Jones v. St. Louis, Missouri city of et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER-- HEREBY ORDERED, pursuant to the above, that Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 21 ) is GRANTED. FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff shall have until no later than Wednesday, March 13, 2013 to file an amended complaint, in accordance with the foregoing. ( Amended/Supplemental Pleadings due by 3/13/2013.). Signed by District Judge Jean C. Hamilton on 03/05/2013. (CLK)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
CITY OF ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI,
a Municipal Corporation and a political
subdivision of the State of Missouri
Case No. 4:12-CV-00831
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s First Amended
Complaint (Doc. No. 21). The motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition.
Plaintiff Keith Jones (“Plaintiff”) was employed by Defendant City of St. Louis (the “City”),
in its Facilities Management Division, as an electrician. (First Amendment Complaint (Doc. No.
18), hereinafter “Complaint” or “Compl.”, ¶ 4.)
Plaintiff appears to be employed by the City at
Plaintiff alleges that, since at least January 21, 2009, the City “has subjected Plaintiff to
harassment because of his race, black, and regarding Plaintiff as having a disability (diabetes) ....”
(Id. ¶ 9.) On July 27, 2009, Plaintiff filed charges of discrimination with the Missouri Commission
on Human Rights and with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging continuing
employment discrimination based on his race and disability. (Id. ¶ 2.) Plaintiff filed an amended
charge of discrimination on March 5, 2010. (Id.)
Plaintiff initiated this action on May 9, 2012, alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), as well as 42
U.S.C. § 1981. By Order dated October 30, 2012, the Court dismissed Plaintiff’s initial complaint
insofar as Plaintiff sought (1) to hold certain of Plaintiff’s supervisors liable under Title VII and the
ADA in their individual capacities; (2) an award of punitive damages; and (3) to hold the City liable
under 42 U.S.C. § 1981. (Doc. No. 16.)
Plaintiff was granted leave to amend. (Doc. No. 16.) Plaintiff now asserts violations of Title
VII, the ADA, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, by the City, predicated on allegations very similar to those in
Plaintiff’s initial complaint. The City has moved to dismiss the operative Complaint and,
alternatively, for a more definite statement. (Doc. No. 21.)
A. Plaintiff’s Title VII and ADA Claims Fail to Comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8
The City seeks, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b), to dismiss Plaintiff’s Title VII and ADA
claims for failure to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8, which requires that a complaint contain “a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief” (Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2))
and that allegations in a complaint “be simple, concise, and direct” (Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1)).
The Court agrees with the City that Plaintiff has failed to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 as to
his Title VII and ADA claims. In the Court’s view, Plaintiff’s allegations in this regard are jumbled,
confusing, and (in multiple instances) inconsistent.
The deficiencies in Plaintiff’s Complaint make it difficult for the Court to determine whether
the factual allegations therein “plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief” that rises above a “mere
possibility of misconduct.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 681, 12 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868
(2009); see also Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 449 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir.
2007) (“at some point the factual detail in a complaint may be so sketchy that the complaint does not
provide the type of notice of the claim to which the defendant is entitled under Rule 8”).
“A complaint which fails to comply with Rule 8 may be dismissed with prejudice pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b) after allowing time to file an amended complaint.” Mangan v. Weinberg, 848
F.2d 909, 911 (8th Cir. 1988). Such dismissals are drastic sanctions, however, and should be
exercised sparingly. Id.
The Court will permit Plaintiff to amend his Complaint a second time. The Court is aware
that “[c]ivil rights pleadings should be construed liberally.” Frey v. City of Herculaneum, 44 F.3d
667, 671 (8th Cir. 1995). “At the very least, however, the complaint must contain facts which state
a claim as a matter of law and must not be conclusory.” Id. “While a plaintiff need not set forth
detailed factual allegations or specific facts that describe the evidence to be presented, the complaint
must include sufficient factual allegations to provide the grounds on which the claim rests.” Gregory
v. Dillards, Inc., 565 F.3d 464, 473 (8th Cir. 2009) (citations and quotations omitted). “A district
court, therefore, is not required to divine the litigant’s intent and create claims that are not clearly
raised, and it need not conjure up unpled allegations to save a complaint.” Id. (citations and
To state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Title VII, Plaintiff is required to
present a prima facie case of race discrimination: (1) that he is a member of a protected class; (2)
that he was qualified for his position; and (3) that he suffered an adverse employment action under
circumstances permitting an inference that the action was the result of unlawful discrimination. See
Johnson v. Ready Mixed Concrete Co., 424 F.3d 806, 810 (8th Cir. 2005) (citing Habib v.
NationsBank, 279 F.3d 563, 566 (8th Cir. 2001)). These elements are not readily discernible from
the allegations in Plaintiff’s Complaint.
To state a claim upon which relief can be granted under the ADA, Plaintiff is required to
present a prima facie case of discrimination due to disability: (1) that he is disabled within the
meaning of the ADA; (2) that he is qualified to perform the essential functions of his job with or
without a reasonable accommodation; and (3) that he suffered an adverse employment action because
of his disability. See Thompson v. Bi-State Dev. Agency, 463 F.3d 821, 824-25 (8th Cir. 2006);
Samuels v. Kansas City Mo. Sch. Dist., 437 F.3d 797, 801 (8th Cir. 2006). These elements, too, are
not readily discernible from the allegations in Plaintiff’s Complaint.
The ADA defines a “disability” as: (1) a physical or mental impairment that substantially
limits on or more of the major life activities of an individual; (2) a record of such an impairment; or
(3) being regarded as having such an impairment. See 42 U.S.C. § 12102(1).
The Court notes that “[t]o be substantially limited in the life activity of performing manual
tasks a plaintiff ‘must have an impairment that prevents or severely restricts the individual from
doing activities that are of central importance to most people’s daily lives.” Philip v. Ford Motor
Co., 328 F.3d 1020, 1024 (8th Cir. 2003) (quoting Toyota Motor Mfg., Ky., Inc. v. Williams, 534
U.S. 184, 198, 122 S.Ct. 681, 151 L.Ed.2d 615 (2002)). “In other words, the relevant inquiry when
addressing the major life activity of performing manual tasks is ‘whether the claimant is unable to
perform the variety of tasks central to most people’s daily lives, not whether the claimant is unable
to perform the tasks associated with [his] specific job.’” Id. at 1025 (quoting Williams, 534 U.S. at
200-01, 122 S.Ct. 681).
The Court observes, further, that one is “regarded as” having an impairment “if the individual
establishes that he or she has been subjected to an action prohibited under this chapter because of
an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment whether or not the impairment limits or is
perceived to limit a major life activity.” 42 U.S.C. § 12102(3)(A). It is not enough, however, for
a plaintiff to demonstrate that he is regarded as unable to perform a particular job or type of job. See
Shipley v. City of University City, 195 F.3d 1020, 1023 (citing Sutton v. United Air Lines, Inc., 527
U.S. 471, 491-92, 119 S.Ct. 2139, 144 L.Ed.2d 450 (1999)). “To be regarded as substantially limited
in the major life activity of working, one must be regarded as precluded from a substantial class of
The Court is not satisfied that Plaintiff’s ADA claim, as set forth in the Complaint, provides
sufficient factual allegations to comport with these standards.
Accordingly, for the reasons just discussed, Plaintiff’s Title VII and ADA claims will be
dismissed without prejudice.
B. Plaintiff Fails to State a Claim Under Section 1983
Plaintiff asserts that the City is liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983—substantially based upon his
Title VII and ADA allegations—for violations of Plaintiff’s constitutional rights under the Thirteenth
and Fourteenth Amendments. Specifically, Plaintiff claims that the City “deprived Plaintiff of equal
protection of the law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United
States and caused Plaintiff to suffer the incidents of slavery in violation of the Thirteenth
Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.” Compl. ¶ 31.
In the seminal case Monell v. Dept. of Soc. Servs. of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 98
S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978), the Supreme Court held that “a local government may not be
sued under § 1983 for an injury inflicted solely by its employees or agents. Instead, it is when
execution of a government’s policy or custom, whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose
edicts or acts may fairly be said to represent official policy, inflicts the injury that the government
as an entity is responsible under § 1983.” Id. at 694, 98 S.Ct. 2018 (emphasis added). A “municipal
policy” is “an official policy, a deliberate choice of a guiding principle or procedure made by the
municipal official who has final authority regarding such matters.” Mettler v. Whitledge, 165 F.3d
197, 1204 (8th Cir. 1999). Alternatively, a “municipal custom” may be demonstrated by: (1) the
existence of a continuing, widespread, persistent pattern of unconstitutional misconduct by the
governmental entity’s employees; (2) deliberate indifference to or tacit authorization of such conduct
by the governmental entity’s policymaking officials after notice to the officials of that misconduct;
and (3) that the plaintiff was injured by acts pursuant to the governmental entity’s custom, i.e., that
the custom was the moving force behind the constitutional violation. See id.
The allegations found in Plaintiff’s Complaint speak to isolated actions by individual actors.
None of the allegations points to a City policy or custom that injured Plaintiff. As a result, Plaintiff’s
Section 1983 claim against the City will be dismissed without prejudice.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, pursuant to the above, that Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 21) is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff shall have until no later than Wednesday,
March 13, 2013 to file an amended complaint, in accordance with the foregoing.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated this 5th day of March, 2013.
/s/Jean C. Hamilton
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?