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United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Macon Division
October 30, 2020, Decided; October 30, 2020, Filed
CIVIL ACTION NO. 5:19-cv-392 (MTT)
Plaintiff Anna Lange brought this action challenging a provision in an employee healthcare plan that excludes coverage for "sex change surgery." The Defendants moved [*2] to dismiss all claims, pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the following reasons, Defendant Sheriff Talton's motion to dismiss on sovereign immunity grounds (Doc. 61) is DENIED, and the Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim (Doc. 62) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
Plaintiff Anna Lange is a Deputy Sheriff at the Houston County Sheriff's Office, where she has worked since 2006. Doc. 56 ¶ 2. In 2017, Lange was diagnosed by her healthcare provider with gender dysphoria, which, she alleges, is "defined in the American Psychiatric Association's authoritative treatise, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition ("DSM-5"), as a condition characterized by a marked incongruence between one's gender assigned at birth and one's internal sense or experience of gender, which results in clinically significant distress." Id. ¶¶ 61, 49. As treatment for her gender dysphoria, Lange has begun using a female name and female pronouns, started wearing typical women's clothing, started receiving hormone therapy, and started identifying as female to her family, friends, employers, and coworkers. Id. at 61-65. In April 2018, Lange received feminizing chest surgery, [*3] and she now seeks feminizing genital surgery. Id. at 66-69. She alleges she seeks feminizing genital surgery on the advice of her endocrinologist, two psychologists, and a surgeon. Id. ¶ 69.
Lange receives healthcare benefits1 as an employment benefit of her job at the Houston County Sheriff's Office. She alleges that the Sheriff's Office and Houston County "have entered into an arrangement under which Sheriff Talton has delegated to Houston County the obligation to provide the Sheriff's Office employees with fringe benefits and other essential employer functions." Id. ¶ 72. In other words, Sheriff's Office employees are allowed to participate in the County's health plan. The County's health plan is funded by the County and employee contributions. The Plan is administered by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. One does not stray from the record to infer that Anthem has expertise and experience in the drafting and administration of health plans and that the County sought Anthem's assistance, to some degree, because of that expertise and experience.
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2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 202246 *; 499 F. Supp. 3d 1258; 105 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P46,638; 2020 WL 6372702
ANNA LANGE, Plaintiff, v. HOUSTON COUNTY, Georgia, et al., Defendants.
Subsequent History: Reconsideration denied by Lange v. Houston Cty., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 240436 (M.D. Ga., Dec. 22, 2020)
sheriff's office, alleges, Sheriff, gender, disability, employees, argues, Defendants', motion to dismiss, arm, dysphoria, sex, individual capacity, benefits, discriminate, equal protection claim, immunity, surgery, entity, cases, health plan, transgender, facially, marks, legislative immunity, sovereign immunity, delegated, qualified immunity, cause of action, quotation
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