Glover v. Wells Fargo Bank et al
ORDER granting 27 Motion to Dismiss/General. All claims against the individual Defendants Karen Lawson, Amber H., Destiny R., Brittany, Ajzhanb, and Maria are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. All of Plaintiff's claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 42 U.S.C. § 1988, and Minn. Stat. § 363A.12, subd. 1, are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. See Order for details. (Written Opinion) Signed by Judge Katherine M. Menendez on 1/18/2022. (BJP)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
No. 22-cv-1459 (KMM/ECW)
Wells Fargo Bank, Karen Lawson,
Amber H., Destiny R., Brittany, Ajzhanb,
The Plaintiff, Wilbert Glover, brought this case pro se against Defendants, Wells
Fargo Bank and several individuals. Generally speaking, Mr. Glover alleges that the
Defendants denied him equal credit opportunities based on his race in violation of the Equal
Credit Opportunity Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1691, and other statutes. This matter is now before
the Court on the Defendants’ motion to dismiss the Complaint. [Doc. 27]. Defendants
argue that Mr. Glover has failed to serve the Complaint on any of the individual
Defendants, that he has failed to state any claim for relief against the individual Defendants,
and that some of his claims should be dismissed as to all Defendants. For the reasons
discussed below, the Defendants’ motion is granted.
Because the Court is addressing a motion to dismiss, the relevant background is
drawn from the facts alleged in Mr. Glover’s Complaint. Topchian v. JPMorgan Chase
Bank, N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014). Mr. Glover is Black, and he has been a
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Wells Fargo customer since at least 2014. The Complaint lists a series of interactions he
had with Wells Fargo personnel over several months, some of which involve allegations of
racist statements by Wells Fargo employees, and others that involve conduct Mr. Glover
attributes to racial bias.
Mr. Glover applied for Wells Fargo credit cards in August 2019 and July 2020, but
both requests were denied. [Doc. 1 ¶ 7] On August 18, 2020, Mr. Glover applied for an
auto loan, but because his credit score was 690, his application was denied. [Id. ¶ 8].
Because Mr. Glover believed that a person of any race with a credit score over 600 would
be approved for an auto loan, he attempted to contact Wells Fargo. However, no one
“answer[ed] [be]cause of race[;] a black man asking for a loan.” [Id.]
On November 27, 2020, Mr. Glover “was denied customer services due to [his]
race.” [Id.] An unidentified “bank teller” called him “a Black boy,” “stated you people,”
and “stated she do not respect Black people and don’t believe nothing a Black man say.”
[Id.] Mr. Glover asked to speak to a manager, but the bank teller refused to connect him.
In January 2021, Mr. Glover complained about not receiving a debit card to
customer service. [Id. ¶ 9]. When he called, he spoke to the individual Defendant Brittany,
but “she refuse[d] to take [his] complaint.” [Id.] Then, Mr. Glover talked to the individual
Defendant Ajzhanb, who like Brittany, is in Wells Fargo’s “Enterprise Complaint
Management Office.” [Id.] Mr. Glover asked to speak to a supervisor, but “both of them
terminate[d] the call.” Instead, he states that he was “denied public service [be]cause [he is
a] Black man.” [Id.]
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In February 2021, Mr. Glover raised another complaint to Wells Fargo when he
received a notification that he would be charged a $15.00 monthly service fee for failure
to meet a $1,000.00 minimum balance on his account. [Id.] At the time, Mr. Glover’s
balance was over $2,373.00, and Wells Fargo continued taking out the monthly service fee.
[Id.] Mr. Glover asserts that this was due to “deliberate indifference base of race.” [Id.]
Mr. Glover contacted Wells Fargo again in March 2021, but he had another
unpleasant experience. [Id. ¶ 10]. He spoke to someone named Jack to make a complaint
about how Brittany and Ajzhanb had treated him, but Jack refused to help him. Jack “stated
all Black people [are] wrong and [he] is not going to make a complaint on [a] coworker for
[any] Black person,” and then hung up the phone. [Id.]
In June 2021, Mr. Glover complained again that he still had not received a debit
card. [Id.] He spoke to someone identified as “Trina R.” and also raised the issue of having
been turned down for a credit card. [Id.] Mr. Glover asserts that this too was due to racial
In August 2021, after having been denied a request for a home mortgage loan,
Mr. Glover contacted Wells Fargo looking to speak with someone about the denial. [Id.]
He was told that there was no one there to talk to him. [Id.]
On December 13, 2021, Mr. Glover contacted Wells Fargo to make a complaint and
spoke to the individual Defendant Amber H. Mr. Glover raised the issue of the refusal to
send him a debit card and an experience he had with a teller at the Roseville, Minnesota,
branch. [Id. ¶ 11]. Mr. Glover asserts that at the Roseville location, “the white lady teller
in the drive through refuse[d] to provide customer services” to him, despite the fact that no
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other customer was in line behind him. [Id.] The teller “waved her hand . . . and ‘said
stated’ bye, bye blackie not in this drive through at Roseville branch.” [Id.] Mr. Glover
went inside the Roseville branch and made a complaint about the teller’s behavior to the
supervisor, but the supervisor did nothing other than refuse to give Mr. Glover her name.
Later that day, Mr. Glover spoke with the individual Defendant Maria, a teller, to
tell her that his debit card did not work. [Id. ¶ 11.B]. Maria refused to put the name of a
vendor on a money order for Mr. Glover even though he had his driver’s license and the
non-functioning debit card in hand. [Id.]
On January 11, 2022, Mr. Glover alleges that the individual Defendant Karen
Lawson, who is alleged to be a Wells Fargo “Executive Office Specialis[t],” “lied and said
the debit card [he requested] was returned to them [be]cause the address was incorrect.”
[Id.] Although Mr. Glover intended to lodge a complaint about treatment he had received
from Brittany, Jack, and Ajzhand, Ms. Lawson allegedly terminated the call because he is
Black. And when Mr. Glover attempted to call back “a number of times, [he] kept getting
[the] phone call terminate[d] [be]cause this is [a] complaint against white worker[s] from
[a] Black man.” [Id.]
Defendants argue: (1) that the Complaint should be dismissed against all the
individual defendants under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) because it fails to
state a claim for relief against them; (2) that the Complaint also fails to state certain claims
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against any Defendant; and (3) the individual Defendants should be dismissed because
Mr. Glover failed to properly serve them.
A. Legal Standard
To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain “enough
facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007). This standard does not require the inclusion of “detailed factual
allegations” in a pleading, but the complaint must contain facts with enough specificity “to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. at 555. “Threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements,” are not sufficient.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In applying
this standard, the Court must assume the facts in the complaint to be true and take all
reasonable inferences from those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Waters
v. Madson, 921 F.3d 725, 734 (8th Cir. 2019). But the Court need not accept as true any
wholly conclusory allegations or legal conclusions that the plaintiff draws from the facts
pled. Glick v. W. Power Sports, Inc., 944 F.3d 714, 717 (8th Cir. 2019).
Mr. Glover is a pro se litigant, meaning that he is a non-lawyer, representing himself
in this action. Pleadings filed by pro se litigants are given a “liberal construction.” E.g.,
Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004). This means “that if the essence of an
allegation is discernible . . . then the district court should construe the complaint in a way
that permits the layperson’s claim to be considered within the proper legal framework.”
Id.; see also Solomon v. Petray, 795 F.3d 777, 787 (8th Cir. 2015) (same). However, under
this rule a court “may neither ‘supply additional facts nor . . . construct a legal theory for
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plaintiff that assumes facts that have not been pleaded.” Dixon v. Clearwire Corp. ex rel
Clear Wireless LLC, Civil No. 11-2558 (JNE/JSM), 2014 WL 468197, at *2 (D. Minn.
Feb. 6, 2014) (quoting Stone, 364 F.3d at 915)). As a result, even applying the liberalconstruction rule to Mr. Glover’s Complaint in this case, he must nevertheless allege
sufficient facts to state a plausible claim consistent with Rule 8(a), Iqbal, and Twombly.
Based on the Court’s careful review of the Complaint, the Defendants’ motion to
dismiss, and the entire record, the Court grants the Defendants’ motion. The Court
construes Mr. Glover’s claims according to the statutory provisions he has cited in his
Complaint, and has not identified any alternative cause of action that more appropriately
addresses his factual allegations.
Defendants argue that because Mr. Glover has filed many cases in this District, the
Court should more strictly construe his pleadings. [Defs.’ Mem. at 7 n.1 (listing Plaintiff’s
prior litigation and citing cases where courts have augmented the liberal-construction
rule)]; Sledge v. Kooi, 564 F.3d 105, 109 (2d Cir. 2009); Lopez v. Genesis FS Card Servs.,
No. 21-CV-1370 (LTS), 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77700 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 21, 2021)
(application of the rule “depends upon a variety of factors, including the procedural context
and relevant characteristics of the particular litigant”); Darby v. Redmann, Case No. 3:09cv-045, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145087, at *8 (D.N.D. Feb. 8, 2010); see also Turner v.
ILG Techs., LLC, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175763, at *41–42 (W.D. Mo. Sept. 28, 2022).
The Court need not resolve this issue because, even giving the Complaint the liberal
construction ordinarily afforded to pro se pleadings, the Court grants Defendants’ motion
to dismiss for failure to state a claim.
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1. 28 U.S.C. § 1331
First, although Mr. Glover cites 28 U.S.C. § 1331, it does not appear that he does so
as the basis of a substantive claim. To the extent he intended to do so, such a claim would
fail because section 1331 simply establishes the district courts’ federal-question
jurisdiction; it does not itself create substantive rights independent of some other cause of
action. See Sabhari v. Reno, 197 F.3d 938, 943 (8th Cir. 1999) (“Nevertheless, § 1331 does
not, in and of itself, create substantive rights in suits brought against the United States.”);
One Thousand Friends of Iowa v. Mineta, 250 F. Supp. 2d 1064, 1073 (S.D. Iowa 2002)
(finding that § 1331 does not provide an “independent cause of action” and citing Sabhari,
197 F.3d at 943).
2. Minn. Stat. § 363A.12
Second, the Court considers Mr. Glover’s lone citation to a state law, Minn. Stat.
§ 363A.12. That statute provides, in relevant part, that it is an “unfair discriminatory
practice to discriminate against any person in the access to, admission to, full utilization of
or benefit from any public service because of race.” Id. § 363A.12, subd. 1. A “public
service” is defined as “any public facility, department, agency, board or commission
owned, operated or managed by or on behalf of the state of Minnesota.” Id. § 363A.03,
The Complaint does not allege facts that would support a reasonable inference that
Wells Fargo or any of the individual Defendants qualifies as a “public service” within the
meaning of these state laws. Minn. Stat. § 363A.03, subd. 35; id. § 363A.12, subd. 1. As a
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result, the Complaint fails to state a claim for relief under this state statute, and this claim
is dismissed in its entirety.
3. 42 U.S.C. § 1988
Third, Mr. Glover’s Complaint includes a reference to 42 U.S.C. § 1988, which
allows the prevailing party in a civil suit brought under one of several statutory provisions
to recover “a reasonable attorney’s fee.”2 To the extent Mr. Glover attempts to assert a
claim under section 1988, it fails because he is not entitled to recover attorney’s fees as a
pro se litigant. McDermott v. Royal, 123 F. App’x 241, 242 n.3 (8th Cir. 2004) (per curiam)
(“We note that a pro se litigant is not entitled to attorney fees under section 1988.”).
Accordingly, any claim under section 1988 fails as a matter of law and is dismissed in its
4. The Remaining Claims
The remaining statutory references in the Complaint prohibit certain forms of racial
discrimination: 42 U.S.C. § 1981; 42 U.S.C. § 1982; and 15 U.S.C. § 1691. Defendants
argue that the Complaint fails to state a claim against any of the individual Defendants
under these statutes, and the Court agrees.3 Because all claims against the individual
Defendants are dismissed in this order for failure to state a claim, the Court does not address
Though the handwritten Complaint references “12 U.S.C. § 1988,” no such
provision exists. Given the context of Mr. Glover’s other claims, the Court construes the
Complaint as seeking recovery of attorney’s fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988.
In their motion to dismiss, Defendants do not argue that the section 1981, section
1982, or section 1691 claims should be dismissed with respect to Wells Fargo.
Accordingly, the Court does not consider whether the Complaint adequately states a claim
against Wells Fargo under any of those statutes.
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Defendants’ alternative argument that the individuals should be dismissed because they
have not been properly served with the Summons and Complaint.
Section 1981 and 1982 – Contracts and Property Rights
“Sections 1981 and 1982 protect citizens’ rights to make and enforce contracts and
purchase both personal and real property without any impairment due to private or public
racial discrimination.” Daniels v. Dillard’s, Inc., 373 F.3d 885, 887 (8th Cir. 2004). The
flaw in the Complaint with respect to these claims is that the facts alleged do not plausibly
suggest that the individual Defendants themselves engaged in racial discrimination.
Section 1981 addresses racial discrimination in the making and enforcement of
contracts. 42 U.S.C. § 1981(a); see Withers v. Dick’s Sporting Goods, Inc., 636 F.3d 958,
962 (8th Cir. 2011) (citing § 1981(a)). The protection against discrimination in making and
enforcing contracts includes “the making, performance, modification, and termination of
contracts, and the enjoyment of all benefits, privileges, terms, and conditions of the
contractual relationship.” 42 U.S.C. § 1981(b). Plaintiffs asserting a § 1981 claim must
allege facts demonstrating the following elements: “(1) membership in a protected class,
(2) discriminatory intent on the part of the defendant, (3) engagement in a protected
activity, and (4) interference with that activity by defendant.” Hoosman v. 1st Class Sec.,
Inc., 2013 WL 5890680, at *4 (N.D. Iowa Nov. 4, 2013) (quoting Gregory v. Dillard’s,
Inc., 565 F.3d 464, 469 (8th Cir. 2009)). Further, to state a claim under § 1981 a plaintiff
must “initially plead . . . that, but for race, [he or she] would not have suffered the loss of
a legally protected right.” Comcast Corp. v. Nat’l Ass’n of Afr. Am.-Owned Media, 140 S.
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Ct. 1009, 1019 (2020); Johnson v. Schulte Hosp. Grp., Inc., Civil No. 21-457 ADM/TNL,
2022 WL 597510, at *9 (D. Minn. Feb. 28, 2022).
Section 1982 states that “[a]ll citizens of the United States shall have the same right,
in every State and Territory, as is enjoyed by white citizens thereof to inherit, purchase,
lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property.” “The elements of a § 1982 claim
are (1) membership in a protected class; (2) discriminatory intent on the part of the
defendant; and (3) interference with the rights or benefits connected with the ownership”
or rental of property. McKenzie v. Fabian, 2008 WL 5122118, at *4 (D. Minn. Nov. 21,
2008) (citing Daniels v. Dillard’s, Inc., 373 F.3d at 887); Green v. Ramsey, No. 14-cv4856 (SRN/LIB), 2015 WL 5672990, at *7 (D. Minn. Sept. 24, 2015) (explaining that
§ 1982 prohibits racial discrimination with respect to the “right to purchase or lease
property,” and is “applicable to commercial real estate”). Though these authorities often
focus on real property, the statute’s protections plainly extend to “personal property” rights
as well.4 42 U.S.C. § 1982 (“. . . and personal property”).
Both sections 1981 and 1982 require a showing of a defendant’s discriminatory
intent, which requires a focus on the conduct of each of the individual Defendants as
Courts appear to disagree about whether “personal property” under § 1982
includes contract rights. See Hunter v. Am. Gen. Life and Accident Ins. Co., 375 F. Supp.
2d 442, 445, n.3 (D.S.C. 2005) (stating that the “majority view is that Section 1982 does
not apply to contract rights”). Section 1982 has been applied where a bank has been accused
of closing customers’ accounts based on their race. El-Hallani v. Huntington Nat’l Bank,
623 F. App’x 730 (6th Cir. 2015). Defendants have not argued that the Complaint fails to
adequately allege facts implicating “personal property,” and the Court assumes without
deciding that the Complaint implicates a right to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold or
convey “personal property” within the meaning of § 1982.
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alleged by Mr. Glover. One of the individual Defendants named in the Complaint is
Destiny R., but there are no allegations about what conduct she engaged in that interfered
with Mr. Glover’s protected activity. Even if we were to assume that Mr. Glover’s
reference to a “Trina R.” (Paragraph 10 of the Complaint) was meant to be about
Destiny R., he offers only the conclusory assertion that, when he raised a complaint to this
individual during a call about not receiving a debit card and being turned down for a credit
card, the experience involved “bias.” There is nothing more, and the Court need not take
such a conclusory assertion of discriminatory intent as true. The Complaint fails to state a
§ 1981 or § 1982 claim as to Destiny R.
Similarly, the Complaint fails to state a § 1981 or § 1982 claim concerning
Defendant Amber H. Mr. Glover alleges that he made a complaint to Amber H. about the
treatment he was subjected to by a teller in the drive-through at the Roseville branch, but
he does not allege that Amber H. engaged in any discriminatory conduct herself, nor that
she discriminated against him in the making or enforcement of any contract. Consequently,
there is no plausible claim against Amber H. under either statute.
The Complaint asserts that Defendants Brittany and Ajzhanb hung up the phone on
Mr. Glover when he called to make a complaint in January 2021, and that Defendant Maria,
a teller at the Roseville branch, refused to put the name of a vendor on a money order for
him in December 2021. However, the Complaint does not assert any facts that support a
plausible inference that these Defendants’ behavior involved intentional racial
discrimination. Instead, the Complaint offers only conclusory statements to that effect,
while it attributes racially charged language to others, not these individuals. Accordingly,
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there are no facts from which to draw inferences of discriminatory intent in Mr. Glover’s
favor as to these Defendants, and his § 1981 and § 1982 claims against them are dismissed.
As for Ms. Lawson, Mr. Glover alleges that she lied to him about the return of a
debit card and terminated a call in which he intended to complain about the conduct of
other Wells Fargo personnel, including Brittany, Jack, and Ajzhanb. The Complaint
suggests that Ms. Lawson engaged in this conduct because Mr. Glover was complaining
about Wells Fargo’s “white worker[s],” but there are no allegations of fact to support an
inference that Ms. Lawson had a discriminatory intent, only speculation. The Complaint
does not allege, for example, that Ms. Lawson is the one who told him “they are part of
Wells Fargo [and] you is black.” [Doc. 1 ¶ 11.B]. Nor are there allegations that would
suggest Ms. Lawson was aware of the race of any of the individuals about whose conduct
Mr. Glover was raising concerns.
Simply stated, the allegations of discriminatory conduct by these individual
Defendants are too conclusory and fall short of those where courts have found claims on
comparable fact patterns to be plausible. See, e.g., Maystrenko v. Wells Fargo, N.A., Case
No. 21-cv-00133-JD, 2021 WL 5232221, at *1, *3 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 10, 2021) (plaintiffs
sufficiently alleged that the bank had denied their credit card applications based on alienage
in violation of § 1981 pursuant to bank policies, identified specifically in the complaint, to
exclude non-citizens from banking services and identified supporting facts in connection
with the bank’s credit denials); El-Hallani, 624 F. App’x at 735–37 (finding allegations
that bank systematically closed accounts of Arab and Middle-Eastern individuals sufficient
to state a § 1982 claim).
CASE 0:22-cv-01459-KMM-ECW Doc. 48 Filed 01/18/23 Page 13 of 14
15 U.S.C. § 1691 – Equal Credit Opportunity Act
Finally, the Court turns to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”), 15 U.S.C.
§ 1691. Under the ECOA “[i]t shall be unlawful for any creditor to discriminate against
any applicant, with respect to any aspect of a credit transaction . . . on the basis of race.”
Id. § 1691(a)(1). “A ‘creditor’ is defined in the ECOA as ‘any person who regularly
extends, renews, or continues credit,’ including any person who ‘arranges for’ or
‘participates’ in such credit decisions.” Johnson v. Perdue, 862 F.3d 712, 717 (8th Cir.
2017) (quoting 15 U.S.C. § 1691a(e)). The statute applies to those applying for “credit,”
which “means the right granted by a creditor to a debtor to defer payment of debt or to
incur debts and defer its payment or to purchase property or services and defer payment
therefor.” 15 U.S.C. § 1691a(d).
None of the allegations in the Complaint suggest that the individual Defendants
qualifies as a “creditor” or that any of their complained of conduct involved a “credit
transaction” within the meaning of the ECOA. The Complaint describes Mr. Glover’s
efforts to raise complaints to Amber H. regarding discriminatory treatment at the Roseville
branch drive through by a teller, but there is nothing tying that racially motivated treatment
to any credit transaction. Mr. Glover’s alleged interaction with Brittany and Ajzhanb
involved his attempts to complain about not receiving a debit card, and his alleged
interaction with Maria involved a money order, but there are no allegations relating to any
aspect of a credit transaction involving those individual Defendants. And finally,
Ms. Lawson’s alleged conduct involved lies concerning the return of a debit card, not a
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credit card or other aspect of a credit transaction. For these reasons, the Court concludes
that the Complaint fails to state any ECOA claim against the individual Defendants.
Based on the discussion above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT Defendants’
Motion to Dismiss [Doc. 27] is GRANTED. All claims against the individual Defendants
Karen Lawson, Amber H., Destiny R., Brittany, Ajzhanb, and Maria are DISMISSED
WITH PREJUDICE. Further, all of Plaintiff’s claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 42 U.S.C.
§ 1988, and Minn. Stat. § 363A.12, subd. 1, are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
Date: January 18, 2023
United States District Judge
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