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Castle v. Sullivan County

July 23, 2008

APRIL J. CASTLE PLAINTIFF,
v.
SULLIVAN COUNTY, TENNESSEE, SULLIVAN COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, SHERIFF J. WAYNE ANDERSON, MAJOR LISA CHRISTIAN AND DEPUTY TY STEADMAN DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Ronnie Greer United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the Court on defendants' motion for reconsideration of the Court's order denying defendants' Rule 12 motion to dismiss, [Doc. 25] and "Defendants' Renewed Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim upon Which Relief Can Be Granted", [Doc. 19]. For the reasons which follow, the motion for reconsideration will be DENIED and the renewed motion to dismiss, will be GRANTED, in part and DENIED in part..

I. Procedural Background

On July 7, 2006, plaintiff filed a pro se complaint against defendants, Sullivan County Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Wayne Anderson, Major Lisa Christian and Deputy Ty Steadman, [Doc. 1].*fn1 On September 1, 2006, after being granted an extension of time to respond to the complaint, defendants responded with a Rule 12 motion to dismiss, [Doc. 10]. On October 4, 2006, plaintiff moved for an extension of time to file a response to the motion to dismiss, [Doc. 12], and her motion was granted by order of the Magistrate Judge on October 5, 2006, [Doc. 13]. On October 27, 2006, plaintiff filed a motion to amend her complaint [Doc. 14] and her motion was granted by order of the Magistrate Judge on November 16, 2006, [Doc. 15]. An amended complaint was attached to plaintiff's October 27 motion; however, the amended complaint was not docketed by the clerk as a separate docket entry until December 4, 2006, [See Doc. 18].

On December 14, 2006, defendants filed their "Renewed Rule 12 Motion To Dismiss For Failure To State A Claim Upon Which Relief Can Be Granted," [Doc. 19] along with a supporting memorandum, [Doc. 20]. On January 3, 2007, the plaintiff moved for an extension of time to file a response to the renewed motion to dismiss, [Doc. 21], and her motion was granted by the Magistrate Judge on January 8, 2007, [Doc. 23]. Plaintiff was allowed through June 31, 2007, in which to file her response. Despite the extension of time, plaintiff has never responded to defendants' motion to dismiss.*fn2

On March 28, 2007, this Court entered an order denying defendants' original motion to dismiss, i.e. document 10, [Doc. 24]. On March 29, 2007, the defendants filed a motion for reconsideration of the Court's March 28 order because "defendants believes [sic] that this Court may have mistakenly overlooked the defendants'" renewed motion to dismiss, i.e. document 19.

II. Analysis and Discussion

Because this Court's order of March 28, 2007, dealt only with defendants' original motion to dismiss, and because this Court has pending before it defendants' renewed motion to dismiss, this Court will spend little time considering the motion for reconsideration, which will be denied, and will turn its attention to the renewed motion to dismiss.

Plaintiff's amended complaint appears to do three things. First of all, it adds Sullivan County, Tennessee, as a party defendant.*fn3 Secondly, the plaintiff sets out her allegations in the complaint in short, concise, numbered paragraphs rather than the narrative form previously submitted. And, third, the plaintiff clearly identifies the nature of her causes of action as (1) sexual harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; (2) discrimination based on sex under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; (3) violation of the Equal Pay Act of 1963; and (4) violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.

As it must when considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court will accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Windsor v. The Tennessean, 719 F.2d 155, 158 (6th Cir. 1983). Indeed, the facts as alleged by the plaintiff cannot be disbelieved by the Court. See, e.g., Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989); Murphy v. Sofamor Danek Group, Inc., 123 F.3d 394, 400 (6th Cir. 1997). Where there are conflicting interpretations of the facts, they must be construed in the plaintiff's favor. Sinay v. Lamson & Sessions Co., 948 F.2d 1037, 1039--40 (6th Cir. 1991). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests only whether the plaintiff has pleaded a cognizable claim. Scheid v. Fannie Farmer Candy Shops, Inc., 859 F.2d 434, 436 (6th Cir. 1988).

April J. Castle ("Castle") was employed by Sullivan County, Tennessee as a Special Operations Detective in the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office from February, 2004 until January, 2005. The defendant Ty Steadman ("Steadman") was a co-worker of Castle. Major Lisa Christian was plaintiff's direct supervisor as well as the direct supervisor of Steadman. The defendant, J. Wayne Anderson, is the elected sheriff of Sullivan County, Tennessee. Throughout Castle's employment with the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office, she was subjected to unwelcome and harassing conduct by the defendant Steadman, which included "carrying rumors," false allegations about the use of drugs and trafficking in narcotics, questioning Castle's credibility and integrity, unwanted and unwelcome phone calls and text messages and false reports of dishonesty. As a result of the conduct, Castle made a formal written complaint against Steadman and an investigation followed. As a result of the internal investigation, Steadman was demoted but placed on the same shift as Castle. In February, 2005, Castle asked to be assigned to a different job, apparently while she was on sick leave recovering from surgery. Plaintiff had been found to have a "disabling medical condition, that her doctors related to her employment." Her request to be transferred to a different job was denied.

Castle provided medical excuses to her employer and detailed her medical condition in conversations with other supervisory employees of the Sheriff's Office. She alleges that she was wrongfully terminated based on the lack of any additional paid or compensatory leave, a determination she claims is incorrect. At the time of her termination of employment, she had approximately three weeks of remaining leave time for which she was paid after her termination. On or about November 1, 2005, Castle filed a complaint with the EEOC and on or about April 18, 2006, the EEOC issued a right to sue letter to the plaintiff. Castle's complaint claims that her complaints about Steadman's conduct were inadequately investigated by the employees of Sullivan County.

1. Individual Capacity and Liability

All defendants, in their individual capacities, seek dismissal on the basis that there is no individual liability under any of the federal causes of action claimed by the plaintiff. As set forth above, plaintiff asserts causes of action under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act and the American With Disabilities Act. All of these federal statutes prohibit acts on ...


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