United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
Dennis Saylor IV United States District Judge.
a claim for disability discrimination and negligence arising
out of an accident at the South Station Red Line subway
station. Plaintiff David LeClair, who is disabled, was
exiting the subway car in his wheelchair when the front wheel
wedged in the gap between the car and the platform, throwing
him to the ground. The complaint alleges that defendant
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
(“MBTA”) failed to take measures to help disabled
persons use the subway in violation of the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101,
et seq. It further alleges that the MBTA was
negligent in failing to provide plaintiff with safe and
reasonable access to the subway.
has moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. The principal
question is whether plaintiff is bound, in whole or in part,
by the 2006 settlement of a class action brought against the
MBTA for failure to provide disabled persons equal access to
the transit system. For the reasons stated below, the motion
will be granted in part, and the Court will decline to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining
facts are set forth as described in the complaint.
LeClair is a disabled person who requires a wheelchair to
move because of a double leg amputation in 2013. (Compl.
¶ 11). On June 25, 2014, he was traveling to visit his
mother. (Id. ¶ 12). He boarded the Orange Line
at the Back Bay station and took an inbound train to Downtown
Crossing, where he transferred to a southbound Red Line
train. (Id. ¶ 13). When the train reached South
Station, LeClair attempted to wheel himself onto the subway
platform. (Id. ¶ 19). However, the front wheel
“went into the gap” between the car and the
platform, causing him to be thrown forward onto the platform.
(Id. ¶ 21). The Red Line train conductor did
not leave the subway car to offer assistance, although
several passengers helped LeClair get back into his
wheelchair. (Id. ¶¶ 22-23).
getting back into the wheelchair, LeClair pushed an emergency
button at the station platform. (Id. ¶ 23).
However, according to the complaint, no MBTA employee
assisted or spoke with him until he located a MBTA inspector
to report the incident. (Id.). At Back Bay, Downtown
Crossing, and South Station, LeClair was unable to locate
MBTA employees who could provide assistance to disabled
passengers and help them enter and exit subway cars.
(Id. ¶¶ 14-15). Nor were there any signs
or warnings posted about the risk gaps between subway cars
and platforms posed to wheelchair-bound individuals.
(Id. ¶¶ 16, 20).
complaint alleges that the injuries sustained from
LeClair's fall required surgery that removed a remaining
portion of both legs. (Id. ¶ 24). The surgery
also prevented him from ever being able to use prosthetic
devices. (Id. ¶ 25).
complaint asserts two claims against defendant: a claim for
violation of the ADA (Count 1) and a state-law negligence
claim (Count 2). Count 1 sets forth six alleged violations of
the ADA. Defendant has moved to dismiss Count 1 on the
grounds that the injunctive relief sought is barred by the
doctrine of claim preclusion (also known as res
judicata) and release and that money damages may not be
awarded in the absence of intentional discrimination.
Defendant has also moved to dismiss Count 2 on the basis of
motion to dismiss, the court “must assume the truth of
all well-plead[ed] facts and give . . . plaintiff the benefit
of all reasonable inferences therefrom.” Ruiz v.
Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp., 496 F.3d 1, 5 (1st
Cir. 2007) (citing Rogan v. Menino, 175 F.3d 75, 77
(1st Cir. 1999)). To survive a motion to dismiss, the
complaint must state a claim that is plausible on its face.
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007). In other words, the “[f]actual allegations must
be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level, . . . on the assumption that all the allegations in
the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).”
Id. at 555 (citations omitted). “The
plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability
requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Dismissal is appropriate
if the complaint fails to set forth “factual
allegations, either direct or inferential, respecting each
material element necessary to sustain recovery under some
actionable legal theory.” Gagliardi v.
Sullivan, 513 F.3d 301, 305 (1st Cir. 2008) (quoting
Centro Medico del Turabo, Inc. v. Feliciano de
Melecio, 406 F.3d 1, 6 (1st Cir. 2005)).
Count One - Violation of the ADA
Count One, plaintiff seeks both injunctive relief and money
damages arising out of alleged violations of the ADA. The
equitable and legal aspects of the claim require different
analyses, and will be addressed separately.
contends that plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief
under the ADA is barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion,
or res judicata. “Res judicata is a
valid defense to a later suit if (1) there is a final
judgment on the merits of an earlier action, and (2) there is
identity of the parties and (3) identity of the claims in
both suits.” Reppert v. Marvin Lumber & Cedar
Co.,359 F.3d 53, 56 (1st Cir. 2004) (citing United
States v. Cunan, 156 F.3d 110, 114 (1st Cir. 1998)).
“In appropriate circumstances these rules are
applicable to class actions.” Id. (citing
Matsuhita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Epstein, 516
U.S. 367, 379 (1996)). However, courts have stated that claim