Quinlan v. Sensient Technologies Corporation
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER - IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff shall have until April 23, 2015 to file an amended complaint that complies with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. If plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint by this deadline, the Court will grant the defendant's motion to dismiss this action without prejudice and without further notice to plaintiff. Response to Court due by 4/23/2015.. Signed by District Judge Carol E. Jackson on 4/2/15. (KKS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
MICHAEL P. QUINLAN,
No. 4:14-CV-1990 (CEJ)
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on defendant’s motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).
Plaintiff has responded in
opposition, and the issues are fully briefed.
Plaintiff brings this action pro se, asserting claims of harassment and
retaliation in connection with his employment by defendant.
In the complaint,
plaintiff alleges that his supervisor began harassing him in March 2012 after he
reported to the defendant’s human resources department and management that
the supervisor and plaintiff’s ex-girlfriend were “messing around.” A year later, on
March 15, 2013, defendant terminated plaintiff’s employment by letter.
Plaintiff subsequently filed charges of employment discrimination with the
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC) and the
Commission on Human Rights (MCHR). He received his notice of right to sue from
the EEOC on September 29, 2014.
The purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure is to test the legal sufficiency of the complaint.
allegations of a complaint are assumed true and construed in favor of the plaintiff,
“even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable.” Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007) (citing Swierkiewicz v.
Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 508 n.1 (2002)); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319,
327 (1989) (“Rule 12(b)(6) does not countenance . . . dismissals
based on a
judge’s disbelief of a complaint’s factual allegations”); Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S.
232, 236 (1974) (a well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it appears “that a
recovery is very remote and unlikely”). The issue is not whether the plaintiff will
ultimately prevail, but whether the plaintiff is entitled to present evidence in
support of his claim. Id. A viable complaint must include “enough facts to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; see also id.
at 563 (stating the “no set of facts” language in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 4546 (1957), “has earned its retirement.”). “Factual allegations must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. at 555.
When ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court generally may not consider
matters outside the pleadings. Porous Media Corp. v. Pall Corp., 186 F.3d 1077,
1079 (8th Cir. 1999) (citations omitted).
It may, however, consider matters of
public records, materials that do not contradict the complaint, exhibits attached to
the pleadings, and materials necessarily embraced by the complaint. Mills v. City of
Grand Forks, 614 F.3d 495, 498 (8th Cir. 2010). In this case, plaintiff attached his
notice of right to sue from the EEOC and the charge of discrimination he filed with
the MCHR. These documents are materials necessarily embraced by the complaint,
and the Court may consider these in ruling on the motion to dismiss.
In the instant motion, defendant argues that plaintiff’s allegations are
general claims of perceived unfair treatment by his supervisor based solely on
personal disagreements, rather than unlawful conduct. Defendant further asserts
that plaintiff alleges no act of prohibited discrimination, nor any cognizable instance
of retaliation based upon any federally protected activity or complaint.
Plaintiff’s complaint consists of a court-provided “Employment Discrimination
Complaint” form and several typewritten pages. On page 5 of the form, plaintiff
placed an “X” in the space for indicating that he was discriminated against because
of his race.
He also placed an “X” in the space marked “other” and wrote
“harassment from supervisor” and “retaliation.”
The typewritten portion of the
complaint contains a lengthy narrative section and a section that is in questionnaire
format. Question 19 in the questionnaire section asks whether plaintiff believes his
discharge “was, in any way, related to” age, sex, politics, race, religion, complaints
about his employer, or other reason.
Plaintiff placed an “X” next to the space
Attached to the complaint is a copy of the charge of
discrimination plaintiff filed with the EEOC.
The charge reflects that plaintiff
asserted only a claim of retaliation for complaining about being harassed by a
The boxes on the charge form that plaintiff could have marked to
In the charge, plaintiff stated that “the same supervisor had made offensive racial
comments about an African American coworker and no action was taken against him.”
However, it is evident that the charge, when read in its entirety, does not contain any
allegation of unlawful discrimination or retaliation for complaining about unlawful
indicate that his claim of discrimination was based on race, sex, age, or other
grounds were left blank.
The instant complaint does not contain allegations to support a cause of
action for employment discrimination under federal law.
Plaintiff makes no
allegation of discrimination based on race, sex, or other prohibited grounds.
Moreover, he does not contend that he was retaliated against for reporting any
unlawful acts or for engaging in any other protected activity. Instead, the bulk of
the complaint consists of no more than a recitation of rumors that circulated at the
defendant’s offices, the company’s work schedule, speculative opinions regarding
his coworkers and management, lengthy descriptions of interactions with other
employees, details of personal relationships, and criminal allegations.
The Court concludes that the complaint fails to state a claim for which relief
may be granted. However, because the plaintiff is proceeding
pro se, the Court
will not dismiss the complaint at this time but will instead give plaintiff the
opportunity to amend.
Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a complaint
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim” upon which the plaintiff seeks
relief that enables the court to determine whether it has jurisdiction over the claim.
Rule 8(d) further requires that “[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise, and
direct.” Rule 10(b) requires plaintiff to state his claims “in numbered paragraphs,
each limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances . . . . If doing so
would promote clarity, each claim founded on a separate transaction or occurrence
. . . must be stated in a separate count or defense.”
If plaintiff chooses to amend
his complaint, he must comply with these rules. Plaintiff may use the “Employment
Discrimination Complaint” form in amending his complaint, and he should include in
the amended complaint only the facts that are relevant to his claim.
Finally, plaintiff is warned that the amended complaint will replace the
original complaint. The Court will not consider any allegations or claims that are
not contained in the amended complaint.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff shall have until April 23, 2015 to
file an amended complaint that complies with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
If plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint by this deadline, the Court
will grant the defendant’s motion to dismiss this action without prejudice
and without further notice to plaintiff.
CAROL E. JACKSON
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 2nd day of April, 2015.
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