United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville
ANTOINETTE C. TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
3B ENTERPRISES, LLC, et al., Defendants.
CHARLES R. SIMPSON, III, Senior District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on motion of Defendants 3B Enterprises, LLC, et alia, for judgment on the pleadings, pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendants argue the allegations of employment discrimination are implausible or the claims are otherwise legally flawed and, therefore, fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (DNs 33, 46). In response to this motion, Plaintiff, Antoinette C. Taylor, pro se, filed four motions for leave to amend the complaint. The Court ordered Plaintiff to restate all allegations in one pleading, which is now before the Court in Plaintiff's motion for leave to file a Fifth Amended Complaint, pursuant to Rule 15(a)(2). (DN 82, 99). Defendants oppose the motion as futile because, they argue, the seventy-four-page amended complaint does not cure the deficiencies in the original complaint and because the additional claims and allegations also fail to state a claim. (DN 95). In opposition to dismissal, Plaintiff argues all her claims are plausible and satisfy the federal standard for notice pleading. (DN 40, 53, 56). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny leave to amend, because all allegations fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and dismiss the action.
Federal courts freely grant leave to amend a pleading "when justice so requires, " Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2), to promote review of cases on their merits rather than on technicalities. Cooper v. American Employers' Ins. Co., 296 F.2d 303, 306 (6th Cir. 1961). Denial of leave to amend is, nevertheless, appropriate if the amendment would be futile because it could not withstand a motion to dismiss under Rule 12. Miller v. Champion Ent., Inc., 346 F.3d 660, 671, 690 (6th Cir. 2003).
When evaluating whether a complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court must determine whether the complaint alleges "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 Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is plausible if "the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id., (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Although the complaint need not contain "detailed factual allegations [under Rule 8(a)(2)], a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitlement to relief' [under Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)] requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted).
This "plausibility" standard, as articulated recently by the Supreme Court of the United States in Twombly and Iqbal, applies to causation in discrimination claims. Keys v. Humana, Inc., 684 F.3d 605, 610 (6th Cir. 2012)(citing HDC, LLC v. City of Ann Arbor, 675 F.3d 608, 612-13 (6th Cir. 2012) (affirming dismissal of Fair Housing Act claim where alleged facts did not support plausible inference of intentional discrimination); and Pedreira v. Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children, Inc., 579 F.3d 722, 728 (6th Cir. 2009) (affirming dismissal of religious discrimination claim where plaintiff failed to allege facts plausibly linking her termination to religious beliefs)). In Keys, the Sixth Circuit explained:
[A]lthough the... [c]omplaint need not present "detailed factual allegations, " it must allege sufficient "factual content" from which a court, informed by its "judicial experience and common sense, " could "draw the reasonable inference, " Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 578, 679, that [the employer] "discriminate[d] against [the plaintiff] with respect to [her] compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of [her] race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1)(emphasis added); see Barrett v. Whirlpool Corp., 556 F.3d 502, 512 (6th Cir. 2009) ("[W]e review § 1981 claims under the same standard as Title VII claims."). According to the Supreme Court, "plausibility" occupies that wide space between "possibility" and "probability." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. If a reasonable court can draw the necessary inference from the factual material stated in the complaint, the plausibility standard has been satisfied.
Federal courts hold pro se pleadings to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991); Burton v. Jones, 321 F.3d 569 (6th Cir. 2003). The district court better serves "substantial justice" by examining the "thrust, not just the text, " of pro se litigants' allegations. Burton, 321 F.3d 573-74.
Plaintiff claims she was discharged from employment, on or about June 20, 2012, on the basis of her age and race, being 49 years of age and an African-American. For nearly eight years, Plaintiff worked as a caregiver and certified nurse assistant for Defendant, 3B Enterprises, LLC. 3B is an operator of a home health care service called, Home Instead Senior Care. In addition to naming 3B as a defendant, Plaintiff names three individuals as defendants: 3B's principals/owners, Brent Beanblossom and Rebecca Beanblossom, as well as a senior manager, Client Care Director, Kim Little. Plaintiff alleges she met her employer's performance expectations and received awards and recognition for her work. However, Plaintiff was ultimately terminated, she alleges, "based on workplace inadmissible rumors, gossip, and hearsay alleging that [Plaintiff] was sleeping on the job [on the night in question, June 16-17, 2012]...." Plaintiff's employer immediately relieved Plaintiff from her work assignment, via telephone conversation with Ms. Beanblossom on June 19, 2012, and three days later, terminated Plaintiff's employment.
Charge of Discrimination
Plaintiff filed a formal charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, a copy of which is attached to Defendants' response memorandum. In it, Plaintiff complains of discriminatory discharge on the basis of ...