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Maria Mahmood v. National Board of Medical Examiners

June 21, 2012

MARIA MAHMOOD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NATIONAL BOARD OF MEDICAL EXAMINERS, DEFENDANT.



MEMORANDUM

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), Defendant National Board of Medical Examiners ("NBME") seeks to dismiss Plaintiff Maria Mahmood's claims of cruel and unusual punishment, violation of due process, commingling of investigative and adjudicatory functions, and failure to accommodate a disability. Alternatively, pursuant to Rule 56(a), NBME seeks summary judgment on these claims. Mahmood, meanwhile, seeks a preliminary or permanent injunction requiring NBME to allow her to take the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam, Clinical Knowledge Part II ("USMLE CK-II"). For the following reasons, NBME's motion to dismiss is GRANTED on Counts I-III and DENIED on Count IV, and Mahmood's motion for a preliminary or permanent injunction is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND*fn1

Mahmood attended medical school at the University of Illinois at Chicago ("UIC").

Compl. ¶ 12, Mahmood v. Nat'l Bd. Med. Exam'rs, No. 12-1544 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 27, 2012). One of UIC's graduation requirements is the successful completion of the USMLE CK-II, for which Mahmood registered. Id. ¶ 13.

Mahmood is legally blind and required special equipment to take the examination. Id. ¶ 26. On the day of the examination, NBME "did not have the proper disability accommodations under the ADA" that Mahmood required. Id. ¶ 27. She then started a small fire in a restroom in the examination building, which led to her arrest. Id. ¶¶ 17, 20. She pled guilty to malicious destruction of property.*fn2 NBME subsequently suspended Mahmood from taking the USMLE CK-II for three years on the basis of "irregular behavior." Id. ¶ 23.

Mahmood filed her complaint on March 27, 2012. In Count I, she maintains NBME violated her "constitutional rights . . . to be free from cruel and unusual punishment." In Count II, she alleges NBME violated her Fourteenth Amendment right to procedural and substantive due process. In Count III, she argues NBME violated her civil rights by "commingl[ing] the investigative and adjudicative functions involving the charges against" her. Finally, in Count IV, Mahmood claims NBME violated the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., by failing to reasonably accommodate her blindness. On April 19, 2012, Mahmood moved for a preliminary or permanent injunction requiring that NBME permit her to take the USMLE CK-II.

NBME maintains it is not a state actor and thus not subject to suit under 42 U.S.C § 1983 for Counts I-III. Mot. Dismiss, Mahmood v. Nat'l Bd. Med. Exam'rs, No. 12-1544 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 24, 2012). It further maintains Mahmood fails to state a claim under which relief can be granted pursuant to the ADA. Id.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A. Motion to Dismiss*fn3

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993). "[A] 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) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "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." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

I must "accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Grammar, 570 F.3d at 523; see also Byers v. Intuit, Inc., 600 F.3d 286, 291 (3d Cir. 2010). I need not, however, credit a plaintiff's legal conclusions or "threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action supported by mere conclusory statements." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

B. Motion for Preliminary Injunction*fn4

"A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that [s]he is likely to succeed on the merits, that [s]he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in [her] favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest." Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008). A mere possibility of irreparable harm is insufficient. "'[I]njunctive relief [is] an extraordinary remedy that may only be awarded upon a clear showing that the plaintiff is ...


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