United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS ON MOTION
C. WILKINSON, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
an employment discrimination action brought by plaintiff
Kaleena Catrice-Nichole Arnold against her former employer,
Sonny Perdue, in his capacity as Secretary of the United
States Department of Agriculture ("Perdue"). Arnold
asserts claims of wrongful termination, sex discrimination,
sexual harassment, reprisal discrimination and retaliation,
in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e et seq ("Title VII"). She seeks
compensatory and punitive damages, court costs, a reinstated
benefits package, to be placed in the Career Transition
Assistance Program, and to have her misconduct expunged from
her record. This matter was referred to a United States
Magistrate Judge for all proceedings and entry of judgment in
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) upon written consent
of all parties. Record Doc. Nos. 10.
filed a Rule 12(b)(6) motion for partial dismissal as to only
plaintiff's sex and reprisal discrimination claims.
Record Doc. No. 15. Alternatively, defendant's motion
seeks a more definite statement under Rule 12(e) concerning
these claims. Id. Specifically, the motion seeks
that plaintiff "specify, at least, who she claims
sexually harassed her, the general nature of the alleged
harassment and, if she knows, approximately when each
instance of harassment occurred; and . . . the date and
nature of the prior EEO activity that she claims gave rise to
defendant's discriminatory reprisal." Record Doc.
No. 15 at p. 1. Arnold filed a timely opposition memorandum,
with exhibits that illuminate some of the basis for her
sexual harassment, retaliation and reprisal claims. Record
Doc. No. 16. Having considered the complaint, the record, the
arguments of counsel and applicable law, and for the
following reasons, IT IS ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED
IN PART AND DENIED IN PART as follows.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), as clarified by the Supreme Court,
"a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'" A claim for relief is
plausible on its face "when the plaintiff pleads factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged." A claim for relief is implausible on its face
when "the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to
infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct."
Harold H. Huggins Realty, Inc. v. FNC, Inc., 634
F.3d 787, 796 (5th Cir. 2011) (quoting Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007))).
Supreme Court's decisions in Iqbal and
Twombly . . . did not alter the long-standing
requirement that when evaluating a motion to dismiss under
Rule 12(b)(6), a court must accept[ ] all well-pleaded facts
as true and view[ ] those facts in the light most favorable
to the plaintiff." Id. at 803 n.44 (quotation
omitted); accord Murchison Capital Partners,
L.P. v. Nuance Commc'ns, Inc., 625 Fed.Appx. 617,
618 n.1 (5th Cir. 2015) (citing Wood v. Moss, 134
S.Ct. 2056, 2065 n.5 (2014)).
respect to any well-pleaded allegations 'a court should
assume their veracity and then determine whether they
plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.'"
Jabary v. City of Allen, 547 Fed.Appx. 600, 604 (5th
Cir. 2013) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 664).
"Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that
all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if
doubtful in fact)." Maloney Gaming Mgmt., L.L.C. v.
St. Tammany Parish, 456 Fed.Appx. 336, 340 (5th Cir.
2011) (quotations omitted) (citing Iqbal, 129 S.Ct.
at 1959; Elsensohn v. St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's
Ofc., 530 F.3d 368, 371 (5th Cir. 2008); In re
Katrina Canal Breaches Litigation, 495 F.3d 191, 205
n.10 (5th Cir. 2007)).
filed her complaint pro se. Thus, the court must
“liberally construe briefs of pro se litigants
and apply less stringent standards to parties proceeding
pro se than to parties represented by counsel,
” Smith v. Lonestar Constr., Inc., 452
Fed.Appx. 475, 476 (5th Cir. 2011) (quotation omitted);
Moore v. McDonald, 30 F.3d 616, 620 (5th Cir. 1994).
In addition, a court should not dismiss an action for failure
to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) without giving plaintiff
“at least one chance to amend.” Hernandez v.
Ikon Ofc. Solutions, Inc., 306 Fed.Appx. 180, 182 (5th
Cir. 2009); accord Great Plains Trust Co. v. Morgan
Stanley Dean Witter & Co., 313 F.3d 305, 329 (5th
defendant's alternative request for a more definite
statement, Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e) provides that a more definite
statement of plaintiff's claims may be required if the
complaint “is so vague or ambiguous that the party
cannot reasonably prepare a response. The motion must . . .
point out the defects complained of and the details
desired." As noted above, defendant's motion has set
out the additional details he seeks.
used Administrative Office of the United States Courts
approved Pro Se Form 7 to state her complaint. Record Doc.
No. 1. Arnold checked the box on the form signifying that she
was alleging discrimination on the basis of
"gender/sex," and next to that box she wrote
"men that sexually harass me reprimanded yet still
employed." Id. at p. 5. Her form complaint
vaguely references an "EEOC . . . prior complaint."
Record Doc. No. 1 at p. 7. Her opposition memorandum also
vaguely references her "prior EEOC activity,"
including a 2013 charge that was "settled out of
court" and identified "the first male to sexually
harass her," and a 2015 administrative law judge's
ruling. Record Doc. No. 16 at p. 3.
an approved form was used, "[a] pleading that offers
'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Nevertheless,
plaintiff need not plead all of the specific facts
of a prima facie case of discrimination or harassment to
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Such a rule would
impermissibly "substitute an 'evidentiary
standard' for a 'pleading requirement.'"
Raj v. La. State Univ., 714 F.3d 322, 331 (5th Cir.
2013) (quoting Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S.
506, 512 (2002)).
is correct that Arnold's complaint "did not allege
any facts, direct or circumstantial, that would suggest
[defendant's] actions were based on [her gender] . . . or
that [defendant] treated similarly situated [male] employees
. . . more favorably" than they treated her,
Raj, 714 ...