Stringfellow v. Cayabyab
ORDER granting 13 Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim; denying as futile 17 Motion to Amend/Correct; dismissing as moot 24 Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Chief Judge James C. Dever III on 10/13/2016. (Briggeman, N.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
On March 10, 2016, Shilika Stringfellow ("Stringfellow" or "plaintiff') filed a pro se
complaint under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e--2000e-17 for race
discrimination and retaliation against her co-worker John Cayabyab ("Cayabyab" or "defendant").
See [D.E. 1]. Stringfellow also cited 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See id. On April 25, 2016, Cayabyab
moved to dismiss Stringfellow's pro se complaint and filed a memorandum in support. See [D.E.
13, 14]; Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). On May 19, 2016, Stringfellow moved to amend her complaint
or to voluntary dismiss it without prejudice. See [D.E. 17]. On June 13, 2013, Cayabyab responded
in opposition to Stringfellow's motion to amend and argued that the proposed amendment was futile.
See [D.E. 19]. As explained below, the court grants Cayabyab's motion to dismiss, and denies as
futile Stringfellow's motion to amend.
In analyzing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court must determine whether the
complaint is legally and factually sufficient. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009);
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007); Coleman v. Md. Court of Aweals, 626
F.3d 187, 190 (4th Cir. 2010), aff'd, 132 S. Ct. 1327 (2012); Giarratano v. Johnso!1, 521 F.3d 298,
302 (4thCir. 2008); Goodman v. Praxair. Inc., 494 F.3d458, 464 (4th Cir. 2007) (en bane). A court
need not accept a complaint's "legal conclusions, elements of a cause of action, and bare assertions
devoid of further factual enhancement." Nemet Chevrolet. Ltd. v. Consumeraffairs.com. Inc., 591
F.3d 250,255 (4th Cir. 2009); see Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79. Similarly, a court "need not accept as
true unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments." Giarratano, 521 F.3d at 302
(quotation omitted); see Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79.
When Stringfellow filed her complaint, she was proceeding pro se. The standard used to
evaluate the sufficiency of a pleading is flexible, "and 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) (per curiam) (quotation omitted). Erickson, however,
does not ''undermine [the] requirement that a pleading contain 'more than labels and conclusions."'
Giarratano, 521 F.3d at 304 n.5 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007));
see Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677-83; Coleman, 626 F.3d at 190; Nemet Chevrolet. Ltd., 591 F.3d at
255-56; Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009).
The court has reviewed the pro se complaint under the governing standard. The court
dismisses Stringfellow's claims under Title VII against Cayabyab because Crayabyab, acting as a
supervisor, cannot be "liable in [his] individual capacit[y] for Title VII violations." Lissau v. S.
Food Serv .• Inc., 159 F.3d 177, 180-81 (4th Cir. 1998). Likewise, because Stringfellow does not
plausibly allege that Cayabyab is a state actor, any claim against him under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 fails.
See,~' Filarsky v. Deli~ 132 S. Ct. 1657, 1661-62 (2012); West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42,48-51
(1988); Philips v. Pitt Cty. Mem~ Hosp., 572 F.3d 176, 180-85 (4th Cir. 2009).
Stringfellow's proposed amended complaint does not cure these fundamental defects, the court
denies as futile Stringfellow's motion for leave to amend to clarify her Title VII or section 1983
claim against Cayabyab.
Johnson v. Oroweat Foods Co., 785 F.2d 503, 509 (4th Cir.
1986). As for Stringfellow's proposed state-law tort claims against Cayabyab ofassault, battery, and
negligent intentional infliction of emotional distress, the proposed amended complaint states that
Stringfellow and Cayabyab are citizens ofNorth Carolina. See [D.E. 17] ~~ 1-2. Thus, the court
does not have jurisdiction over these claims based on diversity jurisdiction or federal question
jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332. Accordingly, Stringfellow cannot pursue those tort
claims against Cayabyab in federal court, but may pursue them in North Carolina state court. Cf.
28 u.s.c. § 1367(c).
In sum, defendant's motion to dismiss [D.E. 13] is GRANTED, and plaintiff's motion to
amend [D.E. 17] is DENIED as futile. Plaintiff's Title VII claim against defendant is DISMISSED
with prejudice. Plaintiff may pursue her state-law tort claims against defendant in North Carolina
state court. Defendant's motion for summary judgment [D.E. 24] is DISMISSED as moot. The
clerk shall close the case.
SO ORDERED. This Jl_ day of October 2016.
Chief United States District Judge
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