Morris v. Carter Global Lee, Inc.

Decision Date05 November 2013
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 12–01800(CKK)
Citation997 F.Supp.2d 27
PartiesTimothy C. Morris, Plaintiff, v. Carter Global Lee, Inc., Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Columbia

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Timothy C. Morris, Temple Hills, MD, pro se.

Paul Warren Mengel, III, Pilieromazza PLLC, Washington, DC, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

COLLEEN KOLLAR–KOTELLY, United States District Judge

Plaintiff Timothy C. Morris (“Morris” or Plaintiff) brings this action pro se against Defendant Carter Global Lee, Inc. (“CGL” or Defendant) 1, asserting a variety of claims arising out of the termination of Plaintiff's employment with CGL. Currently before the Court is Defendant's [12] Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss. Upon consideration of the pleadings 2, the relevant legal authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court GRANTS–IN–PART AND DENIES–IN–PART Defendant's [12] Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss. All of Plaintiff's claims, with the sole exception of his claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981, are dismissed without prejudice.

I. BACKGROUND
A. Factual Background

The following facts are taken from the Plaintiff's Amended Complaint and the materials attached thereto and must be accepted as true for purposes of a motion to dismiss. See Atherton v. D.C. Office of the Mayor, 567 F.3d 672, 681 (D.C.Cir.2009). On or about February 23, 2009, Plaintiff was employed by Defendant as a plumber at the District of Columbia Jail. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 2, 5. Plaintiff is a licensed master plumber in the District of Columbia, and was hired in this capacity by Defendant CGL, which had a contract to provide plumbing services for the District of Columbia Department of Corrections. Id. at ¶¶ 2, 3. However, on February 23, 2009, Plaintiff's employment with CGL was terminated. Id. at ¶ 9. According to Plaintiff, his supervisor informed him that the Jail's Warden had ordered CGL to fire him. Id. The precipitating event for Plaintiff's termination was his allegedly negligent action in shutting off the valves controlling the Jail's heating system. Id. at ¶¶ 8–9. Plaintiff claims that a supervisor employed by Defendant confronted him on the morning of February 23, 2009 and accused him of sabotaging the heating system. Id. at ¶ 14. Plaintiff contends that he did not commit any misconduct, noting that in his final check of the heating system before termination he made sure each floor of the Jail was receiving the proper heat. Id. at ¶ 5. He alleges that Defendant terminated him without providing any proof of his wrongdoing. Id. at ¶ 14. He further states that he was humiliated by the termination, which resulted in his being asked to return his keys and ID badge and being escorted out of the building for his alleged misconduct. Id. at ¶ 6.

Plaintiff subsequently applied for unemployment compensation, which he was denied on March 19, 2009 on the basis of the alleged misconduct that led to his termination. Id. at ¶ 11, Notice of Benefit Determination. Plaintiff appealed this decision, and after Defendant failed to participate in a hearing on May 30, 2009, the Unemployment Board awarded Plaintiff unemployment compensation. Id. Affidavit of Timothy Morris ¶ 7.

On July 28, 2009, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination against Defendant with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights alleging that in terminating him, Defendant had “discriminated against [him] because of [his] race (Black American) and age (54), in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.” Id. Charge of Discrimination. On August 27, 2009, the EEOC sent Plaintiff a Dismissal and Notice of Rights. Id. Dismissal and Notice of Rights. This document informed Plaintiff that the EEOC was closing its file on his charges of discrimination because [b]ased on its investigation, the EEOC is unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violation of the statutes.” Id. The Dismissal and Notice of Rights further informed Plaintiff of his right to file a lawsuit on his claims of discrimination under Title VII, noting that [y]our lawsuit must be filed WITHIN 90 DAYS of your receipt of this notice; or your right to sue based on this charge will be lost.” Id.

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff initially filed suit against Defendant on May 29, 2012 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia alleging wrongful termination and violation of his civil rights. See Notice of Removal, ECF No. [ 1 ]. On November 5, 2012, Defendant removed this matter to this Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. Id. On the same day, Defendant filed its [3] Rule 12(e) Motion for More Definite Statement, which the Court granted on the grounds that Plaintiff's Superior Court Complaint lacked any discussion of the legal basis for his claims. See Order of Feb. 18, 2013, ECF No. [9]. Pursuant to this Court's Order, on March 11, 2013, Plaintiff filed his [ 10] Amended Complaint, which listed five purported claims against Defendant: (1) Violation of Civil and Human Rights; (2) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; (3) False Accusations; (4) Fraud; (5) Wrongful Firing. Subsequently, Defendant filed its [12] Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss, contending that Plaintiff's allegations fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss a complaint on the grounds it “fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint contain ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,’ in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.’ Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)); accord Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007) (per curiam). [A] complaint [does not] suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s] devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.’ Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557, 127 S.Ct. 1955). Rather, a complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations that, if accepted as true, “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937.

In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and must accept as true all reasonable factual inferences drawn from well-pleaded factual allegations. In re United MineWorkers of Am. Employee Benefit Plans Litig., 854 F.Supp. 914, 915 (D.D.C.1994). Further, in deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court may consider “the facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by reference in the complaint,” or “documents upon which the plaintiff's complaint necessarily relies even if the document is produced not by the plaintiff in the complaint but by the defendant in a motion to dismiss.” Ward v. D.C. Dep't of Youth Rehab. Servs., 768 F.Supp.2d 117, 119 (D.D.C.2011) (citations omitted).

A defendant may raise the affirmative defense of statute of limitations in a Rule 12(b)(6) motion when the facts that give rise to the defense are clear from the face of the complaint. See Smith–Haynie v. District of Columbia, 155 F.3d 575, 578 (D.C.Cir.1998). The court should grant a motion to dismiss only if the complaint on its face is conclusively time-barred. Id.; Doe v. Dep't of Justice, 753 F.2d 1092, 1115 (D.C.Cir.1985). 3

III. DISCUSSION

Defendant argues that all of Plaintiff's claims should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). The Court agrees with Defendant as to all of Plaintiff's claims, except for his claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The sufficiency of each of Plaintiff's claims is addressed below.

A. Plaintiff's Claim that Defendant Violated His Civil and Human Rights

Plaintiff alleges that CGL has violated his “civil and human rights under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and 42 U.S.C. §[§] 18811885 [sic]; 18 U.S.C. §[§] 241–241, 28 U.S.C. § 1443, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” Am. Compl. ¶ 14. For the reasons stated below, with the exception of Plaintiff's claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, none of these contentions present a cognizable claim for relief.

1. Plaintiff's Constitutional Claims and 42 U.S.C. § 1983

Although Plaintiff invokes a bevy of statutes in support of his claim that Defendant violated his “civil and human rights” under the Fourteenth Amendment, the factual basis for his claim is his allegation that he was fired by Defendant based on unsubstantiated accusations against which he was never given the opportunity to defend himself. Am. Compl. ¶ 14. By summarily firing him, Plaintiff contends, CGL deprived him of his economic livelihood without an opportunity to be heard in violation of the Due Process Clause. Id.

Defendant contends that Plaintiff's allegation that CGL “violated Plaintiff's civil and human rights” “is so vague and ambiguous that CGL cannot reasonably determine under which legal theory, if any, Plaintiff is seeking a judgment against CGL.” Def.'s Mem. at 3. The Court disagrees. Although Plaintiff does not clearly state that he brings his claim under the procedural component of the Due Process Clause and instead names a slew of statutory provisions in addition to the Fourteenth Amendment, the allegations in his complaint are sufficient to place Defendant on notice of Plaintiff's procedural due process claim. Plaintiff alleges that...

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