219 F.R.D. 155 (D.Ariz. 2003), Civ. 02-2043-PHX-ROS, Castillo v. Norton

Docket Nº:CIV 02-2043-PHX-ROS.
Citation:219 F.R.D. 155
Opinion Judge:SILVER, District Judge.
Party Name:Jose CASTILLO, Plaintiff, v. Gale A. NORTON, Secretary, United States Department of the Interior, Defendant.
Attorney:Cheri McCracken, Esq., Phoenix, AZ, for Plaintiff. James C. Hair, Jr., Esq., U.S. Attorney's Office, Phoenix, AZ, for Defendant.
Case Date:December 18, 2003
Court:United States District Courts, 9th Circuit, District of Arizona
 
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Page 155

219 F.R.D. 155 (D.Ariz. 2003)

Jose CASTILLO, Plaintiff,

v.

Gale A. NORTON, Secretary, United States Department of the Interior, Defendant.

No. CIV 02-2043-PHX-ROS.

United States District Court, D. Arizona.

December 18, 2003

Page 156

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 157

Cheri McCracken, Esq., Phoenix, AZ, for Plaintiff.

James C. Hair, Jr., Esq., U.S. Attorney's Office, Phoenix, AZ, for Defendant.

ORDER

SILVER, District Judge.

This is an employment discrimination suit filed by a federal employee against his employer, the Department of the Interior. Pending before the Court is the Department of the Interior's Motion to Dismiss or Strike Complaint and Require Amended Complaint. For the reasons stated below, the Motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

On April 7, 2003, Plaintiff Jose Castillo (" Castillo" ) filed a Complaint in the District of Arizona against his employer, the Department of the Interior (" DOI" ), alleging claims of employment discrimination under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et. seq. [Doc. # 1.] Castillo contends that the DOI has unlawfully discriminated against him on the basis of his race and/or national origin. (Compl.¶ 6.)

The Complaint is divided into four sections. The first section contains allegations concerning the parties, jurisdiction, and venue ( id. ¶ ¶ 1-4); the second section sets forth general allegations regarding the DOI's alleged discrimination ( id. ¶ ¶ 5-11); the third section alleges that Castillo has exhausted his administrative remedies ( id. ¶ 11); and the fourth section contains a prayer for a permanent injunction, back pay, front pay, pre-judgment interest, and fringe benefits. ( Id. at 5.)

The general allegations listed in the second section describe the DOI's alleged discrimination

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in broad strokes. In paragraph 6, for instance, Castillo alleges:

• " Defendant created ... a hostile working environment consisting of race-, gender-[ sic ], and national origin-based conduct ...." ( Id. ¶ 6(a));

• " Defendant repeatedly discriminated against Plaintiff by subjecting him to discipline for infractions ... for which ... similarly-situated employees ... were not disciplined or were disciplined less severely." ( Id. ¶ 6(c));

• " Defendant permitted subordinates and peers to refuse to report to Plaintiff on the basis of his race or national origin." ( Id. ¶ 6(g) [)]; and

• " Defendant repeatedly imposed job performance standards upon Plaintiff and other minority employees that were not imposed upon non-employees." ( Id. ¶ 6(j)).

Castillo, however, does not allege what persons discriminated against him, precisely when the alleged discrimination occurred, or the exact circumstances surrounding the alleged discriminatory conduct. The remaining general allegations paint a similarly broad picture of the DOI's alleged discrimination. ( See id. ¶ ¶ 5-10).

Like the allegations of discrimination in the second section, the allegations in the third section concerning exhaustion do not provide much factual detail about Castillo's claims. In Paragraph 11, Castillo asserts that he " has met all administrative prerequisites for the commencement of this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1614.407." He then lists the charges that he filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ), the dates that he filed those charges, the case numbers assigned, and the dates that the EEOC issued its decisions. ( Id. ¶ 11(a-n).) He does not discuss the substance of the EEOC charges, aside from stating that the charges were for " discrimination and retaliation." ( Id. )

On April 27, 2003, the DOI filed a motion to dismiss Castillo's Complaint for failure to satisfy the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss or Strike Compl., [Doc. # 7].) The DOI argues that the dismissal is warranted because the crucial allegations of the complaint are so vague " that defendant is unable to ... prepare its defense to this action." ( Id. at 2.) In the alternative, the DOI asks that the Court strike the Complaint and require Castillo to file an amended complaint. ( Id. )

DISCUSSION

I. Jurisdiction

Castillo has filed this action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.2000e, et seq. The Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (federal question jurisdiction).

II. The Motion to Dismiss

The DOI argues that the Complaint should be dismissed under Rules 8(a) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because it fails to give fair notice of Castillo's claims and the grounds on which those claims rest. (Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss or Strike Compl. at 2.) Specifically, the DOI argues that the Complaint is deficient because it does not identify: (1) the DOI employees who committed the alleged acts of discrimination; (2) the date, place and circumstance of the alleged discriminatory acts; and (3) precisely which EEOC charges form the basis of Castillo's Title VII claim. ( Id. ) Castillo, on the other hand, contends that his Complaint meets the liberal notice requirements of Rule 8(a). (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss or Strike Compl. at 2.) He also argues that the DOI can ascertain any unknown facts by conducting its own factual investigation or through discovery. ( Id. at 3.)

A. Legal Standard

1. Rule 12(b)(6)

A motion to dismiss will be granted where the plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). For the purposes of a 12(b)(6) motion, " [r]eview is limited to the contents of the complaint." Clegg v. Cult Awareness Network, 18 F.3d 752, 755 (9th Cir.1994). A complaint should not be dismissed " unless it appears

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beyond doubt that plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of [her] claim which would entitle [her] to relief." Buckey v. County of Los Angeles, 968 F.2d 791, 794 (9th Cir.1992) (quoting Love v. United States, 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir.1989)) (further citations omitted). To the extent, however, that " matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b); Del Monte Dunes at Monterey, Ltd. v. Monterey, 920 F.2d 1496 (9th Cir.1990).

2. Rule 8(a)

This motion to dismiss must be analyzed in light of Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which sets forth the procedural requirements for pleading a claim in federal court. Under Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain " a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." The Rule " mean[s] what it sa[ys]." Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 168, 113 S.Ct. 1160, 122 L.Ed.2d 517 (1993). A claimant need not " set out in detail the facts upon which he bases his claim." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). Rather, the complaint need only provide the defendant " fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Id. Accordingly, in evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint, the court's role " is necessarily a limited one," confined to evaluating " not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail," but " whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 40 L.Ed.2d 90 (1974).

One of the " basic philosophies of the federal rules" is " simplicity of procedure." 5 Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1182, at 12 (2d ed.1990). Earlier federal pleading regimes imposed a variety of technical requirements on complaints and placed great weight on the factual content of the plaintiff's allegations. See Gilbane Bldg. Co. v. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, 80 F.3d 895, 900 (4th Cir.1996) (discussing the former " code pleading's formalistic, purely factual approach" and the " murky code-pleading requirement that a claimant plead ultimate facts and avoid pleading evidence and conclusions of law." ) Under code pleading, " [t]he complaint not only gave notice of the nature of plaintiff's case but also was required to state the facts constituting the cause of action." 5 Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1202, at 68-69. " Failure to incorporate an essential allegation [could] lead to a speedy end of the litigation by way of demurrer or motion to dismiss." Id.

Under the modern federal rules, however, pleadings " are not an end in themselves." 5 Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1182, at 13. " [T]echnical forms of pleading are not required." Id. § 1202, at 68; see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(e)(1). Rather, Rule 8 is " designed to discourage battles over mere form of statement and to sweep away the needless controversies which the [predecessor] codes permitted" so that parties can proceed directly and more efficiently to resolving cases on their merits. Id. § 1201, at 67 n. 11 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 advisory committee's note (1955 Report)). The modern rules thus dramatically ease the pressure on plaintiffs to include particularized factual allegations in their complaints.

Rule 84, in fact, recommends simple form complaints to courts and practitioners. The form complaint for negligence indicates just how simple complaints can be:

" 1. Allegation of jurisdiction.

2. On June 1, 1936, in a public highway called Boylston Street Boston, Massachusetts, defendant negligently drove a motor vehicle against plaintiff who was then crossing said highway.

3. As a result plaintiff was thrown down and had his leg broken and was otherwise injured, was prevented from transacting his business, suffered great pain of body and mind, and incurred expenses for medical attention and hospitalization in the sum of one thousand dollars."

Fed.R.Civ.P., Form 9. Instead of a detailed recitation of causation and the tortfeasor's duty of due care, the model complaint rests on " conclusory" allegations...

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