Towne v. Arkansas Veterans Home et al

Filing 13

ORDER granting in part and denying in part 3 Motion to Dismiss. Signed by Judge James M. Moody on 1/29/09. (bkp)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS LITTLE ROCK DIVISION ARLINE TOWNE V. 4:08CV003585 JMM PLAINTIFF ARKANSAS VETERAN'S HOME, DAVID FLETCHER, DIRECTOR, in his official capacity as Director of the Arkansas Veteran's Home; MIKE TURNER, INTERIM ADMINISTRATOR, in his official capacity as Interim Administrator of the Arkansas Veteran's Home; ALBERT WILSON, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ARKANSAS VETERAN'S HOME DEFENDANTS ORDER DENYING IN PART AND GRANTING IN PART MOTION TO DISMISS Pending is the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. For the reasons set forth below, the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is DENIED in part and GRANTED in part. (Docket # 3). The United States Supreme Court recently clarified the standard to be applied when deciding a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007). "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the `grounds' of his `entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 1964-65 (internal citations omitted). "So, when the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief, this basic deficiency should . . . be exposed at the point of minimum expenditure of time and money by the parties and the court." Bell Atlantic, 127 S.Ct. at 1966 (internal citations omitted). Plaintiff filed her Complaint on October 3, 2008 alleging that she was terminated on the basis of her race and in retaliation for filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated her rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 1983, 42 U.S.C. 2000 et. seq. and the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss claiming that Plaintiff cannot maintain a Title VII action because it is barred by the statute of limitations. Alternatively, Defendants argue that Fletcher, Turner and Wilson are not proper parties in a Title VII action. Defendants also claim that in their official capacities they are immune from money damages and the Arkansas Veteran's Home is not a person subject to suit under 1983. Plaintiff has responded to Defendants' motion to dismiss and concedes that her Title VII claim is barred by the statute of limitations. Plaintiff also concedes that Defendants are immune from money damages under 1983. Plaintiff argues that her claims for equitable and injunctive relief should remain. Further, Plaintiff asks the Court for leave to file an amended complaint. 1983 Claims Defendants ask that Plaintiff's claims under 1983 against the Arkansas Veteran's Home and the individual defendants in their official capacities be dismissed because they are barred by sovereign immunity and these defendants are not considered "persons" under 1983. Section 1983 claims against the State of Arkansas and its agencies are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Murphy v. State of Ark., 127 F.3d 750, 754 (8th Cir. 1997) (citing Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 99 S.Ct. 1139, 59 L.Ed.2d 358 (1979); Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 98 S.Ct. 3057, 57 L.Ed.2d 1114 (1978)). Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's 1983 claims against the Arkansas Veteran's Home is GRANTED. Damage claims against individual defendants in their official capacities are also barred, either by the Eleventh Amendment or because in these capacities they are not "persons" within the meaning of 1983. Murphy, 127 F.3d at 754 (citing Will v. Michigan Dept. Of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 109 S.Ct. 2304, 105 L.Ed.2d 45 (1989)). However, when sued for prospective injunctive relief, state officials in their official capacities are considered "persons" under 1983, and such relief is not barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Murphy, 127 F.3d at 754 (citing Treleven v. University of Minn., 73 F.3d 816, 819 (8th Cir. 1996)). Plaintiff argues that her claims for front pay and back pay should also remain. However, "front pay is not analogous to the prospective relief permitted under Ex parte Young . . . . [a] front pay award is therefore barred by the Eleventh Amendment." Campbell v. Arkansas Dept. of Correction, 155 F.3d 950, 962 (8th Cir. 1998) and any award of retroactive monetary relief payable by the state, including for back pay is proscribed by the Eleventh Amendment. See, e.g., Dover Elevator Co. v. Arkansas State Univ., 64 F.3d 442,444; Nevels v. Hanlon, 656 F.2d 372, 77-378 (8th Cir.1981). Therefore, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's 1983 claims for injunctive relief against the Defendants in their official capacities is DENIED, and Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's 1983 claims for damages, including front pay and back pay, against the Defendants in their official capacities is GRANTED. Conclusion For these reasons, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Title VII claims, 1983 claims against the Arkansas Veteran's Home and 1983 claims for damages against the 3 individual defendants in their official capacities is GRANTED. Remaining are Plaintiff's claims for injunctive relief against the individual defendants in their official capacities under 1983. Plaintiff may file a separate motion for leave to file an amended complaint if she wishes to amend her pleadings. IT IS SO ORDERED this 29th day of January, 2009. _________________________________ James M. Moody United States District Judge 4

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