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Ford v. Exelis, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

May 19, 2014

ANTOINETTE L. FORD, Plaintiff,
v.
EXELIS, INC. and L-3 COMMUNICATIONS, Defendants. ANTOINETTE L. FORD, Plaintiff,
v.
EXELIS, INC. and L-3 COMMUNICATIONS, Defendants.

LOUISE W. FLANAGAN, District Judge.

In this consolidated action, [1] defendant L-3 Communications, which asserts its correct name is L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, LLC ("L-3") moves to stay conference required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(f) and entry of a scheduling order issued pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b) (DE 18). Defendant Exelis, Inc. also asserts here issues as to its identity, and brings a motion for an order substituting Exelis Systems Corporation ("Exelis Systems") for Exelis, Inc. (DE 20). Plaintiff has responded to the motion to stay (DE 24), but did not respond to the motion to substitute. Also before the court is defendant L-3's motion to dismiss, directed to plaintiff's complaint filed January 24, 2014 (DE 16), and this defendant's motion to withdraw that motion (DE 29), in light of the amended complaint filed May 8, 2014 (DE 26), where it now has moved to dismiss the amended complaint (DE 27). A number of the issues raised are now ripe for review.

BACKGROUND

In complaint filed January 24, 2014, plaintiff, proceeding pro se, variously alleges during previous employment with defendant Exelis Inc. concluding in 2013, that she was subjected to retaliation, discrimination on the basis of race and sex, and experienced a hostile work environment, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e et seq. Plaintiff also brings claims for tortious interference and defamation. Plaintiff's allegations appear to devolve around a failure of Exelis, Inc. to promote her within a warehouse distribution complex being operated at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, and some corresponding denial of a position of employment with L-3 Communications. Defendant Exelis, Inc. filed answer on February 18, 2014, denying that plaintiff is entitled to relief and asserting defenses of lack of subject matter jurisdiction, statute of limitations, conduct outside the course and scope of individual employment, good faith efforts to comply with Title VII and all applicable anti-discrimination laws, and failure to mitigate damages.

On April 14, 2014, defendant L-3 filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) and failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) (DE 16). It filed the instant motion to stay on April 14, 2014, and defendant Exelis, Inc. filed its motion to substitute party defendant the following day.

Plaintiff filed amended complaint on May 8, 2014, unaccompanied by any motion to amend. Later, motion to withdraw was filed related to the earlier filed motion to dismiss, on behalf of defendant L-3. Its motion to dismiss directed against the amended complaint remains pending. Plaintiff's response time has not yet run to that motion just filed May 16, 2014.

DISCUSSION

The court first will address issues concerning alignment of defendants and then those related to the amended complaint. Finally, it will address the motion to stay.

A. Alignment of Defendants

Defendant Exelis, Inc.'s motion to substitute states that, at the times alleged in the complaint, Exelis Systems was in fact plaintiff's employer. This defendant asserts that Exelis, Inc. is the parent corporation of Exelis Systems, and it never has been plaintiff's employer. In support, defendant Exelis Systems has submitted a declaration from its Senior Human Resources Manager. (DE 20-1). Plaintiff has failed to respond to the instant motion; however, as the court noted April 4, 2014, plaintiff did not then concede, in the context of the motion to consolidate, that Exelis Systems is the proper party (DE 13).

The answer of this defendant earlier filed informs, too, of the incorrect identification by plaintiff. That answer filed February 18, 2014, is asserted to be the answer of Exelis Systems. Where no opposition has been raised to the instant motion, good cause having been shown, the court grants Exelis, Inc.'s motion. See Carr v. Norfolk So. Corp., No. 94-1684, 1995 WL 3002, at *1 (4th Cir. Jan. 4, 1995) (granting unopposed motion to substitute defendant as plaintiff's "actual employer"). Defendant Exelis Systems now is substituted for Exelis, Inc., and future filings shall bear the name of this defendant as Exelis Systems Corporation.

Plaintiff has named L3 Communications also as a defendant. However, in its motion to stay, this defendant informs that it has been identified incorrectly. It should be referred to properly as L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, LLC. Plaintiff's response to that motion concedes this, where she refers to defendant as L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, LLC. Accordingly, the name of this defendant shall be correctedto reflect the name of defendant as L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, LLC, and future filings shall show this to be the name of this defendant.

The Clerk also is directed to conform the docket to reflect defendants in this action are Exelis Systems Corporation and L-3 ...


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