Flanigan v. Fayetteville State University, et al
ORDER adopting 19 Memorandum and Recommendation and granting 12 Motion to Dismiss - Signed by District Judge Louise Wood Flanagan on 12/11/2014. (Baker, C.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
PATRICIA GRIFFIETH FLANIGAN,
JINONG SUN and FAYETTEVILLE
This matter is before the court on defendants’ motion to dismiss, filed pursuant to Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), 12(b)(2), 12(b)(5) and 12(b)(6) (DE 12). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b), United States Magistrate Judge Kimberly
A. Swank entered a memorandum and recommendation (“M&R”), (DE 19), wherein it is
recommended that defendants’ motion be granted under Rule 12(b)(6). Plaintiff timely filed
objections to the M&R, and the deadline for defendants’ response has expired. In this posture, the
matter is ripe for ruling. For the reasons stated below, the court adopts the recommendation of the
magistrate judge and grants defendants’ motion to dismiss.
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
Plaintiff filed this action on February 21, 2014, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. (“Title VII”). Plaintiff alleges that she has been employed with
defendant Fayetteville State University since 1988, and that defendant Sun acted as her supervisor.
Plaintiff alleges that defendants discriminated against her based on her race because, from 2010 until
the date of filing complaint, she was “subjected to different terms and conditions of employment”
and “singled out from the other members of the Acquisitions Department” by defendants. (Compl.
at 3-4) (DE 1).
On April 11, 2014, defendants filed the instant motion to dismiss. Defendants
argued that the court lacked personal jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(2) because plaintiff did not
validly serve a summons and complaint; that service of process was insufficient under Rule 12(b)(5);
that plaintiff had not alleged sufficient facts to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6); and that the Title
VII claim against defendant Sun should be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) because it was duplicative
of claims against defendant Fayetteville State University. The court referred the motion to the
magistrate judge on May 7, 2014. On October 9, 2014, the magistrate judge entered her M&R
recommending dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6).
Standard of Review
The district court reviews de novo those portions of a magistrate judge’s M&R to which
specific objections are filed. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). Absent a specific and timely filed objection, the
court reviews only for “clear error,” and need not give any explanation for adopting the M&R.
Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005); Camby v. Davis, 718
F.2d 198, 200 (4th Cir.1983). Upon careful review of the record, “the court may accept, reject, or
modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
A court considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim must view the allegations
in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Ibarra v. United States, 120 F.3d 472, 474
(4th Cir.1997). To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must contain “sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’ ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). In
evaluating the factual content necessary to survive a motion to dismiss, the court does not consider
“legal conclusions, elements of a cause of action . . . bare assertions devoid of further factual
enhancement[,] . . . . unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments.” Nemet
Chevrolet, Ltd. v. Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 255 (4th Cir.2009) (quotation marks
and citations omitted). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must keep in mind the
principle that “a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)
(quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)); Noble v. Barnett, 24 F.3d 582, 587 n.6 (4th
Cir.1994). Nevertheless, Erickson does not undermine the requirement that a pleading contain
“more than labels and conclusions.” Giarratano v. Johnson, 521 F.3d 298, 304 n.5 (4th Cir. 2008)
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
The magistrate judge’s recommendation advanced two separate grounds for dismissal
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). First, the magistrate judge found plaintiff’s complaint failed to allege
sufficient facts to support her claims, because plaintiff provides no specific dates or details regarding
the discriminatory behavior. Second, the magistrate judge recommended dismissing the claim
against defendant Sun because, as an individual, defendant Sun was not liable under Title VII.
Plaintiff fails to specifically object to the first ground of the recommendation to dismiss.
Plaintiff’s objections state that she has been unsuccessful in seeking professional assistance
in this case. She also confronts defendants’ argument regarding improper service by alleging that
“another person actually mailed the notifications at the Raleigh Post Office.” (Obj., 1). In addition,
plaintiff appears to object to the magistrate judge’s recommendation that the claim against defendant
Sun be dismissed by alleging that “[t]he issue of the Defendant being the individual and not the
employer was an attempt to implicate both.” (Id.). None of these allegations address the
recommendation that plaintiff’s complaint lacks sufficient specific factual allegations to state a Title
VII claim. Because the court finds no clear error in the magistrate judge’s determination, it will
adopt the recommendation on this ground and grant defendants’ motion to dismiss under Rule
Based on the foregoing, upon de novo review of those portions of the M&R to which
objections were raised, and upon considered review of the remaining portions of the M&R as well
as the record in this case, the court ADOPTS the recommendation of the magistrate judge as set
forth herein. Defendants’ motion to dismiss (DE 12) is GRANTED. The clerk is DIRECTED to
close this case.
SO ORDERED this the 11th day of December, 2014.
LOUISE W. FLANAGAN
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?