United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
Honorable Kevin S. Sharp, Chief District Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BARBARA D. HOLMES United States Magistrate Judge.
Order entered Mach 20, 2016 (Docket Entry No. 4), this
pro se action was referred to the Magistrate Judge
for pretrial proceedings under 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Rule
72 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
pending is Defendants' motion to dismiss (Docket Entry
No. 15), to which Plaintiff has responded in opposition.
See Docket Entry Nos. 15 and 21. For the reasons set
out below, the undersigned Magistrate Judge respectfully
recommends that Defendants' motion be GRANTED.
Nagarajan (“Plaintiff”) was born in India and
became an American citizen in 1977 after immigrating to the
United States. He is a college professor with multiple
advanced degrees in the study of physics and taught at
several colleges and universities before accepting a
tenure-track teaching position at Tennessee State University
(“TSU”) in 1980. After being denied promotion and
tenure and after being terminated from employment at TSU,
Plaintiff filed a federal lawsuit in 1990 alleging employment
discrimination by TSU. See Nagarajan v. Floyd, et
al., 3:90- 0055. Plaintiff succeeded at trial, and he
was awarded damages and reinstated at TSU as a full
non-tenured professor. Plaintiff states that he was subsequently
March 7, 2016, Plaintiff filed this pro se lawsuit
against TSU and seven TSU professors and administrators:
Samuel Hargrove (“Hargrove”), Lonnie Sharpe
(“Sharpe”), Sandra Scheick
(“Scheick”), Jeanetta Jackson
(“Jackson”), Linda Woodruff
(“Woodruff”), Mark Hardy (“Hardy”),
and Glenda Glover (“Glover”). Plaintiff's
pleadings consist of a form complaint brought under Title VII
of the Civil rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5
et seq. (“Title VII”), in which he
alleges, 1) ongoing discrimination on account of race, color,
and national origin that began on or about March 4, 2014,
and, 2) retaliation against him for his prior protected
activity. See Docket Entry No. 1 at 1-4. In the
section of the form complaint devoted to his request for
relief, Plaintiff seeks $50, 000, 000.00 in punitive damages
as his requested relief. Id. at 4.
Plaintiff does not include any supporting factual allegations
in the form complaint, he attaches a typed “complaint
for declaratory judgment, and damages, ” in which he
sets out 24 pages of allegations. See Docket Entry
No. 1 at 5-28. In his typed complaint, Plaintiff alleges
discrimination against him on the basis of age, race, and
nationality, as well as violations of “protected rights
under due process of law, bad faith breaches of contracts,
breaches of duty, character assassinations and defamation,
and tortious infliction of emotional distress.”
Id. at ¶ 17. As the basis for the Court's
jurisdiction, he refers to “civil rights
statutes” and various Tennessee statutory and
constitutional provisions. Id. at ¶ 16.
Plaintiff's typed complaint contains several complaints
by Plaintiff about various aspects of the TSU administration.
Although it is somewhat difficult to cull from these overall
complaints the specific events at issue in this lawsuit, it
appears that Plaintiff's lawsuit revolves around three
events: 1) the cancellation of his teaching assignments in
the Spring of 2015, id. at ¶ 23; 2) being
required to teach mathematics in the Fall of 2015,
id. at ¶ 24; and 3) disputes and controversies
involving grade appeals of three students, whom Plaintiff
alleges were forced to “make troubles with”
Plaintiff. Id. at ¶¶ 42-45. As in the form
complaint, the only specific request for relief contained in
the typed complaint is a request for $50, 000, 000.00 in
punitive damages. Id. at 28.
of an answer, Defendants have filed the pending motion to
dismiss the action under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure. Defendants argue that Plaintiff fails to
state a claim for relief by his request for punitive damages
under Title VII because the individual defendants cannot be
sued under Title VII and because Defendant TSU, as an agency
of the State, is statutorily protected from punitive damages
claims under Title VII. See Memorandum in Support
(Docket Entry No. 16) at 2-4.
response to the motion to dismiss, Plaintiff contends that
the doctrine of sovereign immunity does not apply in a
situation in which he sues his supervisors, that Defendants
have committed many discriminatory and criminal offenses, and
that Rule 12(b)(6) has become “mute and
redundant.” See Docket Entry No. 18. He
further argues that the State of Tennessee should not defend
the individual Defendants in this lawsuit because they are,
like him, TSU employees. See Docket Entry No.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion to dismiss filed under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure is reviewed under the standard that
the Court must accept as true all of the allegations
contained in the complaint, resolve all doubts in
Plaintiff's favor, and construe the complaint liberally
in favor of the pro se Plaintiff. See Kottmyer
v. Maas, 436 F.3d 684 (6th Cir. 2006); Boswell v.
Mayer, 169 F.3d 384, 387 (6th Cir. 1999); Morgan v.
Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 11-12 (6th Cir.
1987). Although the complaint need not contain detailed
factual allegations, Plaintiff must provide the grounds for
his entitlement to relief and this “requires more than
labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action.” Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167
L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (abrogating Conley v. Gibson, 355
U.S. 41 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)). Plaintiff must
plead “factual content that allows the court to draw
the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678-79, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).
only federal claims specifically raised by Plaintiff in his
pleading are employment discrimination and retaliation claims
brought under Title VII, which is referenced on the first
page of his form complaint. The jurisdictional section of
Plaintiff's typed complaint refers solely to Tennessee
statutory and constitutional provisions. See Docket
Entry No. 1 at 13, ¶ 16. Although the Court is required
to view Plaintiff's pro se pleadings with some
measure of liberality, ...