id. ¶¶
25-26.) Lee further asserts that the CTA discriminated
against him by maintaining “an inflexible
sick/disability policy and attendance disciplinary policy,
which  provided for termination of his employment,  in
violation of the ADA.” (Id. at
With the present motion, the CTA seeks to dismiss, with
prejudice, the third amended complaint in its entirety.
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a complaint
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss, the short and plain statement must meet two
threshold requirements. First, the complaint's factual
allegations must be sufficient to give the defendant fair
notice of the claim and the grounds upon which it rests.
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007). Second, the complaint “must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). While a complaint need
not contain detailed factual allegations, there “must
be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. “A
pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or
‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not do.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Rather,
“[a] claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Adams v. City of
Indianapolis, 742 F.3d 720, 728 (7th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
se complaints are construed liberally and held to a less
stringent standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers.
Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir.
2011); see also Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.,
722 F.3d 1014, 1027 (7th Cir. 2013) (“[T]he pleading
standards for pro se plaintiffs are considerably
relaxed[.]”). However, pro se plaintiffs are
not excused from meeting the basic requirements of Rule 8(a).
See Pearle Vision, Inc. v. Romm, 541 F.3d 751, 758
(7th Cir. 2008). A pro se complaint still must
provide fair notice of the plaintiff's claims and at
least suggest a plausible right to relief. See Killebrew
v. St. Vincent Health, Inc., 295 F. App'x 808, 810
(7th Cir. 2008) (holding that even with liberal construction,
the pro se plaintiff's complaint did not even
hint at a plausible right to relief and thus failed to
satisfy the lenient notice pleading requirement of Rule
8(a)); see also Srivastava v. Daniels, 409 F.
App'x 953, 955 (7th Cir. 2011) (affirming dismissal of
pro se plaintiff's complaint that did not comply
with Rule 8, where the complaint's length and disjointed
nature made it impossible for the district court to identify
the specific allegations against each defendant and therefore
impossible to determine whether any claims had potential
Qualified Individual ...