Russell v. Bellefontaine Habilitation Center et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER...plaintiff fails to support his claim with any facts that would allow this Court to draw the reasonable inference that the respondent is liable for the misconduct alleged. See Cole, 599 F.3d at 861. In sum, the plaintiffs claim fails the United States Supreme Courts facial plausibility test, and his complaint will be dismissed. Signed by District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr on 12/1/14. (MRS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
CENTER, et al.,
No. 4:14cv894 SNLJ
MEMORANDUM and ORDER
Plaintiff Jerry Russell filed this discrimination lawsuit against defendants
Bellefontaine Habilitation Center (“Bellefontaine”), Rebecca Post, Marcy Hargis, and
Laura Wayer under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Defendants have moved to dismiss (#4, #14). Plaintiff has not
responded, and the time for doing so has passed.
Plaintiff filed his pro se employment discrimination case on May 9, 2014. He
alleges that he was denied basic reasonable accommodations and due process and that he
suffered lost salary of $50,000. He also states that the defendants failed to promote him,
failed to accommodate his disability, the terms and conditions of his employment were
different from those of similar employees, and that he suffered retaliation and
harassment. He also states that his salary was reduced in retaliation for his harassment
complaint. He believes he was discriminated against on the basis of his race, national
origin, color, gender, and disability. He identifies Bellefontaine, Rebecca Post
(superintendent), Marcy Hargis (assistant superintendent), and Laura Wayer (fiscal
officer) as defendants. Plaintiff used the Court’s Employment Discrimination Complaint
form for his complaint, and the narrative section of the complaint, he states only that
The aforementioned persons are Rebecca Post superintendent who is
allowed to falsify statements, harass, and discriminate with the assistance of
counsel Teresa Hess, and Laura Wayer, fiscal officer.
(#1 at p. 5.) No other details regarding plaintiff’s experience (or even plaintiff’s
Defendants have moved to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). The purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is
to test the legal sufficiency of a complaint so as to eliminate those actions “which are
fatally flawed in their legal premises and designed to fail, thereby sparing litigants the
burden of unnecessary pretrial and trial activity.” Young v. City of St. Charles, 244 F.3d
623, 627 (8th Cir. 2001) (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326-27 (1989)).
Although a complaint challenged by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion does not need detailed
factual allegations, a petitioner must still provide the grounds for relief, and neither
“labels and conclusions” nor “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action”
will suffice. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations
omitted). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a claim must be facially plausible, meaning
that the ‘factual content . . . allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
respondent is liable for the misconduct alleged.’” Cole v. Homier Dist. Co., Inc., 599 F.3d
856, 861 (8th Cir. 2010) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). The Court
must “accept the allegations contained in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of the nonmoving party.” Id. (quoting Coons v. Mineta, 410 F.3d
1036, 1039 (8th Cir. 2005)). With these principles in mind, the Court turns to the
Bellefontaine asserts that it is not an entity that is subject to suit. A local
governmental entity, such as a department or subdivision, “which lacks the capacity to be
sued under the applicable state law may not be sued in federal court under the provisions
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17.” Catlett v. Jefferson Cnty., 299 F. Supp. 2d 967,
968-69 (E.D. Mo. 2004). Bellefontaine is a facility administered by the Division of
Mental Retardation and Developmental Disability, a division of the Department of
Mental Health. § 630.003.5 RSMo. Plaintiff has previously attempted to sue
Bellefontaine, and in that case it was explained that Bellefontaine “is not a suable entity,
and is immune from suit as a facility operated by the State under the auspices of the
Missouri Department of Mental Health, and that it is not technically Plaintiff's
employer.” Russell v. Bellefontaine Habilitation Ctr., No. 4:12CV01849 AGF, 2013 WL
3092293, at *2 (E.D. Mo. June 18, 2013). In that case filed in 2012, plaintiff was
afforded leave to substitute the appropriate entity as a defendant. However, plaintiff’s
claims under Title VII and the ADA fail as a matter of law, and the complaint will be
To state a claim under the ADA, a plaintiff must show: 1) he is a person with a
disability as defined by statute; 2) he is otherwise qualified for the benefit in question;
and 3) he was excluded from the benefit due to discrimination based upon disability.
Randolph v. Rodgers, 170 F.3d 850, 858 (8th Cir. 1999). Plaintiff has provided no details
to support his claim. He states flatly that the defendants denied him basic
accommodations with no other information --- plaintiff does not explain what his
disability is, how he was qualified for the work he did, or what accommodation should
have been provided. “Threadbare recitals” of the elements supported by mere conclusory
statements do not suffice to support a claim under Iqbal. 556 U.S. at 678. Here, however,
plaintiff has not even recited the elements. Therefore, a claim under the ADA cannot be
supported by this complaint.
The same is true for plaintiff’s claim under Title VII. A “Title VII plaintiff must
show: (1) that he is a member of a protected class, (2) that he was meeting the employer's
legitimate job expectations, (3) that he suffered an adverse employment action, and (4)
that similarly situated employees outside the protected class were treated differently.”
Tolen v. Ashcroft, 377 F.3d 879, 882 (8th Cir. 2004). Plaintiff has not sued any defendant
capable of being sued under the statute. As stated above, Bellefontaine is incapable of
being sued, and only “employers” may be held liable for discrimination under Title VII.
Grissom v. Waterloo Industries, Inc., 902 F. Supp. 867, 869 (E.D. Ark. 1995). Plaintiff’s
complaint does not show that any of the individual defendants can be held liable as
“employers.”1 Indeed, plaintiff does not even mention by name either defendants Hargis
or Wayer. To the extent any of the individuals could be considered employers under the
statute, plaintiff’s allegations do not suffice to state a claim under Title VII. Plaintiff
generically accuses the defendants of harassment and discrimination and falsifying
documents, but plaintiff fails to support his claim with any facts that would allow this
Court “to draw the reasonable inference that the respondent is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” See Cole, 599 F.3d at 861. In sum, the plaintiff’s claim fails the United States
Supreme Court’s “facial plausibility” test, and his complaint will be dismissed.
Dated this 1st
day of December, 2014.
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Under Title VII, an “employer” is defined as “a person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has fifteen
or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding
calendar year, and any agent of such a person.” 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e(b).
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