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Mutter v. Bragg

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division

January 14, 2018

DIANE J. MUTTER, Plaintiff,
v.
MELISSA BRAGG, DAVID PRZESTRZELSKI, PATRICIA FULLER, and ROBERT A. McDONALD, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND RECOMMENDATION

          Dennis L. Howell, United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (# 17) pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). The issues have been fully briefed, and the matter is now ripe for ruling. For the reasons addressed below, this Court will recommend that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss be GRANTED.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         On September 16, 2016, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed this action using a Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. form complaint (# 1). On October 24, 2016, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint (# 4). In Plaintiff's amended complaint, she alleges the following: Plaintiff was employed by Defendants at Charles George Veterans Affairs (“VA”) Medical Center, which is located at 1100 Tunnel Road in Asheville, North Carolina. Am. Compl. (# 4) at 2. The discriminatory acts that serve as the basis for Plaintiff's allegations occurred around September 27, 2004. Id. The discriminatory acts against Plaintiff include the following: failure to employ her; termination of her employment; failure to comply with the September 27, 2004, settlement agreement; and continuing to provide negative, incorrect information regarding prior employment until at least June, 2016. Id. at 4. As a result of Defendants' discriminatory conduct, Plaintiff has suffered mental anguish, financial ruin, violation of unalienable rights, and post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”). Id. at 5-6. Plaintiff seeks “compensatory relief” from September 27, 2004 to the present and compensation for mental anguish, pain and suffering, PTSD, and case-related costs. Id. at 8.

         Plaintiff filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on or about January 12, 2015. Id. at 4. Plaintiff received a “Notice of Right to Sue” from the EEOC on June 16, 2016. Id.

         On February 2, 2017, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (#12), in which they moved for an order dismissing Plaintiff's case in its entirety for two reasons. First, Defendants argued that the complaint should be dismissed, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), because the Court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's breach of settlement agreement claim. Second, Defendants argued that Plaintiff's breach of settlement agreement claim was time barred and should be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 56. Moreover, to the extent that any cause of action survived dismissal, Defendants argued that it should proceed solely against “Robert D. Snyder, Acting Secretary of the Department of Veteran Affairs, ” and any remaining Defendants should be dismissed because the Secretary of the VA, in his official capacity, is the only proper defendant in the action.

         On March 13, 2017, the Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment was denied without prejudice to renew. Defendants were advised that this Court will no longer consider “dual” motions under both Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12 and 56, or a motion to dismiss that moves in the alternative for dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.

         On March 23, 2017, Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss (# 17). On April 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed a letter to the presiding District Judge (# 18), which the undersigned construes as an Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. On April 10, 2017, Defendants filed a Notice of intent not to file a reply (#19).

         II. Legal Standards

         A. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1)

         A motion to dismiss based on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) addresses whether the court has subject-matter jurisdiction to hear the dispute. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Where a defendant contends that a complaint fails to allege facts upon which the court can base subject matter jurisdiction, the court, like ruling on a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), assumes as true the factual allegations in the complaint. Adams v. Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982). If, however, the defendant contends that the jurisdictional allegations contained in the complaint are false, the court may go beyond the allegations of the complaint and conduct an evidentiary hearing in order to determine if there are facts to support the court's exercise of jurisdiction over the dispute. Id. The burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction on a motion to dismiss rests with the party asserting jurisdiction. Id.; Williams v. United States, 50 F.3d 299, 304 (4th Cir. 1995).

         B. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)

         The central issue for resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is whether the complaint states a plausible claim for relief. See Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 189 (4th Cir. 2009). In considering a defendant's motion, the court accepts the allegations in the complaint as true and construes them in the light most favorable to plaintiff. Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v. Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 253 (4th Cir. 2009); Giacomelli, 588 F.3d at 192. Although a court accepts well-pled facts as true, it is not required to accept “legal conclusions, elements of a cause of action, and bare assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.” Consumeraffairs.com, 591 F.3d at 255; see Giacomelli, 588 F.3d at 192.

         The claims need not contain “detailed factual allegations, ” but must contain sufficient factual allegations to suggest the required elements of a cause of action. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); see Consumeraffairs.com, 591 F.3d at 256. “[A] formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Nor will mere labels and legal conclusions suffice. Id. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 ...


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