United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
OPINION AND ORDER
LEON HOLMES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the second motion for summary judgment in this action. In the
previous motion, the Court dismissed Vivian Hawkins's
individual capacity claims against Cindy Gillespie, Brenda
Jackson, Steven Petersen, Kevin Stacker, and Zofia
Higginbotham. The Court also dismissed her Family Medical
Leave Act retaliation claim, section 1983 claim, and common
law claims for outrage and battery. Her claims against the
defendants in their official capacities under the Americans
with Disabilities Act and section 504 of the Rehabilitation
Act remain. The defendants now move for summary judgment on
these claims. The motion is granted in part and denied in
should grant summary judgment if the evidence demonstrates
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden
of demonstrating the absence of a genuine dispute for trial.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106
S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). If the moving party
meets that burden, the nonmoving party must come forward with
specific facts that establish a genuine dispute of material
fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89
L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Torgerson v. City of Rochester,
643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011) (en banc). A genuine
dispute of material fact exists only if the evidence is
sufficient to allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict in
favor of the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The Court must view the evidence in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party and must give
that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences that can
be drawn from the record. Pedersen v. Bio-Med.
Applications of Minn., 775 F.3d 1049, 1053 (8th Cir.
2015). If the nonmoving party fails to present evidence
sufficient to establish an essential element of a claim on
which that party bears the burden of proof, then the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
defendants argue that sovereign immunity bars Hawkins's
ADA and section 504 claims because she is seeking monetary
relief against the defendants in their official capacities.
It is true that suits seeking money damages because of a
state's noncompliance with Title I of the ADA are barred
by the eleventh amendment. See Bd. of Trustees of Univ.
of Ala. v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356, 360, 121 S.Ct. 955,
960, 148 L.Ed.2d 866 (2001). Hawkins, however, responds that
she “seeks injunctive relief under the ADA, and is
pursuing all available remedies, including money damages,
under Section 504.” Document #59 at 7. Claims for
injunctive relief against officers of a state government can
be pursued under the Ex parte Young doctrine. Ex
parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 28 S.Ct. 441, 52 L.Ed. 714
(1908); see also Garrett, 531 U.S. at 374 n.9, 121
S.Ct. at 968.
defendants maintain that Hawkins's section 504 claim is
barred by sovereign immunity. They say that section 504
claims are “similar in substance” to ADA claims
and cases interpreting the ADA apply interchangeably to
section 504 claims. Document #56 at 7 (citing Randolph v.
Rodgers, 170 F.3d 850, 858 (8th Cir. 1999)). This
argument is incomplete. Randolph, 170 F.3d at 858
(stating that “[t]he ADA and the RA are similar in
substance” and that “cases interpreting either
are applicable and interchangeable, ” “with the
exception of the RA's federal funding requirement”
(quotations and citations omitted)).
504 of the Rehabilitation Act conditions a state's
acceptance of federal funds on that state's waiver of
sovereign immunity. 42 U.S.C. § 2000d-7; Doe v.
Nebraska, 345 F.3d 593, 598 (8th Cir. 2003)
(“Under the Rehabilitation Act, states that accept
federal funds are required by statute to waive their Eleventh
Amendment immunity to § 504 claims.”).
Hawkins's complaint alleges that the Arkansas Department
of Human Services receives federal financial assistance, and
the defendants admit in their answer that the Department
receives funds. Document #8 at ¶9. That the Department
chose to accept federal funds is sufficient to trigger its
waiver of sovereign immunity under section 504. See
Dinkins v. Corr. Med. Servs., 743 F.3d 633, 635 (8th
Cir. 2014); Jim C. v. United States, 235 F.3d 1079,
1080 (8th Cir.2000) (en banc). Hawkins's section 504
claim is not barred by sovereign immunity.
Court converted the defendants' original motion for
judgment on the pleadings to a motion for summary judgment
because they presented evidence outside the record that
Hawkins has resigned from her position with the Department.
The defendants argue that this forecloses her claim for
prospective relief under the ADA. To determine whether the
doctrine of Ex parte Young applies courts
“need only conduct a ‘straightforward inquiry
into whether [the] complaint alleges an ongoing violation of
federal law and seeks relief properly characterized as
prospective.'” Verizon Maryland, Inc. v. Pub.
Serv. Comm'n of Md., 535 U.S. 635, 645, 122 S.Ct.
1753, 1760, 152 L.Ed.2d 871 (2002) (alteration in original)
(citations omitted). Hawkins does not dispute that she has
voluntarily resigned. For the first time, Hawkins raises
reinstatement as one form of prospective relief. Her
complaint does not allege unlawful termination. Although
courts have recognized “that claims for reinstatement
to previous employment satisfy the Ex parte Young
exception to the Eleventh Amendment's sovereign immunity
bar, ” these cases all involve claims of dismissal or
unlawful termination. See State Employees Bargaining
Agent Coal. v. Rowland, 494 F.3d 71, 96 (2d Cir. 2007)
(collecting cases). Because Hawkins has resigned, no
prospective remedy is available.
the defendants move for partial summary judgment on any
remaining claims that fall 180 days before Hawkins filed her
charge of discrimination or that fall after she filed her
charge and have not been exhausted. The defendants'
argument relates to a time-bar that applies only to
Hawkins's claims under the ADA. Cf. Dick v. Dickinson
State Univ., 826 F.3d 1054, 1058 (8th Cir. 2016). As
explained above, Hawkins has no claims remaining under the
ADA, and so the defendants' argument is moot.
foregoing reasons, the defendants' motion is GRANTED IN