United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
OSTEEN, JR., DISTRICT JUDGE
before this court is Defendants' joint Motion to Dismiss
pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). (Doc. 11.)
Defendants have also filed a Motion for Protective Order
limiting discovery, (Doc. 18), a Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's intentional infliction of emotional distress
(“IIED”) complaint, (Doc. 21), and a Motion for a
Prefiling Injunction, (Doc. 40).
addition to her original complaint, (Complaint for Employment
Discrimination (“Compl.”) (Doc. 2)), Plaintiff
has filed the following: three motions to amend the complaint
(Docs. 15, 24, 26); an amended complaint, (Doc. 17); a
“motion for jury trial”, (Doc. 20); and a
“motion for court to grant recovery”, (Doc. 31).
Plaintiff has also moved to add Julie Watkins, (Doc. 34), and
Carrie Ingalls, (Doc. 36), as defendants in this matter.
Finally, Plaintiff has filed the following discovery- related
motions: a motion to compel with sanctions, (Doc. 25); a
motion for a court-ordered medical examination of Defendant
Parker, (Doc. 30); and a motion to subpoena, (Doc. 38).
this court finds that none of Plaintiff's timely
pleadings plausibly allege any unlawful activity by
Defendants, Defendants' motion to dismiss will be granted
and Plaintiff's various motions will be denied.
this court believes that Plaintiff's voluminous filing
record in this case represents an attempt to use the federal
judiciary as an outlet for petty personal grievances. To
deter Plaintiff from again using federal resources to
reexamine petty slights and negative social interactions,
this court will dismiss Plaintiff's claims with
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Jamie Starr is proceeding pro se and in forma
pauperis. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff was employed by Defendant
Surya, Inc. (“Surya”) as a Sales Specialist
responsible for accounts in the state of Florida. (Pl.'s
Mot. to Am. Compl. (“Am. Compl.”), Ex. SS (Doc.
15-11) at 1.) Plaintiff began employment with Surya on August
7, 2017. (Id.) Plaintiff reported to Allen Parker,
Sales Manager. (Id.) Surya terminated
Plaintiff's employment on October 20, 2017. (Am. Compl.
(Doc. 15) at 10.)
original complaint, Plaintiff alleges employment
discrimination by Defendants due to her gender, religion
and age in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-5, and the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act (the “ADEA”), 29
U.S.C. §§ 621-634. (Compl. (Doc. 2) at 3.) As far
as this court can discern, Plaintiff has also alleged the
following state law claims in her various subsequent
pleadings: breach of contract, (Am. Compl. (Doc. 15) at 3);
(Pl.'s Mot. to Am. Breach of Contract (“Pl.'s
Mot. to Am.”) (Doc. 24) at 1-2); defamation, (Am.
Compl. (Doc. 15) at 1); negligence, (Pl.'s Am. Compl.
(“IIED Compl.”) (Doc. 17) at 5); IIED, (IIED
Compl. (Doc. 17) at 1); and negligent infliction of emotional
distress (“NIED”), (Pl.'s Mot. to Am. (Doc.
24-1) at 3.) Plaintiff claims damages of over $2 million.
(Doc. 31 at 2.)
initially named Surya, Inc., Satya Tiwari (CEO), and Allen
Parker (Sales Manager) as Defendants. (Compl. (Doc. 2).)
Plaintiff has since moved to add two additional individuals,
Julie Watkins and Carrie Ingalls, as defendants (Docs. 34,
court will first consider which of Plaintiff's numerous
pleadings it may properly consider under the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. This court will next turn to the original
Defendants' joint motion to dismiss Plaintiff's
original federal claims. This court will then proceed to
evaluate any remaining valid state law claims. Finally, if
any claims remain after this analysis, this court will
proceed to evaluate Plaintiff's discovery motions, (Docs.
25, 30, 38.)
Sufficiency of the Complaint
court will not, as Defendants urge at various points,
(see Doc. 12 at 6-9), dismiss Plaintiff's claims
outright as violative of the pleading standards set forth in
Fed.R.Civ.P. Rules 8 and 10(b). Plaintiff's pleading
approach clearly runs afoul of the Federal Rules.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) (pleading must contain
“a short and plain statement of the
claim”) (emphasis added); Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(b) (stating
that pleadings should be organized in numbered paragraphs and
should identify the specific facts on which each claim is
pleading standards are relaxed for pro se
plaintiffs. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106
(1976) (stating that pro se complaints must be
“liberally construed”); see also Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). However, these
plaintiffs are still required to plead facts that fairly put
the defendant on notice of the nature of the claims and
“contain more than labels and conclusions.”
Giarratano v. Johnson, 521 F.3d 298, 304 & n.5
(4th Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
court finds it odd that Plaintiff, who apparently is
well-educated, was able to secure a relatively high-paying
sales job, has navigated the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (“EEOC”) filing process, has resorted
to nearly indecipherable stream-of-consciousness narratives
in her various pleadings. Plaintiff's decision to devote
space in her pleadings to compare certain Defendants to Nazi
leaders and to criticize unrelated content posted on the
website of Defendants' legal counsel is also deeply
mystifying and frankly bizarre. (See Am. Compl.
(Doc. 15) at 18; Ex. EN (Doc. 15-12) at 1.)
this court notes that Defendants have not moved for a more
definite statement of the claims, which would certainly be
warranted here, and have instead proceeded to address the
substance of Plaintiff's allegations. Especially in the
pro se context, this court finds it preferable to
address Plaintiff's claims under Rule 12(b)(6) rather
than dismissing them for failure to comply with federal
Amendments to the Complaint
may amend any pleading as a matter of course, if that
pleading “is one to which a responsive pleading is
required, ” within twenty-one days after service of the
responsive pleading or motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1).
Defendants filed their original motion to dismiss on May 9,
2018, and Plaintiff filed her first motion to amend exactly
twenty-one days later on May 30, 2018. Therefore, this court
construes Plaintiff's initial motion to amend, (Am.
Compl. (Doc. 15)), as an amendment to the original complaint
which is permitted as a matter of course.
of the twenty-one-day window, pleadings may be amended
“only with the opposing party's written consent or
the court's leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2).
Defendants responded to Plaintiff's initial motion to
amend on June 25, 2018. (Doc. 16.) Plaintiff subsequently
filed an amended complaint on July 23, 2018, (IIED Compl.
(Doc. 17)); a “Motion for Jury Trial” on July 30,
2018, which this court construes as an additional motion to
amend the complaint, (Doc. 20); a “Motion to Amend
Breech [sic] of Contract” on August 23, 2018,
(Pl.'s Mot. to Am. (Doc. 24)); an additional motion to
amend the complaint on August 23, 2018, (Doc. 26); and a
“Motion for the Court to Grant Recovery” on
October 1, 2018, (Doc. 31). Plaintiff did not seek leave of
the court to file any of these pleadings, nor did Defendants
consent to these pleadings.
extent that any of the pleadings identified above other than
Plaintiff's initial motion to amend, (Am. Compl. (Doc.
15)), allege new claims or facts or otherwise seek to amend
Plaintiff's original complaint, these pleadings do not
comply with the time restrictions in Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2).
Plaintiff has also neglected to seek leave of the court to
amend. Plaintiff's shotgun pleading approach is both
prejudicial to Defendants and wasteful of judicial time and
resources. See, e.g., Johnson v. Oroweat Foods
Co., 785 F.2d 503, 510 (4th Cir. 1986) (stating that
prejudice can result when a defendant is forced to respond to
new legal theories or gather new evidence). Although the
proposed amendments here were filed shortly after the initial
complaint, this court further finds that Plaintiff has acted
in bad faith by filing numerous amendments over a short
period of time without seeking permission. See Foman v.
Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962) (listing “undue
delay, bad faith or dilatory motive” as grounds for
denying leave to amend). Therefore, this court will not
consider these subsequent pleadings.
as this court can discern, Plaintiff's initial motion to
amend alleges breach of contract and defamation claims. In
the interest of liberal construction, see Estelle,
429 U.S. at 106, this court will consider the breach of
contract and defamation claims asserted in Plaintiff's
initial motion to amend as well as the federal claims
asserted in Plaintiff's original complaint. However, this
court will construe Plaintiff's pleadings containing
claims for negligence, IIED and NIED as additional motions to
amend and will deny those motions as untimely and
has moved to add Julie Watkins, (Pl.'s Mot. to Add Julie
Watkins (“First Mot. to Add Def.”) (Doc. 34)),
and Carrie Ingalls, (Pl.'s Mot. to Add Party (“Sec.
Mot. to Add Def.”) (Doc. 36)), as defendants in this
case. As an initial matter, this court determines that
neither Watkins nor Ingalls is a required party, see
Fed.R.Civ.P. 19(a)(1), to any of Plaintiff's timely and
authorized claims. Neither Watkins nor Ingalls appear to
assert any interest in this action, and this court can
“accord complete relief” on Plaintiff's Title
VII, ADEA, breach of contract and defamation claims with the
original Defendants. Fed.R.Civ.P. 19(a)(1)(A).
Federal Rules alternatively permit joinder of parties as
defendants when plaintiff's “right to relief is
asserted against them jointly [or] severally, ” when
the right to relief against all parties arises out of the
same series of transactions, or when “any question of
law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the
action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(2); see also Saval v.
BL Ltd., 710 F.2d 1027, 1031 (4th Cir. 1983) (stating
that claims must be “reasonably related” for
parties to be joined under Rule 20); Stephens v. Kaiser
Found. Health Plan of the Mid-Atl. States, Inc., 807
F.Supp.2d 375, 382 (D. Md. 2011) (finding that claims must
have “a logical relationship to one another”).
claims against Watkins and Ingalls appear completely
unrelated to Plaintiff's original properly-pleaded
claims. Plaintiff's claim against Watkins is styled as a
breach of contract claim but appears to allege breach of a
contractual agreement between Watkins and Defendant Surya
regarding a third party, Kristine El Kouri. (First Mot. to
Add Def. (Doc. 34) at 4.) The breach of contract claim
alleged in Plaintiff's first amended complaint, however,
relates to provisions of the Surya employee handbook that may
have formed part of Plaintiff's employment contract with
Defendant Surya. (See Am. Compl. (Doc. 15) at 3.)
The claim against Watkins is not in any way relevant to that
breach of contract claim, and Plaintiff's motion to add
Watkins as a defendant will be denied.
claim against Carrie Ingalls is even more puzzling, as
Ingalls appears to be a third-party guest who attended an
event at one of Surya's facilities and allegedly
mistreated Plaintiff at this event. (Sec. Mot to Add. Def.
(Doc. 36) at 1-2.) While Plaintiff attempts to connect
Ingalls' alleged behavior to Surya's negligent
over-serving of alcohol at the event, (id. at 3),
this claim is simply in no way relevant to the employment
discrimination claims in Plaintiff's original complaint
or to the breach of contract and defamation claims in
Plaintiff's first amended complaint. Therefore,
Plaintiff's motion to add Ingalls as a defendant will
also be denied.