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Reyes v. Seaton Enterprises LLC

May 13, 2008

RODOLFO REYES AND SANDRA REYES PLAINTIFFS,
v.
SEATON ENTERPRISES, LLC, DAVID RUSSELL SEATON, ANTHONY CRADY, AND KRISTIE MARVIN, DEFENDANTS.



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

Chief District Judge Curtis L. Collier

MEMORANDUM

Before the Court are numerous dispositive motions filed by both sides in this case. Defendants Seaton Enterprises LLC ("Seaton Enterprises") and David Russell Seaton ("Seaton") filed a motion to dismiss in response to the complaint (Court File No. 19). Defendants Anthony Crady ("Crady") and Kristie Marvin*fn1 ("Marvin") also filed a motion to dismiss in response to the complaint (Court File No. 21), and defendants Seaton Enterprises, Seaton, and Crady filed a motion to dismiss (Court File No. 25). Seaton, Seaton Enterprises, Crady, and Marvin (collectively "Defendants") filed a joint motion for summary judgment (Court File No. 122), and plaintiffs Rodolfo Reyes and Sandra Reyes (collectively "Plaintiffs") filed a motion for partial summary judgment (Court File No. 128).

For the reasons set out below, the Court will GRANT IN PART and DENY IN PART the Defendants' motions to dismiss (Court File Nos. 19, 21, 25).

The Court will DENY Defendants' motion for entry of default (Court File No. 125). The Court will DENY Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment as untimely (Court File No. 128). The Court will DENY Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Court File No. 122); except the Court will GRANT summary judgment to Defendants on Plaintiffs' claim for retaliation, and the Court will RESERVE RULING on Plaintiffs' claims for punitive damages and Marvin's involvement in the conspiracy.

I. FACTS

The facts underlying Plaintiffs' claims are adequately set out in the Court's previous memorandum (Court File No. 114).

II. DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS

The Court will consider each claim in the order Plaintiffs alleged that claim in their complaint, and then consider any motion of Defendants to dismiss that claim.

A. Standard of Review

In reviewing a Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court construes the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Bloch v. Ribar, 156 F.3d 673, 677 (6th Cir. 1998), accepts the complaint's factual allegations as true, Broyde v. Gotham Tower, Inc., 13 F.3d 994, 996 (6th Cir. 1994), and determines whether the plaintiff has pleaded "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, -- U.S. --, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007) (rejecting traditional Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)). The Court may not grant a 12(b)(6) motion based upon its disbelief of a complaint's factual allegations, Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 377 (6th Cir. 1995), nor should the Court weigh the evidence or evaluate the credibility of witnesses, id. (citing Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)). The question is not whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether "the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Kroll v. United States, 58 F.3d 1087 (6th Cir. 1995); Ecclesiastical Order of the ISM of AM., Inc. v. Internal Revenue Serv., 725 F.2d 398, 403 (6th Cir. 1984). At the same time, bare assertions of legal conclusions are insufficient, and the complaint "must contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements to sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory." Scheid v. Fanny Farmer Candy Shops, Inc., 859 F.2d 434, 436 (6th Cir. 1988).

B. Conspiracy to Violate Plaintiffs' Civil Rights

Defendants first claim Plaintiffs have failed to allege the necessary elements of a prima facie case for the federal claim of conspiracy (Court File No. 20 at 9, 22 at 9, 25 at 8). Defendants only raise this issue as to Marvin. Defendants argue the complaint merely alleges Marvin's presence, and fails to allege actual participation or membership in the conspiracy or discriminatory animus on her part.

In addition, Defendants argue the conspiracy claim against the corporation and its officers should be dismissed because of the intracorporate immunity doctrine (Court File Nos. 22 at 10, 25 at 10, 20 at 9).

Plaintiffs argue the intracorporate immunity doctrine does not apply for two reasons. First, either Seaton or Crady were acting outside the scope of their employment (Court File No. 120 at 13). Second, Marvin is not an employee of Seaton Enterprises, and is alleged to be a member of the conspiracy (id.).

Defendants correctly state the rule that a corporation cannot conspire with its own agents or employees. Hull v. Cuyahoga Valley Joint Voc. Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ., 926 F.2d 505, 509-10 (6th Cir. 1991).

Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint alleges Marvin was present for the duration of Seaton and Crady's assault (Amended Complaint ¶ 17). The Amended Complaint also alleges Seaton and Crady beat Rodolpho Reyes while uttering racist profanity, and then alleges Seaton threatened his life by pointing a pistol at his head (id. at ¶ 23-29). Finally, the Amended Complaint alleges Marvin along with Crady later went to the home of two "Good Samaritan" witnesses and attempted to intimidate them repeatedly telling them "you did not see anything." (id. at ¶ 32). The Amended Complaint, fairly read, alleges Marvin observed her co-defendants beat Rodolfo Reyes while verbally indicating their racial animus, and then she later attempted to intimidate witnesses to protect Seaton and Crady. This is sufficient to allege a claim Marvin was a member of a conspiracy.

Marvin is not alleged to be an employee of Seaton Enterprises, and a conspiracy only requires two or more members. Accordingly, the Court will DENY Defendants' motions to dismiss count one.

C. Deprivation of Fundamental Rights

Count two of the Amended Complaint alleges Defendants' conduct constituted "intentional invidious interference with and deprivation of fundamental rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution under the 13th and 14th Amendments including the Equal Protection Clause." (Amended Complaint at 12).

Defendants argue the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution cannot be the basis of Plaintiffs suit absent the support of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1985 (Court File Nos. 20 at 12, 22 at 12, 25 at 13). Defendants also argue Plaintiffs fail to make a claim out under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because Plaintiffs fail to allege how Defendants actions are state actions as the amendment requires (Court File Nos. 22 at 13, 25 at 14).

Plaintiffs fail to respond to either of these arguments (Court File No. 120). Plaintiffs merely recount the elements of a hostile work environment claim and then proceed to expound on the purpose of the Thirteenth Amendment without addressing the contention of Defendants that the ...


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