United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
CARL J. BARBIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT
the Court is a Motion to Dismiss (Rec. Doc.
18) filed by Defendant, Swan River, LLC
(“Defendant”) and an opposition thereto (Rec.
Doc. 19) filed by Plaintiff, Deandra Pittman
(“Plaintiff”). Having considered the motion and
legal memoranda, the record, and the applicable law, the
Court finds that the motion should be
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
litigation derives from Plaintiff's allegation that
Defendant lessor engaged in unlawful discrimination resulting
in the termination of Plaintiff's lease. Defendant
operates yoga facilities at various locations in New Orleans.
Defendant leased to Plaintiff space at its 2940 Canal Street
studio for the operation of a massage business called the
Peppermint Room. Defendant alleges that the lease terminated
according to its terms. Plaintiff, however, asserts that she
was forced to vacate the leased premises after Defendant
informed her that the lease would not be renewed unless she
fired her African American male employee.
originally filed this lawsuit against Defendant in the First
City Court for the City of New Orleans. Defendant timely
removed the action to federal court. Defendant subsequently
filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). (Rec.
Doc. 6). Determining that the defect in Plaintiff's
complaint could be cured, this Court ordered Plaintiff to
file an amended complaint in lieu of dismissal. (Rec. Doc.
15). This Court also directed Plaintiff to state, with
specificity, the federal causes of action she wishes to
pursue. (Rec. Doc. 15). Thereafter, Plaintiff
filed an amended complaint into the record. (Rec. Doc. 17).
Defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6), which Plaintiff opposes.
movant asserts that the action must be dismissed because
Plaintiff's amended complaint fails to set forth a cause
of action upon which relief may be granted and is otherwise
legally insufficient because it fails to set forth any facts
upon which the allegations asserted could be true. (Rec. Doc.
18 at 1). Defendant first argues that dismissal is
appropriate because Plaintiff's amended complaint fails
to cure the defect in the original pleading in that it does
not state any new facts that would support Defendant's
liability for Plaintiff's claims. (Rec. Doc. 18-2 at 2).
Specifically, Defendant alleges that the paragraphs in the
amended complaint asserting that “[t]he defendant
intentionally refused to renew a lease agreement with
[Plaintiff] because [Plaintiff] employed an [A]frican
[A]merican male” and that “Defendant never
previously objected to [Plaintiff] hiring additional
employees who were of other races and genders” do not
constitute material facts. (See Rec. Doc. 18-2 at
2). Defendant next argues that Plaintiff's “bare
and conclusory allegations … do[ ] not contain enough
factual detail upon which to establish more than a sheer
possibility that the Plaintiff can prevail in this
action.” (Rec. Doc. 18-2 at 3). Accordingly, Defendant
asserts that the action should be dismissed given that the
amended complaint fails to raise Plaintiff's right to
relief above the speculative level. (Rec. Doc. 18-2 at 4).
opposition, Plaintiff argues that dismissal is improper
because the amended complaint cures the deficiencies in
Plaintiff's original pleading. (Rec. Doc. 19 at 2).
Plaintiff points specifically to paragraphs six and seven of
the original pleading, which assert that Defendant advised
Plaintiff that her African American male employee would not
be permitted to freely enter and exit the premises, renewal
of the lease was contingent upon Plaintiff's dismissal of
her African American male employee, and the African American
male employee had not caused any problems for Defendant or
its customers. (See Rec. Doc. 7-1). Plaintiff also
argues that the inclusion of paragraph two in the amended
complaint constitutes compliance with this Court's
directive in its August 10, 2018 Order to state with
specificity the federal causes of action she wishes to
pursue. (Rec. Doc. 19 at 2). Specifically, Plaintiff's
amended complaint asserts that “[i]n addition to the
state court claims asserted in the original petition,
plaintiff asserts claim[s] against the defendant under 42 USC
1981, the 14thAmendment to the United States
Constitution and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964.” (Rec. Doc. 19 at 2).
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The complaint must “give the
defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds
upon which it rests.” Dura Pharm., Inc. v.
Broudo, 544 U.S. 336, 346 (2005). The allegations
“must be simple, concise, and direct.”
Rule 12(b)(6), a claim may be dismissed when a plaintiff
fails to allege any set of facts in support of his claim
which would entitle him to relief.” Taylor v. Books
A Million, Inc., 296 F.3d 376, 378 (5th Cir. 2002)
(citing McConathy v. Dr. Pepper/Seven Up Corp., 131
F.3d 558, 561 (5th Cir. 1998)). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must plead enough facts to
“state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible when the
plaintiff pleads facts that allow the court to “draw
the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. A court must accept
all well-pleaded facts as true and must draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Lormand v. U.S.
Unwired, Inc., 565 F.3d 228, 232 (5th Cir.
2009); Baker v. Putnal, 75 F.3d 190, 196 (5th Cir.
1996). However, the court is not bound to accept as true
legal conclusions couched as factual allegations.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “[C]onclusory
allegations or legal conclusions masquerading as factual
conclusions will not suffice to prevent a motion to
dismiss.” Taylor, 296 F.3d at 378.
amended complaint asserts federal causes of action pursuant
to the Fourteenth Amendment,  42 U.S.C. § 1981, and Title
VII. Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating
against employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex,
or national origin. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2. An
“employer” is “a person engaged in an
industry affecting commerce who has fifteen or more employees
for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks
in the current or preceding calendar year….” 42
U.S.C. § 2000e. The term “employee” refers
to an individual employed by an employer, subject to certain
exceptions. Id. The plain language of Title VII
makes clear that it does not provide Plaintiff with grounds
for relief against Defendant in this case because Title VII
provides a cause of action only against employers.
Labranche v. Dep't of Def., No. 15-2280, 2016 WL
614682, at *3 (E.D. La. Feb. 16, 2016); 42 U.S.C.
§§ 2000e-2, 2000e-16. Here, Plaintiff ...