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Brown v. Coca-Cola Bottling Company United, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

December 9, 2019

MARVIN BROWN
v.
COCA-COLA BOTTLING COMPANY UNITED, INC.

          RULING AND ORDER

          BRIAN A. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss Claims or Alternatively Rule 56 Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 10) filed by Defendant, Coca-Cola Bottling Company United, Inc. ("CCBCU"). CCBCU seeks the dismissal of claims brought by Marvin Brown ("Plaintiff). Oral Argument is not required. For the following reasons, the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 10) filed by CCBCU is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This matter arises from an incident occurring at Plaintiffs place of work on November 5, 2016. (Doc. 7 at ¶ 9). Plaintiff is a delivery driver for CCBCU. (Id. at ¶ 6). After completing his first shift of the day, Plaintiff was ordered to complete a "hot shot"[1] and was told to retrieve a handheld scheduling device that contained the details of his new assignment. (Id. at ¶ 9-10). Plaintiff claims that CCBCU's procedure requires that once a supervisor completes a review of the materials needed for the route, a red seal bearing multiple digits is placed on the rear of the truck. (Id. at ¶ 11). The last four digits are uploaded to a handheld device. (Id. at ¶ 12). On November 5, 2016, the assignment Plaintiff received did not contain the last four digits of a seal number but instead read "KKK." (Id. at ¶ 13). Two supervisors were present at that time: Plaintiffs supervisor Kenny Clark, as well as Chad McMichael. (Id. at ¶¶ 9, 14).

         Plaintiff filed a complaint regarding the incident in February 2017 with CCBCU's Human Resources manager Hope Zettlemore. (Id. at ¶ 15). Plaintiff and Zettlemore showed a photograph taken at the time of the incident to McMichael, who responded that there "would not be any retaliation."[2] (Id. at ¶ 16).

         In the months following Plaintiffs complaint to Human Resources, Plaintiff alleges that he has been retaliated against. (Id. at ¶ 17). Plaintiff complains of unexpected assignments to less desirable shifts, not receiving the raise he customarily received each year for the last 16 years, and being made to take more shifts. (Id. at ¶¶ 17-22).

         Plaintiff filed this lawsuit against Defendant for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII")[3] and the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law ("LEDL").[4] (Id. at ¶¶ 28, 32). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's management directed and participated in the unlawful conduct by failing to prevent and promptly address any acts of race discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation. (Id. at ¶ 23). Plaintiff asserts that Defendant willfully acted with malice and reckless indifference to Plaintiffs federally protected rights. Id. Plaintiff also alleges that he suffered from emotional distress, humiliation, and mental anguish as a direct result of Defendant's unlawful conduct. (Id. at ¶ 24). Finally, Plaintiff alleges that he suffered loss of enjoyment of life, inconvenience, and other non-pecuniary losses and incurred attorneys' fees and costs as a direct result of Defendant's unlawful conduct. (Id. at ¶ 25).

         Defendant moves for Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal of the Amended Complaint ("Complaint") on four grounds: 1) Plaintiff has not properly pled administrative exhaustion; 2) the Title VII claim was not filed in a timely fashion; 3) Plaintiff did not provide CCBCU with pre-suit notice of his LEDL claim and; 4) the Complaint fails to set forth an actionable claim for racial harassment under Title VII and the LEDL (Doc. 10-2 at pp. 1, 4-7).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint against the legal standard set forth in Rule 8, which requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, 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)). "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] ... a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 679.

         "[F]acial plausibility" exists "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 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Hence, the complaint need not set out "detailed factual allegations," but something "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" is required. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. When conducting its inquiry, the Court "accepts all well-pleaded facts as true and views those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Bustos v. Martini Club Inc., 599 F.3d 458, 461 (5th Cir. 2010).

         Rule 56 does not require that discovery be completed prior to a court issuing a ruling on a motion for summary judgment. Washington v. Allstate Ins. Co., 901 F.2d 1281, 1285 (5th Cir. 1990). However, at this stage, the Court does not have enough information to confidently render a ruling on Defendant's motion for summary judgment, and finds that discovery is necessary in this matter. Therefore, the Court will not consider the Motion for Summary Judgment at this time until discovery has been completed.

         III. DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS

         A. Exhaustion of ...


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