Crawford v. Place Properties, LP et al

Filing 20

ORDER denying 7 Motion to Dismiss; denying 16 Motion to Strike. Signed by Judge J. Randal Hall on 1/26/17. (cmr)

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IN THE UNITED FOR THE STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA SAVANNAH DIVISION JACQUELINE CRAWFORD, * • Plaintiff, * v, * PLACE PROPERTIES, LP, PLACE MANAGEMENT GROUP, LLC, and FORT STEWART LIBERTY, LLC, doing business as Independence Place Apartments, CV 416-146 * * * * * Defendants. * ORDER In this case, Defendants, because: Defendants viewed Court in claims Court facts her is to support administrative the light most satisfied that for relief. lacks whether move to dismiss (1) her claims are time-barred; sufficient exhaust which arises from Plaintiff's employment with (2) she failed to plead claims; remedies. favorable Plaintiff has and When to complaint (3) the Plaintiff, timely she failed to complaint however, is the alleged plausible And because the record currently before the sufficient Plaintiff her Plaintiff's evidence, exhausted the her Court is unable administrative to decide remedies. Accordingly, (doc. the Court DENIES Defendants' motion to 7). I. Accepting the Factual Background facts alleged in Plaintiff's complaint true and viewing the allegations in the light most Plaintiff, as Martinez, this the 480 case are 1. The Court F.3d as must, 1043, see 1057 Am. (11th United Cir. favorable to Life 2007), as Ins. the Co. v. facts of follows. Parties Defendants 3.) dismiss own and operate apartment Defendants Place Management Group, complexes. LLC and (Compl. SI Independence Place Apartments are subsidiaries of Defendant Place Properties, LP. (See properties id. SI Place 4.) Place Management Properties owns, manages many of the including Independence Place. (Id.) Under this business human-resources, "[h]iring and personnel [are] Atlanta training, firing payroll, decisions Defendants Management] share accounting, and management services, related Management] also made by management who work[] out of the officers [are] of also individual properties, Place officers to and [Place Place Properties office . . . ." "[s]everal 6.) structure, (Id. Properties of the SI 7. ) and/or other including Independence In fact, [Place and/or Place." the (Id. SI Furthermore, Place Properties employs a property manager at each of its properties. regional managers, management. directly was The president the Properties. Plaintiff working to (Id. for Defendants vice Mike of Place who at Management of property time the and management this an of officer suit, of Place She began SISl 8, 16.) is a former until employee in 2009 12.) At 2014, when was a property manager. the time as of a Defendants. She August (Id.) of (Id. Place. terminated. president Rouen, Defendants Independence Property managers report to who answer to the vice president of property (Id.) reports (Id. SI 8.) her leasing consultant at employed by remained her employment termination, was Plaintiff (Id.) 2. Plaintiff's Employment and Termination As noted, in 2009. (Id.) (Id. ) In cancer, which 14.) Anna Not after Plaintiff Plaintiff's would was diagnosed with breast diagnosis, regional not be manager, able to Rouen to SI instructed fire perform (Id. Plaintiff her duties (^d^ I 16.) summer of underwent consultant she was promoted to property manager. Plaintiff's "Plaintiff In the 2013, a leasing required regular chemotherapy treatment. long sufficiently." she In 2012, December Sullivan, because Plaintiff began working as and 2014, Plaintiff took medical recovered from surgery. leave while (Id. SI 20.) Plaintiff received eleven weeks of disability leave, which began July 4, 20.) 2014, and was set to Following her surgery, end September Plaintiff's 19, doctor 2014. sent (Id. SI Defendants a letter explaining that Plaintiff would be cleared to return to work on September 8, 2014. With essentially separation notice (Id. SI 21.) prior notice, late in no July, which July to recover from surgery. return until marks Sept [ember] omitted).) second for notice separation in stated: Per doctors 2014." Then, Plaintiff (Id. some SI reason, August 2014 Other note." than (Id. these (internal (internal that Defendants Plaintiff why they fired her. month of quotation received provided: a "Given Unable to return per quotation reasons, a note unable to Plaintiff the month of July to recover from surgery. doctor's "Given [sic] 26 received marks (Id. SI 28.) II. Soon after she was and retaliation. (Id. allegations, (Id. fired, Plaintiff filed a charge SI 30.) found After Doc. lawsuit on June 14, of investigating Plaintiff's probable cause to support and it issued a right-to-sue letter on March 15, 30-31; to EEOC alleging disability discrimination EEOC claims, explained Procedural Background discrimination with the the never omitted).) 1-1.) Accordingly, Plaintiff filed her 2016. this 2016, alleging that Defendants violated the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Defendants now move to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint. Ill. "To survive relief a motion factual sufficient to Legal Standard matter, that is to dismiss, accepted plausible 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) 550 U.S. 544, 570 on (2007)). two-part the test. See plaintiff rather whether relief. than has mere those id. at 679. facts to face.'" Bell First, specific Atl. plausibly Corp. Iqbal, Twombly, asks Second, rise to claim requires supporting give a v. v. Court Id. contain ^state standard the facts must Ashcroft this conclusions. might complaint true, Applying stated legal as its (quoting a whether a claim it a a asks right to Id^ at 680. The first prong of the inquiry requires that the plaintiff plead "factual reasonable content inference misconduct alleged." must accept complaint," as it "true need that that the Iqbal, all not allows the defendant 556 U.S. of court the "accept couched as a factual allegation." is at 678. allegations as true Id. a to draw for liable the the While the Court contained legal in a conclusion Generalized conclusions and "bare allegations" will not allow the plaintiff to "unlock the doors of discovery." See id. The plaintiff must specific facts that "show" the defendant's misconduct. 679. assert Id. at Once the from mere and Court separates legal conclusions, "determine entitlement to states whether [is] a specific factual it must accept those they relief." a the Id. plausibly allegations facts give rise "Determining whether plausible claim context-specific task that a as to relief the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Well-pleaded facts misconduct; misconduct allege they was facts an complaint for requires true Id. cannot be merely consistent with the alleged must allow plausible. that push the Id. the conceivable to plausible." Court at to 678. claim infer "across Id. at 683 such complaint The that must the line from (internal quotation marks omitted) . Finally, while a "allege 'contain the recovery under some Inc. v. Stephens, material viable Inc., elements inferential necessary legal theory.'" 500 F.3d allege a complaint or or to each element of a claim, it is still necessary that a direct element have precision' either every not fact' all cover does 'specific respecting to plaintiff 1276, allegations to Fin. 1282-83 'with sustain a Sec. Assur., (11th Cir. 2007)(quoting Roe v. Aware Woman Ctr. for Choice, Inc., 253 F.3d 678, 683 (11th Cir. 2001)). IV. Defendants reasons. move First, barred. they Second, allege that Defendants Plaintiff for to Place Management failed to and exhaust her 1. P l a i n t i f f ' s See Bryant v. 2011) ("Under the covered and the Place by Place that ADA. claims the are ADA. Management show And Properties administrative a four time- that Third, argue they finally, argue that employed Defendants that Plaintiff remedies. plaintiff must receives U.S. Plaintiff's for Plaintiff failed to adequately facts of complaint claims are not time-barred. ADA, she are plead purposes the Plaintiff's that Properties failed after argue Defendants Plaintiff days dismiss they argue that Place Under to Discussion a right-to-sue Steel Corp., ADA, a bring suit letter from 428 F. App'x 895, plaintiff must within comply ninety the 897 EEOC. (11th Cir. with the same procedural requirements to sue that exist under Title VII."); 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f) (1) . Defendants because she did contend not that file Plaintiff's suit until received her right-to-sue letter.1 1 Defendants also contend that claims ninety-one are time-barred days after she Specifically, they argue that the right-to-sue letter attached to Plaintiff's complaint is invalid. Specifically, they argue that the EEOC had already issued Plaintiff a right-to-sue letter when it issued the one Plaintiff now relies on, and that it did not have the authority revoke the prior letter and issue a new one. To support this argument, Defendants rely on a number of documents other than the complaint. Because the Court declines to convert Defendants' motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment, it will not address the merits of this argument. 7 she pleaded in her complaint that she received her right-to-sue letter on March 15, 2016. Accordingly, they argue, she had to file suit by June 13, 2016, which she failed to do. Plaintiff does, "received (Compl. her SI 32.) Plaintiff's a complaint. the Notice But of this about a v. City of Miami, Although end the which Plaintiff letter provides 1985) in she 2016." because attached them to the exhibits are as part of the LLP, 678 And "if the allegations of exhibit 1277 that a inquiry When conflict (11th Cir. her letter on March (affirming 15, Ratterree & Adams, it was See Robinson v. City of Fairfield, Cir. that with the exhibit controls." alleges right-to-sue March is treats 2012). 811 F.3d 1271, right-to-sue (11th not particular received her date. on Court contents of the exhibit itself, complaint sue Painter, (11th Cir. her statement. the Reese v. Ellis, complaint does in to letter, complaint, 1215-16 allege Right that contradicts to F.3d 1211, fact, right-to-sue complaint, attached [] in district Hoefling 2016). complaint 15, the 2016, that the actual simply mailed on 750 F.2d 1507, court's finding she that 1510-11 that a plaintiff did not receive a right-to-sue letter on the same day it was mailed, because even though he stated in a filing that "[e]ven the most expeditious method of he did, delivery by our postal service . . . would not have" delivered the letter before the day after it was sent) . Thus, when the allegations in the 8 complaint are viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the Court is unconvinced that her claims are untimely — at least at this stage of the litigation. Defendants' motion on this Accordingly, the Court DENIES issue. 2 . Plaintiff sufficiently alleged that Defendants are covered by the ADA. Defendants contend that Plaintiff Defendants are covered by the ADA.2 failed to are covered § 12111(5) (A). by the [ADA] ." According to that In her complaint, Plaintiff alleges that "Defendants employ more than fifteen and plead 1 (Compl. Defendants, 9); this (15) see employees 42 U.S.C. statement is too conclusory to satisfy the pleading requirements of Bell Atlantic Corporation Iqbal, 556 v. Twombly, U.S. 662 Plaintiff has met Cove Marina 4751578, plaintiff under at VII, (2009). Assoc, (M.D. adequately Title U.S. 544 the But (2007), Court the pleading standard. Condo. *3-4 550 No. Fla. pleaded even though and is Cf. Ashcroft satisfied Booher v. 8:14-cv-3158-T-36EAJ, Aug. that she 11, a 2015) defendant did not was that Turtle 2015 (finding an v. that WL a employer specifically allege that the defendant was an employer, because she alleged that she "was (citation omitted) employed with" the defendant (emphasis 2 In the portion of their brief that addresses this issue, Defendants refer only to Independence Place. Presumably, this is because they believe the claims against Place Management and Place Properties should fail for other reasons. But because the claims against all Defendants will forward, the Court refers to all Defendants when discussing this issue. go in original)). this Thus, the Court DENIES Defendants' Place Management failed to sufficiently term ^employer' 1289, 1297 how much plead Peppers 2016). In whether the alleged modify employment." Defendants Id. contend "one otherwise the terms In the applies employer while independent employer and employed have v. exerted had to this case contracting company, the the — sufficient control of the terms and conditions In her complaint, F.3d "(1) hire, employee's — which consider faith with an for itself of employment of the employees who are employed by the other employer." Riviera Beach Assocs., to courts retained the employee, context in good has 835 power of joint-employer In consider on the conditions her. Cty., courts and Plaintiff interpreted Cobb general, alleged employer Management argue that they "courts the or whether cases, liberally." (11th Cir. that control (2) Place and Place Properties employment-discrimination fire, on issue. 3. Plaintiff adequately pleaded that Place Properties are her employers. and motion Virgo v. 30 F.3d 1350, 1360 (11th Cir. 1994). Plaintiff alleges that Place Management and Independence Place are "under the control of their parent corporation, accounting, Place Properties"; human-resources, that Place Properties provides training, payroll, and management services to properties managed by Place Management; that Place 10 Properties makes Management; and SISI 4, 8.) Court is hiring that While and Place firing Properties decisions paid her for salary. Place (Compl. these allegations may prove to be untrue, unconvinced that Plaintiff's claims against the Place Properties and Place Management should fail at this stage of the litigation. this Accordingly, the Court DENIES Defendants' motion on Court not Plaintiff issue. 4. The will yet address whether exhausted her administrative remedies. Place Management Plaintiff's them in party claims her not subsequent however, EEOC in Place them It the is this sued. 30 cannot F.3d argue she that, charge at requirement, [law] are fulfilled, charge" may still be because true Virgo, construe Properties fail EEOC action." liberally purposes of the against charge. named civil and did that not " [o] rdinarily, be sued 1358. and in the similarity "[w]here Courts interest between the named (3) whether the unnamed parties received adequate notice of the charges; (4) whether the unnamed parties had an adequate opportunity to participate in the reconciliation process; and (5) whether the unnamed party actually was prejudiced by its exclusion from the EEOC proceedings. at 1359. 11 the look to a party and the unnamed party; (2) whether the plaintiff could have ascertained the identity of the unnamed party at the time the EEOC charge was filed; Id. a a party unnamed in the EEOC Id. at 1358-59. of a Courts, number of factors when making this decision: (1) name And exhaust when faced with administrative a remedies, the plaintiff's complaint. 1376 2008). (11th Cir. motion to dismiss for a court may often See Bryant v. Rich, it may do But so only if Here, to a develop little factual evidence therefore, the parties on have record this on issue DENIES Defendants' the reasons motion Defendants' motion to strike January, ENTERED Id. the (footnote opportunity Indeed, Court. there The is Court, Conclusion dismiss at before explained Defendants' ORDER to issue. 1368, "the parties had an ample this F.3d motion on this issue. V. For not to look beyond 530 have sufficient opportunity to develop a record." omitted). failure above, (doc. (doc. Augusta, 7) . the The Court Court DENIES also DENIES 16). Georgia this ^Pffik- day of 2017. HONOfRTfeCE \T. UNITED STATES SOUTHERN 12 RAtsTDAL HALL DISTRICT DISTRICT JUDGE OF GEORGIA

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