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Moore v. National YMCA, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

August 28, 2019

MICHAEL J. MOORE, Plaintiff,
NATIONAL YMCA, INC., et al., Defendants.



         Currently before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim [16]. For the reasons explained below, the motion is granted in part and denied in part. Defendant McFadden is dismissed from the case; however, the suit may proceed against the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago. The Court sets the case for further status on September 10, 2019, at 9:00 a.m. to discuss (1) whether Plaintiff would like to file an amended complaint, (2) whether Defendant would like to file a renewed motion to dismiss, (3) if the case should proceed into discovery, and (4) the identity of the proper entity defendant.[1] Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment [23] remains continued.


         I. Background[2]

         In October 2018, Plaintiff entered a lease for a room at the Lakeview YMCA. [1, ¶ 1] As part of that lease, Plaintiff “automatically” received a “membership” in the Lakeview YMCA Fitness Center which included the use of all accompanying facilities. [Id.] Plaintiff was issued a picture ID consistent with that membership. [Id.] Shortly thereafter, while working out one day, the Lakeview YMCA Fitness Director-referred to only as “Carl” in the complaint-approached Plaintiff and informed him that he could not “participate in the heavy-lifting weight room because you are blind.”[3] [Id. ¶ 2.] Plaintiff protested and asserted that he had the right to continue to use the weight room. [Id.]

         Approximately a week after that encounter, Plaintiff met with Carl again. [Id. ¶ 3.] At that meeting, Carl explained that Plaintiff could only use the weight room if he “brought someone with him whenever he wished to do so.” [Id.] Plaintiff refused this arrangement, noting that it would be impossible for him to depend on others under the circumstances. [Id.] He also noted that no other gym members were required to have someone with them. [Id.] Upon Plaintiff's refusal of the proposed arrangement, Carl informed Plaintiff that his membership at the Lakeview YMCA Fitness Center would be terminated. [Id. ¶ 4.] Plaintiff then proposed to sign a waiver of liability, which Carl rejected. [Id. ¶ 4.]

         Plaintiff subsequently filed this action on February 6, 2019, asserting that Defendants- National YMCA Inc., Lakeview YMCA Fitness Center (together “the YMCA Defendants”), and Jeremy McFadden, Director [of the Lakeview YMCA]-violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. He seeks the reinstatement of his gym membership and a “substantial fine.” See generally [1]. Defendants have subsequently moved to dismiss, asserting that Plaintiff's complaint fails to adequately plead grounds for jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and fails to adequately plead facts to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). See generally [16].

         II. Legal Standard

         A Rule 12(b)(1) motion seeks the dismissal of an action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. If a defendant challenges the sufficiency of the allegations regarding subject matter jurisdiction, the Court accepts all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Apex Digital, Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 572 F.3d. 440, 443-44 (7th Cir. 2009); United Phosphorus, Ltd. v. Angus Chem. Co., 322 F.3d. 942 (7th Cir. 2003) (en banc), overruled on other grounds by Minn-Chem, Inc. v. Agrium, Inc., 683 F.3d. 845 (7th Cir. 2012). In ruling on the motion, the Court may look beyond the jurisdictional allegations alleged in the complaint and take into consideration whatever evidence has been submitted on the issue to determine if subject matter jurisdiction exists. Evers v. Astrue, 536 F.3d. 651, 656-57 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting St. John's United Church of Christ v. City of Chicago, 502 F.3d. 616, 625 (7th Cir. 2007). The party asserting jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing that jurisdiction is satisfied. Glaser v. Wound Care Consultants, Inc., 570 F.3d. 907, 913 (7th Cir. 2009).

         To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the complaint first must comply with Rule 8(a) “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), such that the defendant is given “fair notice of what the * * * claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 46 (1957)) (alternation in original). Second, the factual allegations in the complaint must be sufficient to raise the possibility of relief above the “speculative level.” E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs. Inc. 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting 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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Dismissal for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) is proper “when the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 558. In reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the Court accepts as true all of Plaintiffs' well-pleaded factual allegations and draws all reasonable inferences in Plaintiffs' favor. Killingsworth v. HSBC Bank Nevada, N.A., 507 F.3d. 614, 618 (7th Cir. 2007). Evaluating whether a claim is sufficiently plausible to survive a motion to dismiss is “‘a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'” McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d. 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). Finally, courts construe pro se complaints liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam).

         III. Analysis

         Defendants propose two grounds for dismissal: first, that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims; second, that even if the Court does have jurisdiction, the complaint fails to state a claim. The Court turns first to the threshold issue of its subject matter jurisdiction. Cook v. Winfrey, 141 F.3d 322, 324 (7th Cir. 1998).

         A. Jurisdiction

         Defendants contend that this action must be dismissed because Plaintiff fails to allege any federal question to be resolved or diversity amongst the parties. Plaintiff's response concedes that there is no diversity but maintains that there is a federal question. ...

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