Braford v. Regions Financial Corporation
MEMORANDUM OPINION Signed by Judge Karon O Bowdre on 7/8/13. (SAC )
2013 Jul-08 PM 02:53
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
CIVIL ACTION NO.
This matter, alleging discrimination under § 12112(a) of the American’s with Disabilities
Act, and discrimination on the basis of race under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42
U.S.C. § 1981, is before the court on the defendant’s “Motion to Dismiss Count II of Complaint.”
(Doc. 7). This motion has been fully briefed. The defendant argues that count two1 of the plaintiff’s
Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the following reasons, the
court finds that the defendant’s motion is due to the GRANTED as to Count II.
I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The plaintiff, Katrina Bradford, filed her two-count Complaint against the defendant, Regions
Financial Corporation, on April 8, 2013. (Doc. 1). The Complaint contains the following counts:
“Count [I] - ADA Disability Discrimination”; “Count II - Race Discrimination.” Under the race
discrimination count, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant “discriminated against [her] because
Both counts of the Complaint are labeled “Count II.” As the defendant’s Motion to
Dismiss refers specifically to race discrimination, the court considers the count labeled “Race
Discrimination” as the Count II addressed in this Motion.
of her race with respectto [sic] implementation of the personal leave policies and terminating her 29
plus years of employment”; that the plaintiff “suffered mental anguish, emotional distress,
humiliation, and embarrassment”; and that the defendant’s discriminatory actions were “reckless,
malicious, and willful.” (Compl. ¶¶ 22-24). The plaintiff included her EEOC Charge of
Discrimination and Notice of Right to Sue as exhibits to her complaint.
The defendant filed its “Motion to Dismiss Count II of Complaint,” along with a brief in
support of the motion, on May 9, 2013. (Doc. 7-8). After the court granted the plaintiff’s Motion for
Extension of Time on May 22, 2013, the plaintiff filed her Response to the defendant’s Motion to
Dismiss on May 30, 2013. (Doc. 11-12). The defendant then filed its Reply to the plaintiff’s
Response on June 13, 2013. (Doc. 13).
The Complaint contains the following facts, which the court accepts as true for the purposes
of this motion.
The plaintiff began working at AmSouth Bank (now Regions) in May 1982. Around
December 2011, the plaintiff, because of poor health stemming from renal disease and open heart
surgery, initiated a period of short term disability leave under the Regions Family Medical Leave
program. The plaintiff also applied for Personal Leave, but Regions later denied the plaintiff any
additional leave. (Compl. ¶¶ 8-12, 17).
On December 19, 2011, the plaintiff was hospitalized for complications relating to her renal
disease. The plaintiff remained in the hospital until she was released on January 7, 2012. Upon
leaving the hospital, the plaintiff began a period of short term disability leave from Regions. (Doc.
On May 3, 2012, the plaintiff submitted paperwork from her treating physician to the
defendant detailing the plaintiff’s disability and present physical condition. On May 4, 2012, the
defendant terminated the plaintiff, claiming that she failed to complete her disability paperwork. In
her Regions disability paperwork, the plaintiff expressed a desire to return to Regions after her short
term disability expired. The defendant terminated the plaintiff before the end of her short term
disability. (Compl. ¶¶ 13-16).
On June 7, 2012, the plaintiff submitted a Charge of Discrimination to the EEOC. The
plaintiff stated that she is an African American female, and that the defendant terminated her
employment on May 4, 2012, for “job abandonment.” The plaintiff alleged “discrimination based
on [her] race and disability,” and that the defendant “discriminated against [her] in violation of the
Americans with Disability Act of 1990 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” (Doc. 1-1).
The complaint contains no further facts relating to the plaintiff’s claim of race discrimination.
The defendant argues that the plaintiff failed to plead facts sufficient to state a claim for race
discrimination. The court finds that because the plaintiff made only conclusory allegations with no
factual support in her Complaint, the plaintiff failed to state a claim for race discrimination, and the
defendant’s motion is due to be GRANTED.
A Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) attacks the legal sufficiency of the complaint. The
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only that the complaint provide “‘a short and plain
statement of the claim’ that will give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff’s claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.” Conley v. Gibson, 335 U.S. 41, 47 (1957) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P.
8(a)).While a plaintiff must provide the grounds of her entitlement to relief, Rule 8 generally does
not require “detailed factual allegations.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)
(quoting Conley, 335 U.S. at 47).
The rule does, however, “[demand] more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfullyharmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Pleadings that contain only “a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action,” “labels or conclusions,” or “naked
assertions” without sufficient factual support do not meet Rule 8 standards. Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555, 557. To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter such
that the court can “draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
In a Title VII case, the plaintiff need not allege facts in the complaint “sufficient to make out
a classic McDonnell Douglas prima facie case.” Davis v. Coca-Cola Bottling Co., 516 F.3d 955, 974
(11th Cir. 2008); see also Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506 (2002) (holding that “[t]he
prima facie case under McDonnell Douglas . . . is an evidentiary standard, not a pleading
requirement). A Title VII plaintiff need only “provide ‘enough factual matter (taken as true) to
suggest’ intentional race discrimination.” Davis, 516 F.3d at 974 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at
556). The facts alleged in the complaint must both give fair notice to the defendant of the basis for
the plaintiff’s claims, and raise the plaintiff’s right to relief above the speculative level. Davis, 516
F.3d at 974; see also Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 514 (finding that the Complaint satisfied the
requirements of Rule 8, as it “detailed the events leading to [the plaintiff’s] termination, provided
relevant dates, and included the ages and nationalities of at least some of the relevant persons
involved”). Conclusory allegations that an employer treated an employee differently than similarly
situated employees of another race “epitomize speculation and therefore [do] not amount to a short
and plain statement of [the] claim under Rule 8(a).” Davis, 516 F.3d at 974.
In her Complaint, the plaintiff merely states that the defendant “discriminated against [her]
because of her race with respectto [sic] implementation of the personal leave policies and
terminating her 29 plus years of employment”; that she “suffered mental anguish, emotional distress,
humiliation, and embarrassment”; and that the defendant’s discriminatory acts were “reckless,
malicious, and willful.” Although the plaintiff does state in her EEOC paperwork that she is African
American, she has detailed no facts demonstrating that race was a factor in her termination. The
plaintiff did not describe any similarly situated employees from outside her protected class that
received different treatment than she. Further, the plaintiff pleaded no facts indicating any correlation
whatsoever between her race and the decision to terminate her employment. She simply stated that
she is an African American female, and that the defendant terminated her employment after twentynine years of service. While the plaintiff is not required to plead facts sufficient to make a
McDonnell Douglas prima facie case, she must allege facts that elevate her claim above pure
speculation. Her bare accusation that the defendant discriminated against her because of her race
provides no notice to the defendant of the basis of her claim.
Therefore, because the plaintiff did not plead any facts demonstrating that the defendant
discriminated against her on the basis of race, the plaintiff has failed to state a claim for race
discrimination under Title VII for which relief can be granted.
For the reasons stated above, the court finds that the defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Count
II is due to be GRANTED, and Count II is due to be DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
The court simultaneously will enter a separate Order to that effect.
DONE and ORDERED this 8th day of July, 2013.
KARON OWEN BOWDRE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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