The opinion of the court was delivered by: THOMAS A. WISEMAN, JR.
The Plaintiffs, four former employees of the Bridgestone tire company, have filed this Complaint alleging that they were discriminated against on the basis of their race. The Plaintiffs are suing Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., and eight Bridgestone employees who were either supervisors of the Plaintiffs, or were employed in the Bridgestone personnel office. Bridgestone has filed two pre-answer motions. First, they have moved to dismiss the Complaint against the individual defendants for improper service (the Plaintiffs served the individuals by leaving the Complaint and Summons at Bridgestone's front desk). They also argue that the Complaint fails to state a cause of action against the individual defendants, because they were not the Plaintiffs' employers. In the alternative, Bridgestone is seeking a more definite statement of the grounds for the Complaint, pointing out numerous errors in the Complaint, and stating that it is impossible to determine which allegation apply to which individual defendant.
In addition, the Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment and sanctions against Plaintiff Delores Murrell. Murrell and Bridgestone allegedly settled her claims, and Bridgestone has produced a copy of the release which Murrell signed. In response, Murrell claims that she was somehow misled into signing the document, and that it is void.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(d)(1) prescribes the means by which an individual may be served:
Upon an individual other than an infant or an incompetent person, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the individual personally or by leaving copies thereof at the individual's dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein or by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process.
Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 4(d)(1).
It is well established that individuals may not be served by merely leaving the Complaint and Summons at their place of business, unless an agent receives the documents, as provided in the last sentence of the Rule. Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 1096, at 74 (1987). See also Daly-Murphy v. Winston, 837 F.2d 348 (9th Cir. 1987) (stating that "Rule 4 has generally been construed to mean that service at a defendant's place of employment is insufficient."); Whisman v. Robbins, 712 F. Supp. 632 (S.D.Ohio 1988).
Are the Individuals "Employers" for Purposes of Title VII?
The Plaintiffs have moved to dismiss on the ground that the individual Defendants are not "employers" under Title VII. Subchapter VI of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race. Section 2000e(b) of ...