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Campbell v. Southeastern Regional Medical Center

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

October 17, 2014

STAFFIONEY CAMPBELL, Plaintiff,
v.
SOUTHEASTERN REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

TERRENCE W. BOYLE, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 10 [DE 23] and plaintiff's motion to amend her complaint [DE 31]. The motions are ripe for adjudication. For the reasons stated herein, defendants' motion to dismiss is GRANTED and plaintiff's motion to amend is DENIED AS FUTILE.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Ms. Campbell, initiated this action by filing a pro se complaint and a request to proceed informapauperis with the Court on February 24, 2014. On March 7, 2014, the Court granted plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis. Plaintiff brings a race-based claim of employment discrimination against defendant under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). While the complaint is somewhat unclear as to plaintiff's theories of employment discrimination, they appear to be based on a hostile work employment, retaliation, and disparate treatment. Defendants move to dismiss plaintiff's complaint as to the individual defendants alleging that Title VII does not provide for claims against them, and as to all defendants alleging failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Rule 12(b)(6) and failure to comply with the pleading requirement under Rule 10.

DISCUSSION

The pleading requirements of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure are designed to "give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiffs claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Slade v. Hampton Roads Reg'l Jail, 407 F.3d 243, 252 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Conely v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Courts should be liberal in their construction of prose complaints, but they should not go beyond deciphering the meaning of words written in the complaint to attempt to discern the unexpressed intent of the plaintiff. Laber v. Harvey, 438 F.3d 404, 413 (4th Cir. 2006). Liberal construction of the complaint is especially appropriate when a prose plaintiff raises civil rights issues. Smith v. Smith, 589 F.3d 736, 738 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Loe v. Armistead, 582 F.2d 1291, 1295 (4th Cir. 1978).

Motion to Dismiss

I. INDIVIDUAL DEFENDANTS

The Court first addresses Ms. Campbell's claims against the individual defendants, Joanna Anderson, Amy Hammonds, James McLeod, M.D., Jessica Taylor, Jackie Strickland, Dean Ruth, and Lynn Wheatley (sic). Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the bases of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2. The enforcement provision of Title VII allows actions against an "employer, employment agency, labor organization, or joint labor-management committee." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(b). Title VII defines an employer in pertinent part as "a person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has fifteen or more employees." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(b). The Fourth Circuit has "expressly held that Title VII does not provide a remedy against individual defendants who do not qualify as employers.'" Baird ex rel. Baird v. Rose, 192 F.3d 462, 472 (4th Cir. 1999). Individual supervisors do not fit within the definition of an employer. Lissau v. Southern Food Serv., Inc., 159 F.3d 177, 180-81 (4th Cir. 1998). Plaintiff's Title VII claims against all individual defendants must fail as a matter of law, as she has alleged no facts that demonstrate these individuals qualify as employers. Therefore, dismissal as to the individual defendants is appropriate.

II. FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion challenges the legal sufficiency of a plaintiffs complaint. Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 2009). When ruling on the motion, the court "must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Although complete and detailed factual allegations are not required, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds; ofhis entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal citations omitted). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Similarly, a trial court is "not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

A. Disparate Treatment

In order to establish a prima facie case for disparate treatment under Title VII, plaintiff must show that she belongs to a protected class, was subjected to adverse employment actions, maintained satisfactory job performance, and that similarly employees outside her class received more favorable treatment. See, e.g., White v. BFI Waste Servs., LLC, 375 F.3d 288, 295 (4th Cir. 2004). On a motion to dismiss, the Court may only consider the complaint in its entirety, including any documents incorporated or attached thereto. E.I. DuPont Nemours & Co. v. Kalan Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 448 (4th Cir. 2011). Ms. Campbell did not allege her race in the complaint. Moreover, plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that similarly situated employees outside her class received more favorable treatment. Plaintiff merely alleges that employees Jackie Strickland and Jessica Taylor were allowed to work overtime, while she was not. These employees are identified in the complaint as an RN and an LPN, respectively. Ms. Campbell was a clinical assistant. Giving plaintiffs complaint ...


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