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Mayfield v. Desoto Parish Police Jury

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

February 5, 2017




          Elizabeth Erny Foote United States District Judge

         Before the Court is Defendant Gary Evans' Motion To Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint. Record Document 22, Plaintiff filed this suit against the Desoto Parish Police Jury ("DPPJ"), Police Jury President Reggie Roe ("Roe"), Police Jury Administrator Steve Brown ("Brown"), and District Attorney Evans ("Evans"), alleging various employment-related claims on the basis of discriminatory and retaliatory events. Record Document 19. Defendant Evans moves to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against him under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim.

         For the reasons discussed below, the Motion To Dismiss [Record Document 22] is GRANTED. Plaintiff's civil conspiracy and § 1981 retaliation claims against Evans are dismissed without prejudice; her claims against Evans under Title VII for hostile work environment, retaliation and constructive discharge are dismissed with prejudice.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Mary Mayfield, who is a white woman, worked for the DPPJ as the Executive Director of the Office of Community Services. Record Document 19, p. 5. Plaintiff alleges that, at work, Roe and Brown tried to show Plaintiff pictures of naked women and commented on those women to Plaintiff. Id. p. 6. Plaintiff filed a human resources complaint about the incident. Id., p. 7. Nevertheless, Roe and Brown allegedly continued their harassment. Id. p. 8. A few months later, Evans, whom Plaintiff alleges is friends with Roe, called her into his office and "went on a tirade, " yelling about the programs she administered. Id., p. 11. She says he got offensive, saying that "those mother fucking blacks...get all the free shit already" and that the DPPJ would not fund more programs like hers. Id. The specifics of what happened next are unclear. Plaintiff apparently learned that her subordinates were told by Brown that she would be taking time off, and then the DPPJ asked Plaintiff to return her work cell phone and the keys to her office, and the DPPJ announced the appointment of an "Interim" Executive Director. Id. p. 15. Plaintiff eventually resigned. Id. p. 17.

         In Plaintiff's original complaint she set out these events along with a lengthy list of federal statutes, state statutes, federal constitutional provisions and state constitutional provisions she alleged had been violated by the Defendants' conduct. Record Document 1. Plaintiff did not, however, state which claims were alleged against which Defendants and under which provisions of law. Id. The Court granted Plaintiff leave to amend her complaint to sort out her claims. Record Document 16. Plaintiff's subsequently filed First Amended Complaint identifies claims against each Defendant, although Plaintiff still does not always clearly state under which statute or constitutional provision each claim is brought. Record Document 19.

         II. Discussion

         A. Standard of Review

         In order to survive a motion to dismiss brought under Rule 12(b)(6), a plaintiff must "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal. 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at 663. 'Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. at 678. The court must accept as true all of the factual allegations in the complaint in determining whether plaintiff has stated a plausible claim. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litigation, 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2009). However, a court is "not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986).

         B. Civil Conspiracy

         Plaintiff's first claim against Evans is civil conspiracy. This claim is apparently brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1985 and an unspecified "State Law." Record Document 19, p. 16. Section 1985 has three subsections. Plaintiff does not identify the subsection under which her claim is brought. Subsection (1) prohibits conspiracy to prevent an official from performing her duty, subsection (2) prohibits conspiracy to obstruct justice or intimidate a party, witness, or juror, and subsection (3) prohibits conspiracy to deprive a person of certain civil rights. Suttles v. United States Post Office, 927 F.Supp. 990, 1000 (S.D. Tex. 1996). Plaintiff's claim appears to be brought under subsection (3). Record Document 19, p. 23 ("Evans...deprive[d] plaintiff of her constitutionally protected civil rights.").

         Evans does not specifically address the civil conspiracy, instead arguing that as to the civil conspiracy, hostile environment, and retaliation claims, he cannot be liable because he was not Plaintiff's employer within the meaning of Title VII. Record Document 22-1, p. 9. However, § 1985 has no employment relationship requirement, and so this argument is inapposite.

         In order to state a claim for a conspiracy under § 1985(3), a plaintiff must allege "(1) a conspiracy involving two or more persons, (2) for the purpose of depriving, directly or indirectly, a person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws; and (3) an act in furtherance of the conspiracy; (4) which causes injury to a person or property, or a deprivation of any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States, " and (5) that the conspiracy was motivated by some class-based animus. Hilliard v, Ferguson, 30 F.3d 649, 652-53 (5th Cir. 1994). Section 1985 does not create rights, it is merely a mechanism for enforcing federal rights defined elsewhere. Great Am. Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n v. Novotny, 442 U.S. 366, 376 (1979). Plaintiff must identify what defined federal right was allegedly violated. She does not do so, instead asserting only that the Defendants acted to "deprive plaintiff of her constitutionally protected civil rights." Record Document 19, p. 23. The Constitution protects many civil rights. Plaintiff must identify a particular one. She cannot simply state the elements of civil conspiracy and leave it to the ...

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