Khatri v. Ohio State Univ.

Decision Date17 January 2020
Docket NumberCASE No. 5:18CV2962
PartiesMAHESH KHATRI, Plaintiff, v. THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio

JUDGE JOHN R. ADAMS

Magistrate Judge George J. Limbert

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

This matter is before the Court on a partial motion for judgment on the pleadings (ECF Dkt. #10) filed by defendant Ohio State University ("OSU") on May 2, 2019 and a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's first amended complaint (ECF Dkt. #25) filed by defendants David Benfield, Yeshia Mohamed "Mo" Saif, Chang-Won Lee, Gireesh Rajashekara, Elayne Siegfried and OSU (collectively, "Defendants") filed on July 29, 2019. Plaintiff Mahesh Khatri filed a memorandum in opposition to both motions on November 14, 2019. ECF Dkt. #39. Defendants filed a reply brief on November 29, 2019. ECF Dkt. #42. For the following reasons, the undersigned recommends that the Court (1) DENY OSU's motion for judgment on the pleadings (ECF Dkt. #10) as MOOT, (2) GRANT Defendants' motion to dismiss (ECF Dkt. #25), and (3) DENY Plaintiff's partial motion for judgment on the pleadings filed on September 18, 2019 (ECF Dkt. #31).

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On December 26, 2018, Plaintiff Mahesh Khatri, pro se, filed his original complaint against OSU in this Court. ECF Dkt. #1. Plaintiff brought claims for (1) disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12112; (2) discrimination based on religion under Title VII, citing 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e; and (3) a violation of the First Amendment. Id. at 1-2. In his prayer for relief, Plaintiff requested injunctive relief and monetary damages, including a request for $10,000,000. Id. at 19-20. After being granted a time extension, OSU filed an Answer on February 22, 2019. ECF Dkt. #s 7, 8. On May 2, 2019, OSU filed Partial Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. ECF Dkt. #10.

Pursuant to a Case Management Conference, the Court set June 24, 2019 as the deadline to amend pleadings and add parties. ECF Dkt. #13 at 4. On June 24, 2019, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint against OSU and added new party defendants David Benfield, Yeshia Mohamed "Mo" Saif, Chang-Won Lee, Gireesh Rajashekara, and Elayne Siegfried. ECF Dkt. #16. In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff brings the following claims: (1) First Amendment retaliation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against all Defendants and against the individually-named defendants in their official and personal capacities; (2) Conspiracy to interfere with Civil Rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against all Defendants and against the individually-named defendants in their official and personal capacities; (3) Intimidation under O.R.C. § 2921.03(A) & (C) against all Defendants and against the individually-named defendants in their official and personal capacities; (4) Civil liability for criminal acts under O.R.C. § 2307.60(A)(1) against all Defendants and against the individually-named defendants in their official and personal capacities; (5) Civil conspiracy under Ohio Common Law against all Defendants and against the individually-named defendants in their official and personal capacities; (6) Disability Discrimination under the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12112 and Rehabilitation Act against all Defendants and against the individually-named defendants in their official and personal capacities; and (7) Discrimination based on religion and national origin under Title II against all Defendants and against the individually-named defendants in their official and personal capacities, except for Dr. Rajashekara. ECF Dkt. #16. In his prayer for relief, Plaintiff requested injunctive relief and monetary damages. Id. at 28-29. The underlying facts and allegations in the original and amended complaint otherwise appear virtually identical.

Subsequently, on July 29, 2019, the Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (ECF Dkt. #16). ECF Dkt. #25. On September 18, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Partial Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, in which Plaintiff cited Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 and requested the Court to grant "partial summary judgment" in his favor. ECF Dkt. #31. On September 20, 2019, Defendants filed a Motion for Telephone Status Conference or, in the Alternative, a Motion to Deny Plaintiff's Partial Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings Pending a Ruling on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, and Motion to Extend Deadlines. ECF Dkt. #32. Plaintiff responded on September 26,2019 by filing a Memorandum in Opposition to Extend Time and a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and Partial Summary Judgment. ECF Dkt. #34.

On September 27, 2019, the undersigned filed an order denying Defendants' request (ECF Dkt. #32) for a telephone status conference but granting Defendants' proposed alternative to defer consideration of Plaintiff's Partial Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (ECF Dkt. #31) pending a ruling on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (ECF Dkt. #25). ECF Dkt. #35. The undersigned found that although entitled "Partial Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings," Plaintiff filed it as a motion for summary judgment, which was early considering the discovery deadline was extended to December 30, 2019 and the new deadline to file dispositive motions is January 28, 2020. ECF Dkt. #35. However, upon reconsideration, the undersigned is able to currently dispose of Plaintiff's September 18, 2019 filing due to overlap. ECF Dkt. #31.

On November 14, 2019, Plaintiff filed a memorandum in opposition to OSU's Partial Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (ECF Dkt. #10) and Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (ECF Dkt. #25). ECF Dkt. #39. Defendants filed a reply brief in support of their motion to dismiss on November 29, 2019. ECF Dkt. #42.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides that "[a]fter the pleadings are closed - but early enough not to delay the trial - a party may move for judgment on the pleadings." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c). A court reviews a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings under the same standard as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Fritz v. Charter Twp. of Comstock, 592 F.3d 718, 722 (6th Cir. 2010); Jackson v. Prof'l Radiology Inc., 864 F.3d 463, 465-66 (6th Cir. 2017); Boulger v. Woods, 917 F.3d 471, 478 (6th Cir. 2019).

After plaintiff files an amended complaint, the amended complaint will generally replace the original complaint, rendering the original complaint null and void. Florida Dep't of State v. Treasure Salvors, Inc., 458 U.S. 670, 706 n.2 (1982) (White, J., concurring in part & dissenting in part on other grounds, joined by Powell, Rehnquist, & O'Connor, JJ.); Drake v. City of Detroit, Michigan, 266 Fed.Appx. 444, 448 (6th Cir. 2008) ("[A]n amended complaint supercedes all prior complaints," rendering an original complaint a "nullity.") (unpublished); Grubbs v. Smith, 86 F.2d275, 275 (6th Cir. 1936) ("[A]s a matter of law the amended and substituted petition superseded the prior pleadings in the case."). The Sixth Circuit has recognized an exception to this general rule when the party "evinces an intent for the amended pleading to supplement rather than supersede the original pleading." Braden v. United States, 817 F.3d 926, 930 (6th Cir. 2016) ("An amended pleading supersedes a former pleading if the amended pleading 'is complete in itself and does not refer to or adopt a former pleading.'").

Here, OSU filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings after the original complaint and answer were filed. ECF Dkt. #10. Thereafter, Plaintiff amended his complaint, adding new party defendants and adding claims. ECF Dkt. #16. Rather than file an answer to the amended complaint, Defendants jointly filed a motion to dismiss. ECF Dkt. #25. Given that there has not been a new round of pleadings, the Court should DENY OSU's motion for judgment on the pleadings as MOOT. ECF Dkt. #10. Nevertheless, OSU reiterated its arguments in greater detail in the instant motion to dismiss, which is primarily at issue.

An amended pleading may "relate back" to the date of the original pleading under certain circumstances, including when the claims in the amendment concern the same "conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out-or attempted to be set out-in the original pleading." Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(c)(1)(B). In addition, when an amended complaint adds new defendants, such defendants are required to have received actual or constructive notice of the lawsuit before the statute of limitations period expired in order for the amended complaint to relate back to the filing of the original complaint. See Cox v. Treadway, 75 F.3d 230, 240 (6th Cir. 1996). The relation back doctrine is particularly relevant for determining whether a claim was filed within the applicable statute of limitations period. E.g., Miller v. Am. Heavy Lift Shipping, 231 F.3d 242, 248 (6th Cir. 2000). Here, the amended complaint contains identical facts and allegations as the original complaint, and the original complaint specifically named the individually-named defendants throughout the facts section, providing constructive notice of the lawsuit. ECF Dkt. #s 1, 16. As such, the undersigned recommends that the Court find that amended complaint relates back to the date of the original complaint for statute of limitations purposes.

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. RMI Titanium Co. v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 78 F.3d 1125, 1134 (6th Cir. 1996). Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), a pleading must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint need not contain "detailed factual allegations," but it must contain more than "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action . . ." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT