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Madden v. Chattanooga City Wide Service Dep't

June 1, 2007

RONALD L. MADDEN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHATTANOOGA CITY WIDE SERVICE DEPARTMENT, AND THE FOLLOWING PERSONS IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, STEVE LEACH, WAYNE WILKERSON, LEE NORRIS, JOE SHAW, JAMES H. TEMPLETON, BILL NEIGHBORS, TONY L. BOYD, LUANN HAWK, JEROME WIGGINS, GEORGE E. CLAIBORNE, JR., ALBERT LLOYD, AND ANTHONY MITCHELL, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Curtis L. Collier

MEMORANDUM

Before the Court is Defendants Chattanooga City Wide Service Department, Steve Leach, Lee Norris, Joe Shaw, James Templeton, Bill Neighbors, Tony Boyd, Wayne Wilkerson, Jerome Wiggins, George Claiborne, Jr., Albert Lloyd and Anthony Mitchell's ("City Defendants") motion to dismiss (Court File No. 40) as well as their supporting affidavit and brief (Court File Nos. 41 & 42). Pro se Plaintiff Ronald L. Madden ("Plaintiff") filed several briefs in opposition to the City Defendants' motion to dismiss (Court File Nos. 43, 52, & 67). Also before the Court is Defendant LuAnn Hawk's ("Hawk") motion to dismiss (Court File No. 72).*fn1

For the following reasons, the Court: (1) will DENY IN PART and GRANT IN PART the City Defendants' motion to dismiss (Court File No. 40), (2) will GRANT Hawk's motion to dismiss (Court File No. 72), and (3) will DISMISS Plaintiff's claims against Steve Leach, Lee Norris, Joe Shaw, James H. Templeton, Bill Neighbors, Tony L. Boyd, Wayne Wilkerson, Jerome Wiggins, George Claiborne, Jr., Albert Lloyd, Anthony Mitchell, and LuAnn Hawk in both their individual and official capacities.

I. RELEVANT FACTS

Plaintiff filed his complaint on October 4, 2006 seeking damages for racial harassment on the job and employment discrimination on the basis of race pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983 against Defendants Chattanooga City Wide Service Department, and the following in their individual and official capacities, Steve Leach, Lee Norris, Joe Shaw, James H. Templeton, Bill Neighbors, Tony L. Boyd, Wayne Wilkerson, Jerome Wiggins, George Claiborne, Jr., Albert Lloyd, Anthony Mitchell, and LuAnn Hawk (Court File No. 3).*fn2 With the exception of LuAnn Hawk, all of the individual defendants were supervisors and co-workers of Plaintiff when he was employed by Chattanooga City Wide Service Department ("City") (Court File No. 42). LuAnn Hawk is an employee of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") who investigated Plaintiff's employment discrimination claims (Court File No. 72).

Plaintiff alleges he was employed by the City from February 11, 2004 until March 27, 2006 (Court File Nos. 3 & 67).*fn3 While Plaintiff was employed by the City he filed a number of internal complaints (Court File No. 3). Plaintiff also filed two charges of discrimination with the EEOC including: (1) EEOC charge number 494-2006-00364 on February 15, 2006, and (2) EEOC charge number 494-2006-01813 on June 7, 2006 (Court File Nos. 41 & 42). In the first charge Plaintiff alleges he was discriminated against due to his race since he was reprimanded for arriving to work late while other employees of a different race were not similarly reprimanded (Court File No. 52). Additionally, Plaintiff claims the City retaliated against him for reporting his complaints (Id.). In his second charge Plaintiff alleges race and age discrimination relating to his discharge from employment at the City (Id.). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges he was sent home after he used a firecracker to scare an aggressive dog on the job and another employee who discharged a firecracker was not terminated (Id.).*fn4

The EEOC sent two identical right-to-sue letters to Plaintiff concerning both charge numbers on February 13, 2007 (Court File No. 52). These letters indicate the EEOC closed its file on both of Plaintiff's charges due to the fact that Plaintiff had already filed a lawsuit in Federal Court (Id.). Plaintiff also requested and received three right-to-sue letters from the EEOC, which are dated April 4, 2007 (Court File No. 64, Attachment 1).*fn5

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

When reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) ("Rule 12(b)(6)"), the Court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Bloch v. Ribar, 156 F.3d 673, 677 (6th Cir. 1998); State of Ohio ex rel. Fisher v. Louis Trauth Dairy, Inc., 856 F. Supp. 1229, 1232 (S.D. Ohio 1994), accept all the complaint's factual allegations as true, Bloch, 156 F.3d at 677; Broyde v. Gotham Tower, Inc., 13 F.3d 994, 996 (6th Cir. 1994), and determine whether it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff "can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief." Ziegler v. IBP Hog Mkt., Inc., 249 F.3d 509, 511-12 (6th Cir. 2001); Coffey v. Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hosp. Auth., 932 F. Supp. 1023, 1024 (E.D. Tenn. 1996). The Court may not grant a motion to dismiss based upon a disbelief of a complaint's factual allegations. Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 377 (6th Cir. 1995) (noting courts should neither weigh evidence nor evaluate the credibility of witnesses); Lawler v. Marshall, 898 F.2d 1196, 1199 (6th Cir. 1990). Rather, the Court must liberally construe the complaint in favor of the party opposing the motion and may dismiss the case only where no set of facts could be proved consistent with the allegations which would entitle the plaintiff to a recovery. Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984); Miller, 50 F.3d at 377.

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the question is "not whether [the] plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 511 (2002) (citations and quotation marks omitted). However, bare assertions of legal conclusions are insufficient. Scheid v. Fanny Farmer Candy Shops, Inc., 859 F.2d 434, 436 (6th Cir. 1988). The "complaint must contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements to sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory." Id.

(emphasis in original). Conclusory allegations will not suffice as a valid cause of action for violations of constitutional and/or civil rights. Smith v. Rose, 760 F.2d 102, 106 (6th Cir.1985).

While applying this standard, the Court must be mindful of the fact that a pro se complaint must be held to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Montgomery v. Huntington Bank, 346 F.3d 693, 698 (6th Cir. 2003); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, the Court "need not accept as true legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences." Morgan v. Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 12 (6th Cir. 1987).

III. DISCUSSION

A. City Defendants' Motion ...


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