Westbrook v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of TN
ORDER adopting DE 8 Report and Recommendations signed by Judge John T. Fowlkes, Jr. on 12/22/2016. (Fowlkes, John)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD
OF TENNESSEE, et al.,
ORDER ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S REPORT AND
Before the Court is Plaintiff Rachel Westbrook’s (“Plaintiff”) Complaint filed September
30, 2016. (ECF No. 1). This case was referred to the United States Magistrate Judge for
management and for all pretrial matters for determination and/or report and recommendation as
appropriate. (Admin. Order 2013-05, April 29, 2013). Plaintiff’s motion to proceed in forma
pauperis was granted on October 3, 2016. (ECF Nos. 2 & 6). On November 16, 2016, the
Magistrate Judge issued his Report and Recommendation that Plaintiff’s Complaint as against
Teresa Sims, Jean Claire Doyle, and Aaron Smith pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) be
dismissed sua sponte. (ECF No. 8). To date, no objections have been filed.
After reviewing the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation and Plaintiff’s
Complaint, the Court hereby ADOPTS the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation.
FINDINGS OF FACT
This Court adopts and incorporates the thorough analysis of the Magistrate Judge’s
summary of the background and proposed findings of facts in this case. See (ECF No. 8).
A. Standard for District Court’s Review of a Report and Recommendation
The standard of review that is applied by the district court depends on the nature of the
matter considered by the magistrate judge. See Baker v. Peterson, 67 Fed. App’x 308, 310 (6th
Cir. 2003) (“A district court normally applies a ‘clearly erroneous or contrary to law’ standard of
review for nondispositive preliminary measures.
A district court must review dispositive
motions under the de novo standard.” (internal citations omitted)). Any party who disagrees with
a magistrate judge’s recommendation may file written objections to the report and
recommendation. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 142 (1985). When a party fails to timely
object to a magistrate judge’s recommended decision, it waives any right to further judicial
review of that decision. Id. at 149 n.7; United States v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947 (6th Cir. 1981).
B. Standard for Motion To Dismiss
When assessing a plaintiff’s claim at the motion-to-dismiss stage, the Sixth Circuit has
stated that the court must “construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and
accept all allegations as true.” Keys v. Humana, Inc., 684 F.3d 605, 608 (6th Cir. 2012). A
complaint need not have specific facts, it need only “give the defendant fair notice of what the . .
. claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Id. (quoting Erikson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93
(2007)). However, the courts have also emphasized that the complaint must raise more than
labels, conclusions, or a “formulaic recitation of a cause of action’s elements.” Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007). The threshold inquiry in determining if the
moving party is entitled to dismissal is whether the plaintiff has “provided the ‘grounds’ of his
entitle[ment] to relief.” Id. at 555.
A complaint can survive a motion to dismiss if it contains “a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A claim has “facial
plausibility” if the plaintiff provides enough factual allegations for the court “to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. As the Iqbal
Court explains, “whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a contextspecific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense.” Id. at 679. If the complaint merely pleads facts that are parallel to the defendant’s
liability, then the complaint “stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of
‘entitlement to relief.’” Id. at 678 (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 557).
“Pro se complaints are held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by
lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). However, pro se litigants “are not
exempt from the requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” Wells v. Brown, 891
F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989); see also Brown v. Matauszak, 415 F. App’x 608, 613 (6th Cir.
2011) (“[A] court cannot create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not spelled out in his pleading.”)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
Plaintiff filed a pro se complaint alleging employment discrimination under Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against her former employer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee
(“Blue Cross”). In addition to Blue Cross, Plaintiff also named three individuals as defendants.
These individuals are Teresa Sims, Westbrook’s supervisor at the time of her termination; Jean
Claire Doyle, a representative from Blue Cross’s human resource department; and Aaron Smith,
who is otherwise unidentified in Plaintiff’s Complaint. The Sixth Circuit has interpreted Title
VII to impose no individual liability on managers or supervisors who do not also qualify as
employers under Title VII. See Wathen v. General Electric Co., 115 F.3d 400, 403-06 (6th Cir.
1997); see also Roof v. Bel Brands USA, Inc., 641 F. App’x 492, 496 (6th Cir. 2016). Therefore,
the Magistrate Judge properly recommends that Plaintiff’s Title VII complaint be dismissed sua
sponte as against Teresa Sims, Jean Claire Doyle, and Aaron Smith pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915
For the reasons set forth above, the Court ADOPTS the Magistrate Judge’s Report and
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Complaint against Teresa Sims, Jean
Claire Doyle, and Aaron Smith is DISMISSED.
IT IS SO ORDERED on this 22nd day of December, 2016.
s/John T. Fowlkes, Jr.
John T. Fowlkes, Jr.
United States District Judge
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