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Doe v. Law School Admission Council, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

October 20, 2017

JANE DOE Plaintiff, pro se
v.
LAW SCHOOL ADMISSION COUNCIL, INC. Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NITZA I. QUIÑONES ALEJANDRO, J.

         INTRODUCTION

         Before this Court is a motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Rules”) 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) by Defendant Law School Admission Council, Inc., (“Defendant”), [ECF 10], which seeks the dismissal of the claims asserted against it based on a lack of subject matter jurisdiction and a failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted. Plaintiff Jane Doe (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, opposes the motion. [ECF 12]. The issues raised in the motion to dismiss have been fully briefed and are ripe for disposition.

         For the reasons stated herein, the motion to dismiss is granted.

         BACKGROUND

         On July 20, 2016, Plaintiff filed a pro se complaint in which she avers, inter alia, that in 2015 and 2016, Defendant violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the “ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq., when it denied her requests for accommodations during multiple administrations of the Law School Admissions Test (the “LSAT”). [ECF 1, 5]. On April 3, 2017, Defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss the complaint. When considering Defendant's motion to dismiss, this Court accepts, as true, all relevant factual allegations in the complaint. See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 579 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). These allegations are summarized as follows:

Defendant is a business entity that administers the LSAT, a standardized examination that is required for admission to accredited law schools in the United States. (See Compl. at ¶¶ 3, 5). The LSAT is administered four times a year at designated testing centers throughout the United States. (Id. at ¶ 9). The LSAT is comprised of six sections that measure an applicant's reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning skills. (Id.). These sections are comprised of one reading comprehension section, two logical reasoning sections, one analytical reasoning section, one writing sample, and one “experimental section” that can be either a reading comprehension, analytical, or logical reasoning section. (Id.).
Plaintiff alleges that she suffers from numerous permanent disabilities, including, inter alia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia, a reading disorder. (Id. at ¶ 8). Plaintiff alleges that she applied for, and was denied, testing accommodations for LSAT administrations in 2008 and 2009. (Id. at ¶ 7). Plaintiff also submitted a timely request in April 2015 for an accommodation of extra time on the June 2015 LSAT, but Defendant denied her request due to a lack of the requisite documentation. (See Id. at ¶ 9). After a series of accommodation requests that were denied, Plaintiff filed this action seeking redress for the “April 17, 2015 to present, and the upcoming October 2016 accommodation request.” (Id. at ¶ 7).

         LEGAL STANDARDS

         Defendant argues, inter alia, that (1) this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over all of Plaintiff s claims because they are not ripe for review; (2) Counts I through IV fail, as a matter of law, to the extent that they seek monetary damages since Title III explicitly provides litigants with the right to pursue only injunctive relief; and (3) to the extent that the claims are ripe for review, Counts I and IV must be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) as they fail to state a cognizable claim. Plaintiff refutes these arguments generally and argues that the claims, as pled, are both ripe and legally sufficient.

         As noted, Defendant moves to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Under Rule 12(b)(1), a court must grant a motion to dismiss if it lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear a claim. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). “If a claim is not ripe, the court should dismiss it for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.” River Thames Ins. Co. v. 5329 West, Inc., 1995 WL 241490, at *2 (E.D. Pa. 1995). Because this Court finds that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction, it need not consider the arguments made for dismissal under Rule 12 (b)(6).

         In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, a court must first determine whether the movant presents a facial or factual attack. Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977); Constitution Party of Pa. v. Aichele, 757 F.3d 347, 357 (3d Cir. 2014). In reviewing a facial challenge where the sufficiency of the pleadings is contested, “the court must only consider the allegations of the complaint and documents referenced therein and attached thereto, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Gould Elec. Inc. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 176 (3d Cir. 2000). Where a Rule 12(b)(1) motion is filed prior to an answer, as is the case here, it will be considered a facial challenge to jurisdiction.[1] Id. at 358.

         When considering such a facial challenge, a court must apply the same standard of review that is applied to a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Id. As such, well-pleaded factual allegations are taken as true, and reasonable inferences are drawn in the plaintiffs favor. Id. A complaint will be dismissed for lack of standing or subject matter jurisdiction only if it appears that the plaintiff will not be able to assert a colorable claim of subject matter jurisdiction. Cardio-Med. Assocs., Ltd. v. Crozer-Chester Med. Ctr., 721 F.2d 68, 75 (3d Cir. 1983). The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction. See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992).

         Even though pleadings and other submissions by pro se litigants are subject to liberal construction and courts are required to accept the truth of a plaintiffs well-pleaded allegations while drawing reasonable inferences in the plaintiffs favor, Wallace v. Fegan, 455 Fed.Appx. 137, 139 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Capogrosso v. Sup. Ct. of N.J.,588 F.3d 180, 184 (3d Cir. 2009) (per curiam)), a pro se complaint must still ‚Äúcontain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ...


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