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Mays v. Board of Commissioners Port of New Orleans

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 6, 2015

KIM L. MAYS,
v.
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS PORT OF NEW ORLEANS, et al., Section:

ORDER

NANNETTE JOLIVETTE BROWN, District Judge.

Before the Court are two motions: (1) Defendants Board of Commissioners, Port of New Orleans' (the "Port") and Ryan Bylsma's ("Bylsma") (collectively, "Port Defendants") "Rule 12(b)(6) Partial Motion to Dismiss;"[1] and (2) Defendant Armand Rodriguez's ("Rodriguez") "Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim."[2] Having considered the motions, the memoranda in support and in opposition, the original and amended complaints, and the applicable law, the Court will grant both motions.

I. Background

A. Factual Background

According to the original complaint in this matter, Plaintiff Kim Mays is an African-American female and veteran of the United States Army who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD").[3] She filed this lawsuit against her employer, the Port, as well as against two Port employees: Ryan Bylsma ("Bylsma") and Armand Rodriguez ("Rodriguez") (collectively, "Defendants"). She does not state in her original or amended complaints whether she names Bylsma and Rodriguez in their individual and/or official capacities.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated her rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยงยงยง 1981, 1983, and 1985; Title VII; the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"); the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"); and Louisiana state discrimination statutes. She additionally brings causes of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED") and for conspiracy.

Specifically, Plaintiff alleges in her original complaint that in July 2011, an "inappropriate sexually oriented remark" was made to her by Rodriguez. She states that she reported the incident to her immediate supervisor, but claims that "the only actions taken by the Port's management was [sic] to counsel Mr. Rodriguez and request that he apologize."[4] Plaintiff next asserts that on November 23, 2013, Rodriguez sent her "an inappropriate e-mail that was sexual in nature, " which she reported to Bylsma, who was her supervisor at the time, as well as other individuals at the Port.[5] According to the complaint, "[t]he Port failed to remove Mr. Rodriguez from proximity to Ms. Mays in the workplace and failed to take other immediate and appropriate corrective action because Mr. Rodriguez is Caucasian and Ms. Mays is African-American."[6]

Plaintiff contends that she sought medical treatment on December 4, 2013 for PTSD exacerbated by a hostile work environment. According to the original complaint, she was released to return to work on December 23, 2013, and her physician "requested that the Port provide Ms. Mays with a reasonable accommodation by allowing Ms. Mays to work from home or removing her harasser [sic] from the workplace."[7] Plaintiff alleges that the Port failed to provide reasonable accommodations, and also failed to designate her leave as FMLA leave.[8]

Plaintiff additionally alleges in her original complaint that she filed a charge with the EEOC on December 4, 2013. She alleges that, in retaliation for filing that charge, the Port issued a "predeprivation notice recommendation for a non-disciplinary removal, " removed her name plate from her office door, packed her personal items from her office, removed her name from the organizational chart, and conspired to place her in a shared office.[9] She asserts that the predeprivation notice was rescinded on January 16, 2014.[10]

B. Procedural Background

Plaintiff filed the original complaint in this matter on May 2, 2014.[11] On June 17, 2014, the Port Defendants filed a "Rule 12(b)(6) Partial Motion to Dismiss."[12] In a March 18, 2015 Order, the Court: (1) dismissed Plaintiff's Title VII and ADA claims against Bylsma in his individual and official capacities; (2) dismissed Plaintiff's state law discrimination claims against Bylsma; (3) granted Plaintiff leave to amend her complaint to allege Title VII and ADA claims against the Port; (4) granted the Plaintiff leave to amend her complaint to sufficiently allege her intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED") claims against the Port and Bylsma; (5) granted Plaintiff leave to amend to sufficiently allege her conspiracy claim under sections 1981 and 1985 against the Port and Bylsma; (6) granted Plaintiff leave to amend to sufficiently allege her section 1983 claim against the Port and Bylsma; (7) dismissed Plaintiff's request for punitive damages under the ADA, section 1981, Title VII, section 1983, and section 1985 against the Port; (8) dismissed Plaintiff's claim for punitive damages against Bylsma under Title VII and the ADA; and (9) dismissed Plaintiff's claim for punitive damages under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") and Louisiana state law against the Port and Bylsma.[13] In its Order, the Court granted Plaintiff ten days to amend her complaint and instructed that, if she chose to do so, she must "specifically allege the capacity in which she is suing both Bylsma and Rodriguez."[14] The Court stated that if the Plaintiff failed to amend or failed "to provide sufficient factual support for each element of each allegation, then the Court will dismiss with prejudice the foregoing claims."[15]

On March 27, 2015, Plaintiff filed her first amended complaint, which adopts the allegations of the original complaint, added seven numbered paragraphs, repeated the prayer for relief, and attached EEOC documentation.[16] The additional paragraphs state the history of Plaintiff's EEOC charges and the status of her Right to Sue Notices.[17] The first amended complaint does not allege any additional facts, or address any of the pleading deficiencies identified by the Court in its March 18, 2015 Order.

The first amended complaint also attaches two separate Louisiana Commission on Human Rights Charges of Discrimination, [18] an EEOC Dismissal and Notice of Rights, [19] and a December 4, 2013 EEOC intake questionnaire with a two-page description of Plaintiff's claims.[20] In the latter document, Plaintiff states that in July 2011, Rodriguez "asked if I needed any help (referring to the bathroom)."[21] The Court understands this comment to be the July 2011 "inappropriate sexually oriented remark" that Plaintiff refers to in her original complaint. The document additionally refers to an incident that occurred on November 25, 2013, although Plaintiff does not provide any explanation or description of that incident or the parties involved.[22] She states that she reported the incident to her immediate supervisors and, on December 3, 2013, she "immediately became enraged and crying [sic] uncontrollably" when she saw Rodriguez's vehicle in the parking lot.[23] Plaintiff alleges that she received a call of support from Bylsma, who instructed her to speak with Human Resources.[24] According to the document, Plaintiff declined to do so because Gwen Hager in the Human Resources Department "has issues with racial preference, " failed to introduce herself or shake Plaintiff's hand on prior occasions, and "was not warm and came across quite snobbish."[25] Plaintiff states that she did not receive "empathy, sympathy, [or] emotional support" from the two white females in her direct chain of command, and that they failed to "check on [her] emotional state."[26] Also, Plaintiff alleges that Rodriguez had difficulty taking directives from an African American man and that she was informed that he would be permitted to work until his retirement in January 2014.[27]

Plaintiff filed her second amended complaint on March 27, 2015, the same day that she filed her first amended complaint. Her second amended complaint, which adopts the allegations of the original and first amended complaints, adds a statement that the EEOC issued a "Right to Sue letter" on March 25, 2015, attaches that EEOC notice, and repeats the prayer for relief.[28] The second amended complaint, again, does not address any of the pleading deficiencies identified by the Court in its March 18, 2015 Order.

On April 2, 2015, the Court granted the Plaintiff leave to file her third amended complaint, which adopts the allegations set forth in the previous complaints, adds a statement that the EEOC issued another Right to Sue letter on March 26, 2015, attaches that letter, and repeats the prayer for relief.[29] As with her previous complaints, Plaintiff still does not address any of the pleading deficiencies identified by the Court in its March 18, 2015 Order.

II. Legal Standard on a Motion to Dismiss

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides that an action may be dismissed "for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted."[30] "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'"[31] "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level."[32] A claim is facially plausible when the plaintiff has pleaded facts that allow the court to "draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."[33]

On a motion to dismiss, asserted claims are liberally construed in favor of the claimant, and all facts pleaded are taken as true.[34] However, although required to accept all "well-pleaded facts" as true, a court is not required to accept legal conclusions as true.[35] "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations."[36] Similarly, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements" will not suffice.[37]The complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, but it must offer more than mere labels, legal conclusions, or formulaic recitations of the elements of a cause of action.[38] That is, the complaint must offer more than an "unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation."[39] From the face of the complaint, there must be enough factual matter to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence as to each element of ...


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