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Minner v. Juvenile Court

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

June 4, 2018

PATRIECE D. MINNER, Plaintiff,
v.
JUVENILE COURT, SHELBY COUNTY GOVERNMENT, JACQUELINE PARSON, and GARY CUMMINGS, Defendant.

         ORDER CORRECTING THE DOCKET REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON DEFENDANTS’ CONSOLIDATED MOTION TO STRIKE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT AND TO STAY TIME FOR DEFENDANTS TO ANSWER, PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT, AND PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND COMPLAINT TO ADD SHELBY COUNTY GOVERNMENT AS DEFENDANT

          CHARMIANE G. CLAXTONUNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court are the following motions: Defendants’ Consolidated Motion to Strike Amended Complaint and to Stay Time for Defendants to Answer (Docket Entry (“D.E.”) #30) (“Motion to Strike”); Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to Allow Second Amended Complaint (D.E. #34) (“Motion for Leave”); and, Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend Complaint and Add Shelby County Government as Defendant (“Second Motion for Leave”) (D.E. #38). The instant motions have been referred to the United States Magistrate Judge for Report and Recommendation.[1] For the reasons set forth herein, it is RECOMMENDED that Defendants’ Motion to Strike be GRANTED, that Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave be DENIED, and that Plaintiff’s Second Motion for Leave be DENIED. It is also ORDERED that the Clerk of Court correct the docket to reflect that Defendant “Juvenile Court, Shelby County Government” shall be named as “Shelby County Government.”

         I. Introduction

         On September 27, 2017, Plaintiff filed a pro se Complaint for Employment Discrimination. (D.E. #1). Plaintiff named as Defendants the following: Juvenile Court; Jacqueline Parson (“Parson”); and, Gary Cummings (“Cummings”). (Compl. ¶ IB). Plaintiff alleges violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. (“Title VII”), and also “[o]ther federal law,” which she does not specify. (Id. ¶ 2). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges unequal terms and conditions of her employment, retaliation, harassment and intimidation on the basis of race, and defamation. (Id. ¶¶ III.A, III. D, V). She states that the alleged discriminatory acts occurred in May 2015, from April 2016 until July 2016, and from November 2016 to date and are still occurring. (Id. ¶¶ III.B-III.C). She states that she “wishes to be compensated for performing 2 distinct job functions at 5% per year,” that she “requests to have [her] personnel file cleared of all negative reports,” and that she requests “$200 per week for subjection to a hostile work environment.” (Id. ¶ V). She also incorporates by reference the facts as stated in three Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) claims. (Id. ¶ III.E & Exhs. 1-3).

         On December 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed a pro se Amended Complaint for Employment Discrimination. (D.E. #9). Plaintiff named Juvenile Court, Shelby County Government, and Matthew John ( John )[2] as Defendants. (Compl. ¶ 1.B). Plaintiff alleges violations of Title VII, including unequal terms and conditions of her employment, retaliation, harassment, intimidation, defamation, and sabotage on the basis of race. (Id ¶¶ III. A, III.C). She alleges that the discriminatory acts occurred in July 2017 and are still occurring. (Id. ¶¶ III.B & III.C). She states that she requests to have her “personnel file cleared of all negative reports” and requests “punitive damages in the amount of $50,000.00 for defamation and slander.” (Id. ¶ V). She also incorporates by reference the facts in a fourth EEOC claim that was not listed in the original Complaint. (Id. ¶ III.E & Exhs. 1-2).

         On February 7, 2018, Plaintiff filed a pro se Second Amended Complaint for Employment Discrimination. (D.E. #18). Plaintiff named “Juvenile Court of Memphis of Shelby County Government,” Parson, Cummings, and John as Defendants. (Compl. ¶ I.B). Plaintiff alleges violations of Title VII and, for the first time, violations of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.[3] (Id. ¶ II). She again alleges unequal terms and conditions of her employment, retaliation, “[o]ngoing harassment,” intimidation, sabotage, and defamation on the basis of race. (Id. ¶¶ III. A, III.D). She alleges that the discriminatory acts occurred in May 2015 as well as April 2016 and are continuing to occur to date. (Id. ¶¶ III.B-III.C). She cites the four EEOC charges as mentioned in her Complaint and Amended Complaint, and she requests the following relief: “punitive damages in the amount of $75,000”; clearance of her personnel file of “slanderous negative reports”; and, compensation for performing two distinct job functions at 5% per year through the duration of her employment. (Id. ¶¶ IV.A, V & Exhs. 1-4).

         On March 5, 2018, Defendants Juvenile Court of Shelby County Government, Parson, and Cummings filed their Motion to Strike. (D.E. #30).[4] The Motion to Strike argues that Plaintiff has already filed an original Complaint and Amended Complaint and that Rule 15(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not allow her to file a Second Amended Complaint without the consent of the opposing party or leave of Court. Defendants assert that Plaintiff has not received either. Thus, Defendants argue that the Court should strike Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint.[5]

         On March 14, 2018, Plaintiff filed her Motion for Leave pursuant to Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (D.E. #34). Plaintiff appears to assert that she intended to file her Second Amended Complaint as a motion for leave, even though it is titled “Amended Complaint for Employment Discrimination,” but that her “intent regarding the pleading was misinterpreted by the U.S. District Court Clerk personnel, resulting in the ‘Second Amended’ pleading.” She further states that “[o]ngoing issues of documented harassment and retaliation from the Defendants against the pro se Plaintiff” necessitate the Second Amended Complaint. She also argues that she should be held to less stringent standards than a represented party as she is proceeding pro se. On the same date, Plaintiff also filed a Response to Defendants’ Consolidated Motion to Strike. (D.E. #35). Therein, she reiterates the arguments in her Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint and further asserts that it should be permitted because “[a]ll amendments to the pleading precedes service to all Defendants.”

         On March 19, 2018, all Defendants filed a Response to Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint. (D.E. #36). All Defendants reiterate that they have previously provided their factual and legal bases for opposing Plaintiff’s filing of the Second Amended Complaint in their Motion to Strike.

         On March 27, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint to Add Shelby County Government as Defendant (“Second Motion for Leave”). (D.E. #28). Plaintiff states that, pursuant to Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, she should be allowed leave to name “Shelby County Government” as a Defendant because it is “the corporation which oversees Juvenile Court of Shelby County and further employs or employed all previously mentioned defendants in this matter.” Plaintiff also reiterates that the intent of her initial pleading was misinterpreted by this Court Clerk’s personnel, although it is not clear how this is even allegedly so as it contains an entirely new request to amend, and that she be held to less stringent standards than a represented party.

         On March 28, 2018, all Defendants filed a Response in Opposition to Plaintiff’s Second Motion for Leave. Defendants argue that Plaintiff is essentially now asking for leave to file a Third Amended Complaint even though her request for leave to file a Second Amended Complaint is still pending with the Court along with their Motion to Strike. Defendants rely on the arguments previously raised in their filings and further assert that Plaintiff may not add any additional parties due to the relevant statute of limitations. Defendants also state that, in their Answer to the Second Amended Complaint, they have asserted that “Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County Government” is not a proper Defendant but that “Shelby County Government” is the proper Defendant. They state that they have advised Plaintiff that they would not oppose a motion to substitute “Shelby County Government” for “Juvenile Court of Memphis of Shelby County Government” as the proper defendant but do not consent to an amendment to bring in an additional defendant. Defendants also clarify that they are not intending to waive their arguments that the Second Amended Complaint should be stricken.

         II. Proposed Analysis

         Rule 15(a)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits an amendment to a pleading “once as a matter of course within . . . 21 days after serving it” or, “if the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is required, 21 days after service of a responsive pleading or 21 days after service of a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier. Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(1). Rule 15(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that, “[i]n all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only with the ...


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