United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
SHARON HEWITT, ET AL.
3 G ENERGY SERVICES, LLC ET AL.
HORNSBY MAGISTRATE JUDGE
ELIZABETH ERNY FOOTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' First
Amended Complaint filed by Defendants 3G Energy Services, LLC
(“3G”), UBS, LLC d/b/a Ultrabend Solutions, LLC
(“UBS”), Jeremy Woodle (“Woodle”),
Taso Sofikitis (“Sofikitis”), Richard Crawford
(“Crawford”), Anastasios Sofikitis Revocable
Living Trust (“Sofikitis Trust”), the RSC Family
Trust (“RSC”), and Ridgemont Investments, LLC
“Defendants”). [Record Document 31]. For the
reasons given below, the motion is GRANTED IN
PART and DENIED IN PART. The motion
is DENIED as to Plaintiffs' intentional
infliction of emotional distress and false-light invasion of
privacy claims against Woodle, as to intentional infliction
of emotional distress claim against Sofikitis brought by
Plaintiff Sharon Hewitt (“Hewitt”), and as to
Plaintiffs' Title VII, Louisiana Employment
Discrimination Law (“LEDL”), and 42 U.S.C. §
1981a claims against 3G and UBS. The motion is
GRANTED as to all other claims.
case arises out of the alleged sexual harassment of Hewitt
and Rachel Fodale (“Fodale”) (collectively,
“Plaintiffs”). [Record Document 26 at 2-4].
Plaintiffs allege that while employed by 3G and UBS,
they were sexually harassed by their supervisors, Woodle and
Sofikitis. [Id. at 4-5]. They further allege that
Crawford, another supervisor, failed to intervene to stop the
harassment and that Crawford, Woodle, Sofikitis, the
Sofikitis Trust, RSC, and Ridgemont are liable as members of
UBS and 3G. [Id. at 2-3, 5].
alleges that Woodle sexually harassed her by: (1) referring
to her as his “girlfriend” on multiple occasions;
(2) telling other employees that he wanted to begin a sexual
relationship with her; (3) telling Fodale he would send her
husband out of town to provide the opportunity for that
relationship; (4) texting her that she “would get
lucky”; (5) asking her multiple times to go out of town
with him; (6) telling her that he would take care of her and
that she did not need her husband; (7) arriving at her house
uninvited on several occasions while her husband was out of
town; and (8) “inappropriately touch[ing] Fodale in a
sexual manner.” [Id. at 5-6].
to Hewitt, Woodle (1) asked graphic questions about her
sexual activity on multiple occasions; (2) touched her on the
back of her leg and buttock and (on a separate occasion) on
her inner thigh; (3) on multiple occasions hugged her from
behind while touching her breast; (4) on multiple occasions
hugged her from behind and pressed his body against hers; (5)
pulled out the top of her blouse and looked down it; (6)
grabbed her hand and patted his buttocks with it; (7) on
multiple occasions ordered her to sit in his lap or show him
her breasts; and (8) accused her multiple times of having sex
with other male co-workers. [Id. at 6-8]. A number
of these actions occurred in front of Hewitt's
co-workers. [Id.]. Hewitt also alleges that
Sofikitis participated in Woodle's invasive questioning
of her sexual activities. [Id. at 6].
seek damages for Defendants' alleged violations of Title
VII and the LEDLand for intentional infliction of emotional
distress and invasion of privacy. [Id. at 9-11].
They also claim punitive damages under 42 U.S.C. §
1981a. [Id. at 11]. Defendants ask this Court to
dismiss (1) all Defendants for failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted; (2) all Defendants other than
UBS and 3G as a result of the shield of limited liability;
and (3) Crawford and the Sofikitis Trust for lack of personal
jurisdiction. [Record Document 31].
order to survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6),
complaint must “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “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.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). In determining
whether a complaint states a plausible claim, a court must
construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff, see In re Great Lakes Dredge & Dock
Co., 624 F.3d 201, 210 (5th Cir. 2010), and accept as
true all well-pleaded factual allegations, see
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; In re Katrina Canal
Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2009).
However, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do
not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Thus, this Court does not
have to accept as true “conclusory allegations,
unwarranted factual inferences, or legal conclusions.”
Plotkin v. IP Axess Inc., 407 F.3d 690, 696 (5th
Cir. 2005) (citing Southland Sec. Corp. v. INSpire Ins.
Sols, Inc., 365 F.3d 353, 361 (5th Cir. 2004)).
Employment Discrimination Claims 
discrimination claims under Title VII . . . and the [LEDL]
are analyzed under the same standard.” Turner v.
Kan. City S. Ry. Co., 675 F.3d 887, 891 n.2 (5th Cir.
2012) (citing Lawrence v. Univ. of Tex. Med. Branch at
Galveston, 163 F.3d 309, 311 (5th Cir. 1999);
Knapper v. Hibernia Nat'l Bank, 2009-1036, p. 6
n.11 (La.App. 4 Cir. 9/8/10); 49 So.3d 898, 902 n.11).
“[T]itle VII does not permit the imposition of
liability upon individuals unless they meet [T]itle VII's
definition of ‘employer.'” Grant v. Lone
Star Co., 21 F.3d 649, 653 (5th Cir. 1994). A Title VII
“employer” is “a person engaged in an
industry affecting commerce who has fifteen or more employees
. . . and any agent of such a person.” 42 U.S.C. §
Court will first examine the liability of Crawford, Woodle,
and Sofikitis in their roles as “supervisors of
Plaintiffs.” [Record Document 26 at 4]. Under Title
VII, a person cannot be both an employee and an employer.
Grant, 21 F.3d at 653. In order to be
Plaintiffs' supervisors, Crawford, Woodle, and Sofikitis
must be employees of 3G and UBS. Because they are employees,
they cannot be treated as Plaintiffs' employers. Thus,
Crawford, Woodle, and Sofikitis are not liable under Title
VII or the LEDL in their supervisory capacities.
have also sued Woodle, Sofikitis, Crawford, the Sofikitis
Trust, Ridgemont, and RSC as “owner[s]” of 3G and
UBS. [Record Document 26 at 2-3]. Because Title VII makes
“employers” liable, the proper defendant in an
employment discrimination suit is the entity that actually
employed the plaintiff. Smith v. Amedisys Inc., 298
F.3d 434, 448-49 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Indest v.
Freeman Decorating, Inc., 164 F.3d 258, 262 (5th Cir.
1999); Grant, 21 F.3d at 652). Under Louisiana law,
a limited liability company is independent of its constituent
members. Ogea v. Merritt, 2013-1085, pp. 26-27 (La.
12/10/13); 130 So.3d 888, 906. LLC members are not liable for
an LLC's obligations, id. at p. 27; 130 So.3d at
907, and, for that reason, a member of an LLC “is not a
proper party to a proceeding by or against a limited
liability company, ” La. Stat. Ann. §
12:1320(B)-(C) (2010). Plaintiffs' Title VII and LEDL
claims are against 3G and UBS, the entities that employed
Plaintiffs. Therefore, even assuming that Woodle, Crawford,
Sofikitis, the Sofikitis Trust, Ridgemont, and RSC are
members of both LLCs, these Defendants' ownership
interests do not render them liable for 3G's and
UBS's alleged misconduct in allowing Plaintiffs to be
sexually harassed. Cf. Nielsen-Allen v. Indus. Maint.
Corp., 285 F.Supp.2d 671, 672 (D.V.I. 2002) (reaching
the same result under the Uniform Limited Liability Company
Act). Therefore, the Court will dismiss all claims under
Title VII or the LEDL against Woodle, Crawford, Sofikitis,
the Sofikitis Trust, Ridgemont, and RSC arising out of their
alleged ownership interests in 3G and UBS.
attempt to salvage their claim against these Defendants,
Plaintiffs cite La. R.S. 12:1320(D):
Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed as being in
derogation of any rights which any person may by law have
against a member, manager, employee, or agent of a limited
liability company because of any fraud practiced upon him,
because of any breach of professional duty or other negligent
or wrongful act by such person . . . .
La. Stat. Ann. § 12:1320(D). The Louisiana Supreme Court
has laid out a four-factor test to determine whether
liability may be imposed against an LLC member for conducting
arising out of the member's association with the LLC:
1) whether a member's conduct could be fairly
characterized as a traditionally recognized tort; 2) whether
a member's conduct could be fairly characterized as a
crime, for which a natural person, not a juridical person,
could be held culpable; 3) whether the conduct at issue was
required by, or was in furtherance of, a contract between the
claimant and the LLC; and 4) whether the conduct at issue was
done outside the member's capacity as a member.
Ogea, 2013-1085, p. 16; 130 So.3d at 900-01. The
common thread in these factors is that they each concern the
member's conduct. Plaintiffs have alleged that
owning membership interests in 3G and UBS makes Crawford,
Sofikitis, Woodle, the Sofikitis Trust, Ridgemont, and RSC
liable under Title VII and the LEDL. [Record Document 26 at
3]. Plaintiffs point to no authority, and this Court has
located none, supporting the proposition that an ownership
interest in an LLC that is vicariously liable for an
employee's conduct renders the act of ownership a
“negligent or wrongful act.” Therefore, the
exception that allows a person to bring suit against a member
of an LLC for that member's own wrongful conduct does not
allow imposition of liability on Sofikitis, Woodle, Crawford,
the Sofikitis Trust, Ridgemont, and RSC in their capacity as
owners of 3G and UBS.
only proper Defendants on Plaintiffs' claims under Title
VII and the LEDL are 3G and UBS, Plaintiffs' employers.
All claims under these statutes ...