Major v. State of Indiana et al
OPINION AND ORDER granting 19 MOTION for Judgment on the Pleadings filed by Indiana Department of Corrections, Indiana State of. Judgment is granted in favor of Defendants only on Plaintiff's claims for racial discrimination and punitive damages. Signed by Magistrate Judge John E Martin on 10/23/17. (ksp)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
STATE OF INDIANA and INDIANA
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS,
) CAUSE NO.: 2:17-CV-12-JEM
OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings [DE 19],
filed by Defendants on September 21, 2017. Plaintiff has not filed a response and the time to do so
On January 25, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC against
Westville Correctional Center, and filed a Complaint of Discrimination on March 14, 2016. On
October 12, 2016, the EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue. On January 12, 2017, Plaintiff filed
her Complaint alleging discrimination on the basis of sex, race, and sexual orientation, as well as
retaliation, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.
The parties have consented to have this case assigned to a United States Magistrate Judge
to conduct all further proceedings and to order the entry of a final judgment in this case. Thus, this
Court has jurisdiction to decide this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).
Standard of Review
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides that “[a]fter the pleadings are closed–but
early enough not to delay trial–a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(c). The Court applies the same standard to a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule
12(c) as is used to determine motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). See
Guise v. BWM Mortg., LLC, 377 F.3d 795, 798 (7th Cir. 2004). When addressing a motion for
judgment on the pleadings, the Court must “view the facts in the complaint in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party and will grant the motion only if it appears beyond doubt that the
plaintiff cannot prove any facts that would support his claim for relief.” Buchanan-Moore v. Cnty.
of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting N. Ind. Gun & Outdoor Shows, Inc. v. City
of South Bend, 163 F.3d 449, 452 (7th Cir. 1998)) (internal quotations omitted). When ruling on a
12(c) motion, the Court considers only the pleadings, which “include the complaint, the answer, and
written instruments attached as exhibits.” N. Ind. Gun & Outdoor Shows, 163 F.3d at 452.
Defendants argue that Plaintiff’s race discrimination claim is barred for failure to exhaust
her administrative remedies because she failed to file a charge of race discrimination with the
“A plaintiff must file a timely charge with the EEOC encompassing the acts complained of
as a prerequisite to filing suit in federal court.” Babrocky v. Jewel Food Co., 773 F.2d 857, 863 (7th
Cir. 1985) (citing Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 415 U.S. 36, 47 (1974)). Requiring a plaintiff
to first file with the EEOC “serves two purposes: affording the EEOC the opportunity to settle the
dispute between the employee and employer, and putting the employer on notice of the charges
against it.” Sitar v. Ind. DOT, 344 F.3d 720, 726 (7th Cir. 2003)(citations omitted). Accordingly,
“[a]s a general rule, a Title VII plaintiff cannot bring claims in a lawsuit that were not included in
her EEOC charge.” Cheek v. Western & S. Life Ins. Co., 31 F.3d 497, 500 (7th Cir. 1994). Claims
not included in the charge can still be brought “if they are ‘like or reasonably related to the
allegations of the [EEOC] charge and growing out of such allegations.’” Moore v. Vital Prod., Inc.,
641 F.3d 253, 256–57 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Jenkins v. Blue Cross Mut. Hosp. Ins., Inc., 538 F.2d
164, 167 (7th Cir.1976)).
The documents Plaintiff provided to the EEOC indicate that she believed she had been
discriminated against on the basis of sex and retaliation.1 They note that she is African-American,
but state that she “was the victim of sexual Harassment” and that she “truly believe[s] that [her]
sexual orientation is the only reason [she] was terminated.” The mere fact that Plaintiff’s EEOC
charge mentions her race is insufficient to give notice of a race discrimination claim, nor do the
documents give any indication that a race discrimination claim would grow out of an investigation
of sex discrimination. Plaintiff failed to file a charge of race discrimination with the EEOC.
Therefore, Defendants are entitled to judgment on Plaintiff’s race discrimination claims.
Defendants also requests that the Court dismiss Plaintiff’s claims for punitive damages. Title
VII provides that a plaintiff “may recover punitive damages under this section against a respondent
(other than a government, government agency or political subdivision).” 42 U.S.C.A. § 1981a(b)(1).
Defendants are governmental agencies, so any request for punitive damages must be dismissed. See
Baker v. Runyon, 114 F.3d 668, 669 (7th Cir. 1997); Bowman v. Ill. Dep’t of Corr., No. 03 C 7420,
2004 WL 406772, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 27, 2004).
For the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby GRANTS the Motion for Partial Judgment on
Although Plaintiff did not attach a copy of her EEOC Charge to the Complaint, it is referred to therein, and
Defendants have attached it to the instant Motion. See Adams v. City of Indianapolis, 742 F. 3d 720, 729 (7th Cir. 2014)
(declining to convert a motion for judgment on the pleadings to a motion for summary judgment when EEOC charges
were attached, since they were referred to in the complaint and therefore part of the pleadings).
the Pleadings [DE 19] and ORDERS that judgment is granted in favor of Defendants only on
Plaintiff’s claims for racial discrimination and punitive damages.
SO ORDERED this 23rd day of October, 2017.
s/ John E. Martin
MAGISTRATE JUDGE JOHN E. MARTIN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
All counsel of record
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