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Ingram v. Clark County School District

United States District Court, D. Nevada

May 21, 2019

ANDRE M. INGRAM, Plaintiff,


          Gloria M. Navarro, Chief United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court are the Motions to Dismiss, (ECF Nos. 16, 17), filed by Defendant Clark County School District (“CCSD”) and Defendants Kris Patrick (“Patrick”), Aida Rivera (“Rivera”), and Joann V. Laeken (“Laeken”) (collectively “Individual Defendants”). Also pending before the Court is Plaintiff Andre Ingram's (“Plaintiffs”) Motion for Preliminary Injunction, (ECF No. 28), to which CCSD filed a Response, (ECF No. 31), and Plaintiff filed a Reply, (ECF No. 35). For the reasons stated below, CCSD's Motion to Dismiss, (ECF No. 16), is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part; the Individual Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, (ECF No. 17), is GRANTED; and Plaintiffs Motion for Preliminary Injunction, (ECF No. 28), is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises from Plaintiff's allegations of workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation while he was employed with CCSD as a food service worker. (First Am. Compl. (“FAC”) 5:13, 6:2-24, ECF No. 9); (CCSD's Mot. Dismiss (“MTD”) 2:3-4, ECF No. 16). Individual Defendants Patrick, Rivera, and Laeken are either Plaintiffs co-workers or supervisors in CCSD's Food Service Department. (FAC 2:8-16). Plaintiff contends that these Individual Defendants and CCSD used illegal workplace practices, such as: obstructing Plaintiffs efforts to fairly compete for a supervisor position; harassing Plaintiff with derogatory or sexist statements and conduct; and subjecting certain kitchen staff to intolerable work conditions when compared to a “white counterpart kitchen staff at Arbor View High School.” (Id. 3:3-24).

         Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination against CCSD with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on June 20, 2018, and the EEOC closed the case and issued a right-to-sue letter on July 10, 2018. Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, then filed his Complaint with the Court on October 9, 2018, which he amended on November 28, 2018. (Compl. at 1, ECF No. 8); (FAC at 1). That First Amended Complaint (“Amended Complaint”) asserts various claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq.: (1) discrimination based on race and sex; (2) retaliation based on race and sex; and (3) sexual harassment.[1] (FAC 6:2-24).

         On December 18, 2018, CCSD and the Individual Defendants moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint. (ECF Nos. 16, 17). Plaintiff did not file a response; instead, he filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction on January 14, 2019. (Mot. Prelim. Inj. at 1, ECF No. 28); (Reply 3:15-18, ECF No. 35).


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) mandates that a court dismiss a cause of action that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See North Star Int l v. Ariz. Corp. Comm 'n, 720 F.2d 578, 581 (9th Cir. 1983). When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, dismissal is appropriate only when the complaint does not give the defendant fair notice of a legally cognizable claim and the grounds on which it rests. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). In considering whether the complaint is sufficient to state a claim, the Court will take all material allegations as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See NL Indus., Inc. v. Kaplan, 792 F.2d 896, 898 (9th Cir. 1986).

         The Court, however, is not required to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences. See Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001). A formulaic recitation of a cause of action with conclusory allegations is not sufficient; a plaintiff must plead facts showing that a violation is plausible, not just possible. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In order to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. “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.

         “Generally, a district court may not consider any material beyond the pleadings in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion . . . . However, material which is properly submitted as part of the complaint may be considered on a motion to dismiss.” Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1555 n.19 (9th Cir. 1990) (citations omitted). Similarly, “documents whose contents are alleged in a complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, but which are not physically attached to the pleading, may be considered in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss” without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. Branch v. Tunnell, 14 F.3d 449, 454 (9th Cir. 1994). Otherwise, if the district court considers materials outside of the pleadings, the motion to dismiss is converted into a motion for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d); Arpin v. Santa Clara Valley Transp. Agency, 261 F.3d 912, 925 (9th Cir. 2001).

         If the court grants a motion to dismiss, it must then decide whether to grant leave to amend. Pursuant to Rule 15(a), the court should “freely” give leave to amend “when justice so requires, ” and in the absence of a reason such as “undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, futility of the amendment, etc.” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). Generally, leave to amend is only denied when it is clear that the deficiencies of the complaint cannot be cured by amendment. See DeSoto v. Yellow Freight Sys., Inc., 957 F.2d 655, 658 (9th Cir. 1992).


         Because Plaintiff is appearing pro se in this case, the Court liberally construes his pleadings and subjects them to “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citation omitted). Indeed, pro se plaintiffs in civil rights cases must be afforded “the benefit of any doubt.” Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dep 't, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988).

         A. Individual Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

         The Individual Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiffs claims against them because Title VII imposes liability on employers, not individual employees. (Individual Defs.' MTD 2:8-9, ECF No. 17). The Ninth Circuit has “long held that Title VII does not provide a separate cause of action against supervisors or co-workers.” Craig v. M & O Agencies, Inc., 496 F.3d 1047, 1058 (9th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted). The Court therefore dismisses Plaintiffs claims against the Individual Defendants with prejudice because those claims are not legally cognizable.

         B. CCSD's Motion to Dismiss

         CCSD moves to dismiss Plaintiffs claims because the supporting allegations “are insufficient to raise a plausible Title VII claim.” (CCSD's MTD 6:21-22, ECF No. 16). Alternatively, CCSD seeks dismissal because Plaintiff's service of the Complaint failed to comply with Federal Rule ...

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