Adams v. Missouri Department of Social Services Family Support Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER. (see order for details) IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Missouri Department of Social Services, Family Support Division's Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 25 is hereby GRANTED. Plaintiff's Complaint [ECF No. 1 ] is DISMISSED with prejudice. Signed by District Judge E. Richard Webber on 07/01/2013. (CBL)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL
SERVICES, FAMILY SUPPORT
Case No. 4:12CV01765 ERW
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Missouri Department of Social
Services, Family Support Division’s (“MDSS”) Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 25].
On May 22, 2012, Ulanda Adams (“Plaintiff”) filed a Charge of Discrimination against
her employer, MDSS, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and the
Missouri Commission on Human Rights (“MCHR”), alleging discrimination based on race and
retaliation [ECF No. 1-1]. In this Charge, Plaintiff, a senior office support assistant, alleged that
she filed a complaint against her supervisor in September 2011, alleging racial discrimination
and harassment, and that she received a poor performance evaluation in March 2012 in retaliation
for filing her complaint. Plaintiff claimed that at the end of February 2012, her supervisor
instructed a Caucasian employee to assign work and give directives to Plaintiff. She stated that,
in the past, the supervisor had treated black employees differently and called them ignorant.
Electronic case filing citations for many of the background facts used herein can be
found in the Court’s March 22, 2013 Order [ECF No. 23].
Plaintiff further claimed that, although her supervisor was aware that she had a disability that
required her “to stay stress free,” he informed her in mid April 2012 that she had used all of her
Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) time. Plaintiff contended her supervisor misinformed her
about her FMLA time to exacerbate her condition, in retaliation for filing her prior complaint.
Thereafter, the MCHR and the U.S. Department of Justice issued Plaintiff Right to Sue
letters, on September 26 and December 3, 2012, respectively. Plaintiff filed her Complaint with
this Court on October 1, 2012. In her pro se Complaint, Plaintiff states that her employment
discrimination lawsuit is based on race under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as
amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq.; and on disability under the Americans with Disabilities
Act of 1990, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq. She asserts that the racial discrimination
occurred in January 2011, and that the disability discrimination occurred in April 2012. Plaintiff
claims the discriminatory conduct included retaliation, harassment, hostile work environment,
and differing terms and conditions of employment. At the time of filing, Plaintiff attached to her
Complaint a 100-page exhibit, primarily consisting of copies of e-mail communications. She
subsequently filed supplemental exhibits (consisting of more than 600 pages of miscellaneous email communications, handwritten documents, journal entries, letters, and memoranda) on
October 23 and 29, November 27, and December 7, 2012.
MDSS filed a Motion for a More Definite Statement on January 3, 2013. In its Motion
for a More Definite Statement, MDSS contended that the allegations in the “Summary of my
Case” portion of Plaintiff’s Complaint far exceeded the scope of the conduct complained of in
the Charge of Discrimination filed with the EEOC and the MCHR. MDSS asserted that the
Plaintiff’s summary contains allegations of conduct occurring years before the incidents
described in the Charge of Discrimination, and complains of types of discrimination not included
in the Charge, including allegations of disability discrimination. MDSS stated that Plaintiff had
filed previous Charges of Discrimination concerning the actions outlined in the “Summary of my
Case” portion of her Complaint and that she was issued prior Right to Sue letters concerning that
conduct. MDSS further stated that the time period to file a lawsuit based on those prior Right to
Sue letters had expired. MDSS asked the Court to order Plaintiff to identify the type of
discrimination she is alleging and the corresponding discriminatory conduct.
As her Response to the Motion for a More Definite Statement, Plaintiff submitted a
rambling letter, acknowledging the previously filed EEOC Complaints, and her receipt of Right
to Sue letters for those prior Complaints, but failing to distinguish the previously reported
conduct from conduct forming the basis for this action. Plaintiff’s letter contained vague and
confusing allegations that apparently concerned a Worker’s Compensation claim and related
work absences occurring between August and October 2012, and it did not identify incidents of
discriminatory conduct based on race.
Plaintiff’s allegations not only greatly exceeded the scope of the Charge of
Discrimination she presented to the EEOC and the MCHR; her narrative was also vague and
confusing, with many irrelevant statements. Additionally, Plaintiff filed as supplements to her
pleading, a plethora of e-mail strings, copies of monthly calendar pages from 2011, and
miscellaneous unidentified documents dating back through 2009, with no explanation of their
relevance or significance. This Court determined that Plaintiff’s Complaint greatly exceeded the
scope of any investigation that could reasonably be expected to grow out of the Charge of
Discrimination she filed with the EEOC and MCHR. It further found that her Complaint
contained numerous irrelevant statements, and concluded that the allegations of her Complaint
were so vague and confusing as to make it impossible for MDSS to prepare a proper defense.
Consequently, the Court granted MDSS’s Motion for a More Definite Statement on March 11,
2013, and ordered Plaintiff to file, within twenty days of its Order, an amended Complaint setting
forth the theory of her case and the allegations corresponding to the conduct and time period that
fell within the scope of the Charges of Discrimination filed with the EEOC and MCHR on May
22, 2012 [ECF No. 23]. The Order further instructed that failure to do would result in dismissal
of the action [ECF No. 23 at 6].
Plaintiff failed to comply with the Court’s Order, and, on April 18, 2013, MDSS filed a
Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 25]. In its Motion to Dismiss, MDSS moves the Court to dismiss
with prejudice Plaintiff’s Complaint due to her failure to file an amended Complaint in
compliance with the March 11, 2013 Order.
Upon review of record, the Court found that Plaintiff failed to file a Response to the
pending Motion to Dismiss, and, on May 21, 2013, the Court ordered Plaintiff to show cause, no
later than June 14, 2013, why MDSS’s Motion to Dismiss should not be granted [ECF No. 26].
Plaintiff filed a Response on June 6, but her pleading fails to provide any reason for her failure to
file a responsive pleading to MDSS’s Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 27]. Instead, Plaintiff raises
additional allegations; states that she has been on medical or disability leave since March 24,
2013, has applied for long-term disability benefits, and is awaiting disability approval. Plaintiff
So whatever decision is made I will be satisfied. I do not plan on returning to
work at FSD – They put me throug[h] a lot of stress and drama, they harassed me
daily, the[y] were always in retaliation made against me, so when I left they were
all happy because they won[.] I left my job, and that is what they wanted me to do,
putting me under Linda Vandergriff, a hateful Tyrant, and Ms. Francis was her
puppet on a string[.]
[ECF No. 27 at 5-6]. Plaintiff states at one point, “I apologize for wasting you all’s time sending
in paperwork that was ‘a bunch of mumbling words’” [ECF No. 27 at 6]. Plaintiff concludes:
So I know this will be good news to them, that once again the[y] WON making
me leave my job but they covered it up, they (management at Page) really wish I
did not get any help but Thank God for Ms. Tremain[.] I am at peace where I am,
and I am able to take my meds and fu[n]ction a little better than I was functioning
work[ing] at that job under those mean people.
[ECF No. 27 at 7].
Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a district court may
dismiss a case for failure to prosecute a claim or comply with a court order. Fed. R. Civ. P.
41(b). Unless stated otherwise, such a dismissal operates as an adjudication on the merits. Id.
Because dismissal with prejudice is an extreme sanction, it should be employed only in cases of
willful disobedience of a court order or persistent failure to prosecute a complaint. Rodgers v.
Curators of the Univ. of Mo., 135 F.3d 1216, 1219 (8th Cir. 1998). However, the court need not
find that the party acted in bad faith, only that he or she acted intentionally as opposed to
accidentally or involuntarily. Id. When exercising its discretionary power to dismiss, the court
considers “whether in the particular circumstances of the case the needs of the court in advancing
a crowded docket and preserving respect for the integrity of its internal procedures are sufficient
to justify the harsh consequences of forever denying a litigant his day in court.” Id.
The Court is mindful of the liberal pleading practices to be observed for pro se litigants.
However, Plaintiff has committed a series of intentional acts that have made it impossible for
MDSS to prepare a defense, delayed the progress of the litigation, and resulted in a failure to
comply with the Court’s procedures and orders on two occasions. The Court provided Plaintiff
the opportunity to file an amended Complaint and expressly warned her that failure to do so
would result in dismissal. When she failed to file an amended pleading, MDSS filed a Motion to
Dismiss, which Plaintiff ignored. Although the Court ordered Plaintiff to explain why she failed
to respond, she provided no reason. Furthermore, Plaintiff’s actions, and the language of her
Response suggest that she has abandoned her prosecution, and could be interpreted as a voluntary
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Missouri Department of Social Services,
Family Support Division’s Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 25] is hereby GRANTED. Plaintiff’s
Complaint [ECF No. 1] is DISMISSED with prejudice.
day of July, 2013.
E. RICHARD WEBBER
SENIOR 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?