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Doe v. Mass. Dep't of Corr.

United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts

June 14, 2018, Decided; June 14, 2018, Filed

CIVIL ACTION NO. 17-12255-RGS

Opinion

MEMORANDUM AND [*2]  ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

STEARNS, D.J.

Plaintiff Jane Doe is a transgender woman, currently housed at MCI-Norfolk, a men's prison overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC). Doe brought this Complaint against the DOC and several of its officials1, alleging that she has been discriminated against in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. (ADA), and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 701, et seq. The Complaint alleges that defendants have failed to make reasonable accommodations of her Gender Dysphoria (GD) disability. It also alleges violations of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, and violations of the Federal Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

The defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Doe countered with a Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, seeking among other forms of relief a transfer to MCI-Framingham, a Massachusetts women's prison. The court heard oral argument on both motions on February 28, 2018. At that hearing, a principal issue was whether Doe's GD fits within the ADA's exclusion of "transvestism, transsexualism, pedophilia, gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments, [*3]  or other sexual behavioral disorders" from the definition of "disability," 42 U.S.C. § 12211(b)(1), and if so, whether the exclusion is constitutional as applied to Doe.

The court, deeming the constitutional question to be substantial, certified a question to the U.S. Attorney General pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 5.1(b), and 28 U.S.C. § 2403, see Dkt #57, and reserved ruling on the defendants' Motion to Dismiss. However, recognizing the exigencies underlying Doe's claim, the court granted her Motion for a Preliminary Injunction in part, ordering the defendants — whenever feasible and consistent with the DOC's applicable collective bargaining agreements and staffing availability — to: (1) utilize female corrections officers when conducting strip searches of Doe; (2) to make permanent the arrangement permitting Doe to shower at different times than male inmates; and (3) to station a corrections officer as a privacy guard while Doe showered. See Dkt #59.

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2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99925 *; 2018 WL 2994403

JANE DOE v. MASSACHUSETTS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, et al.

Prior History: Doe v. Mass. Dep't of Corr., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35022 (D. Mass., Mar. 5, 2018)

CORE TERMS

gender, inmates, disability, sex, disorders, motion to dismiss, transgender, classification, prison, male, alleges, female, shower, housing, assigned, birth, purposes, sexual, Injunction, Dysphoria, woman, major life activity, physical impairment, demonstrating, hormones, corrections officer, accommodations, experienced, impairment, diagnosed