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Gwyn v. Pressen

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

February 22, 2018

JAMES GWYN, Plaintiff,

          Trauger Judge.



         This matter is before the Court upon Defendants' “Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, Motion for or Alternatively for [sic] a More Definite Statement.” Docket No. 6. Specifically, Defendants seek a judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c), or dismissal of Joseph “Lee” Presson based on insufficiency of process pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(5), or in the alternative, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e), to require Plaintiff to file a more definite statement that complies with the pleading requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. Id. In support of their Motion, Defendants have contemporaneously filed a supporting Memorandum of Law (Docket No. 7) and the Declaration of Joseph “Lee” Presson (Docket No. 6-1). As grounds for their Motion, Defendants contend that Plaintiff's Complaint “fails to comply with the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 because it does not state the grounds for jurisdiction, it does not contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that Plaintiff is entitled to relief and it does not make a specific demand for the relief he seeks.” Docket No. 7, p. 1-2. Defendants argue that this action should be dismissed because Plaintiff “fails to allege any facts in his Complaint to support his conclusory assertion that he was ‘fired [because he is] a black man. . . .” Id. at 2, quoting Docket No. 1-2. Defendants additionally argue that, to the extent that Plaintiff asserts claims against Defendant Presson, such claims must be dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(5) because Plaintiff failed to properly serve Defendant Presson with process, and pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) because Defendant Presson cannot be held individually liable under Title VII. Id.

         Plaintiff has filed a Response to Defendants' Motion, arguing that both Defendants were properly served, and asking that this Court “hold the Defendants accountable, ” or, in the alternative, set a trial date “so that Mr. Presson can explain to a jury why he wrongfully fired the Plaintiff.” Docket No. 14.

         Plaintiff, pro se, originally filed this action in the Metropolitan General Sessions Court of Davidson County, Tennessee. See Docket No. 1. Because Plaintiff alleges wrongful termination on account of race, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000e et seq., Defendants timely removed the action to this Court. Id.[1]

         Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint on October, 27, 2017, alleging as follows:

On July 27th, I was approached by Robert, at the temp job I was working. While wrapping a pallet of boxes, Robert came over to me and said that he needed to speak to me and the other guys. I said to him that I wasn't sure if I should stop working and asked him to go get my supervisor. He got upset and yelled at me and went and told my supervisor that I refused to listen to him, and that I he [sic] felt as though I disrespected him. My suprevisor [sic] DeWayne called us in his office at [sic] asked me was there a problem. I said no, and that all I ask [sic] Robert to do was to go get you or Mike, because I wanted to be sure that it was OK to stop working to listen to what he had to say. And that's when he got upset with me, after I said that the manager Lee said to me that I better do what Robert say do or I could hit the door or leave, (while pointing his finger in my face). I said to him that I have no problem with any one, but how can you say that to me while pointing your finger in my face and disrespecting me like that. You say don't disrespect Robert but you just disrespected me. After I said that, he yelled at me and said your [sic] (fired) give me your badge. Robert was a white employee and I believe that if he had not been (white) Lee the manager would not have acted the way he did towards me. He didn't say anything to Robert when he yelled at me, nor did he tell Robert that he had to respect me also, because he is a white full time employee. When I asked (Lee) to not disrespect me by pointing his finer in my face, that's when he (fired) me. I believe that I was treated wrong and discriminated because of my race and I also felt intimidated by his actions while yelling at my with his finger pointing in my face, and also because I was a temp worker and he was able to use his position to discriminate and intimated me. Because of my race his actions where [sic] totally racist and unjust. He had no reason to (fire) me. Other then [sic] the fact I'm black. And he knew no one would hold him accountable for his negative actions towards me.
I was wrongfully fired by Mr. Joseph Pressen AKN [sic] as Mr (Lee) manager employed by Ricoh America's Corp.

Docket No. 10-1.

         As an initial matter, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) protects employees from discrimination on the basis of an individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, and provides, in part:

         It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer--

(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or
(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such ...

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