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Assist Inc. v. State, Indiana Family and Social Services Administration

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

November 22, 2016

ASSIST INC., DIANNA M. WILLIAMS Individually, and as President and sole owner of Assist, Inc., Plaintiffs,
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, INDIANA FAMILY AND SOCIAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION, DIVISION OF DISABILITY AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, BUREAU OF REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, VOCATIONAL REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, MAJDI EL-ALAMI individually and as Area 17 Supervisor for Vocational Rehabilitative Services, JEFFREY RUSSELL individually and as the Director of Operations for the Bureau of Rehabilitative Services, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Judge

         Plaintiffs Assist, Inc. (“Assist”) and Dianna M. Williams (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) bring various claims against the Defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 because of a decline in the number of referrals Assist has received through the state-run Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Services program. [Filing No. 1.] Presently pending before the Court is Defendant Majdi El-Alami's Motion to Dismiss the equal protection claim Plaintiffs assert against him pursuant to § 1983. [Filing No. 8.] For the reasons stated herein, the Court grants Mr. El-Alami's Motion to Dismiss. [Filing No. 8.]

         I.

         Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) “requires only ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a)(2)). “Specific facts are not necessary, the statement need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (quoting Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         A motion to dismiss asks whether the complaint “contain[s] 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) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must accept all well-pled facts as true and draw all permissible inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Active Disposal, Inc. v. City of Darien, 635 F.3d 883, 886 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court will not accept legal conclusions or conclusory allegations as sufficient to state a claim for relief. See McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 617 (7th Cir. 2011). Factual allegations must plausibly state an entitlement to relief “to a degree that rises above the speculative level.” Munson v. Gaetz, 673 F.3d 630, 633 (7th Cir. 2012). This plausibility determination is “a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id.

         II.

         Relevant Background

         The relevant background is set forth from the allegations of Plaintiffs' Complaint, which the Court must accept as true pursuant to the applicable standard of review at this stage of the proceedings.

         Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Services (“IVRS”) is a state-run program intended to help eligible individuals with disabilities find employment at no charge to the disabled individual. [Filing No. 2 at 4.] Once IVRS receives an application from an individual alleging a disability, an assessment is made and IVRS develops an Individualized Plan for Employment (“IPE”) if the individual is eligible. [Filing No. 2 at 4.] Part of the IPE advises the individual of local service providers that are in the business of locating potential employers. [Filing No. 2 at 4.] The individual is provided with a “Pick List” from which to choose an employment provider. [Filing No. 2-2.] In relevant part, the Pick List provides the following information about choosing a provider:

We encourage you to contact each of the providers on this list. You can call them, set up a meeting, or send an email. Tell them you are a VR client and you would like to talk with them about the services they offer. Take notes so you can compare providers and choose the one that's right for you. Irs important to select the provider you feel most comfortable working with and the one that you think can best help you meet your goals.
Once you've chosen an employment provider, tell your VR counselor. She/he will get things started for you.

[Filing No. 2-2 at 2.]

         Ms. Williams is the President and sole shareholder of Assist. [Filing No. 2 at 3.] Assist is located in Terre Haute, which is in Vigo County. [Filing No. 2 at 3.] Assist has operated as a for-profit corporation since 1991, and its stated mission is to obtain and maintain employment for the physically and emotionally disabled. [Filing No. 2 at 3.] Assist is the first provider listed on the Vigo County Pick List that IVRS provides. [Filing No. 2-2 at 3.] If an eligible individual selects Assist as the ...


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