United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
WILSONIA W. HAYGOOD, Plaintiff,
ORANGE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS; FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION PRACTICES COMMISSION; and FLORIDA EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, Defendants.
DALTON JR. United States District Judge.
December 8, 2016, pro se Plaintiff Wilsonia W.
Haygood-a 69-year-old, black female-initiated this action
against Defendants for alleged violations of: (1) The Age
Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
(“ADEA”): and (2) Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 (“Title VII”). (See Doc. 1.)
In the Complaint, she alleges that after serving almost nine
years as a middle school teacher at Bridgewater Middle School
(“School”), she was forced to retire when false
allegations surfaced concerning her failure to report
“child-on-child abuse” in the classroom
(“Abuse Allegations”). (See Id.
¶¶ 7, 8.) Plaintiff claims that the Abuse
Allegations were promulgated by Defendants and arose in
October of 2011, which was just a month after she filed a
grievance with the School. (See id.) According to
Plaintiff, the Abuse Allegations are merely a pretext, as she
believes she was forced in to retirement due to her age and
race. (Id. ¶ 12.)
March 14, 2017, Defendant Florida Education Association
(“FEA”) moved for dismissal on the ground that
the Complaint fails to state a cause of action. (Doc. 15
(“MTD”).) Plaintiff responded (Doc. 16), and the
matter is ripe for the Court's consideration.
General Pleading Requirements
pleading 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). “[D]etailed
factual allegations” are not required, but “[a]
pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or
‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not do.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Rather, “a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Id. (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial plausibility when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows [a] court to
draw the reasonable inference that [the] defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 678;
see also Bailey v. Wheeler, 843 F.3d 473, 480 (11th
Cir. 2016). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a
party may request dismissal of a pleading that falls short of
these pleadings requirements. Dismissal is warranted if,
assuming the truth of the factual allegations in the
plaintiff's favor, there is a dispositive legal issue
which precludes relief. Neitzke v. Williams, 490
U.S. 319, 326 (1989).
se pleadings are held to “less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Haines
v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Nevertheless, a
court may not “serve as de facto counsel for a
party” or “rewrite an otherwise deficient
pleading in order to sustain an action.” GJR Inv.,
Inc. v. Cty. of Escambia, Fla., 132 F.3d 1359, 1369
(11th Cir. 1998), overruled on other grounds by
Iqbal, 556 U.S at 662 (2009); see also Beckwith v.
Bellsouth Telecomms., Inc., 146 F. App'x 368, 371
(11th Cir. 2005) (per curiam) (noting that “pro
se complaints also must comply with the procedural rules
that govern pleadings”).
pleadings come in a variety of forms. See, e.g.,
Weiland v. Palm Beach Cty. Sheriff's Office, 792
F.3d 1313, 1321 (11th Cir. 2015) (describing four categories
of shotgun pleadings). But “[t]he unifying
characteristic of all types of shotgun pleadings is that they
fail to one degree or another, and in one way or another, to
give the defendants adequate notice of the claims against
them and the grounds upon which each claim rests.”
Id. at 1323.
pleadings impose on the Court the onerous task of sifting out
irrelevancies to determine which facts are relevant to which
causes of action. See Id. at 1323. Described as
“altogether unacceptable, ” by the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, when a shotgun pleading is
filed in this Court, repleader is required. Cramer v.
Florida, 117 F.3d 1258, 1263 (11th Cir. 1997); see
also Paylor v. Hartford Fire Ins. Co., 748 F.3d 1117,
1125-28 (11th Cir. 2014). If the Court does not require
repleader, then “all is lost.” Johnson
Enters. of Jacksonville, Inc. v. FPL Grp., Inc., 162
F.3d 1290, 1333 (11th Cir. 1998).
initial matter, the Court finds that the Complaint is a
shotgun pleading, as it asserts Title VII and ADEA claims
against Defendants collectively, without specifying which
Defendant is responsible for which acts or omissions, or
which Defendant a particular claim is brought against.
(See Doc. 1, ¶¶ 7-12; see also
Weiland. 792 F.3d at 1323; see also, e.g.,
Magluta v. Samples, 256 F.3d 1282, 1284 (11th Cir.
2001) (describing a complaint that sets forth allegations
against “defendants” without making any
distinctions among them).) This is impermissible, hence the
Complaint must be dismissed. If Plaintiff chooses to replead,
the amended complaint must clearly specify which Defendants
are responsible for which acts and which Defendants the
claims are brought against.
MTD, FEA also points out other pleading deficiencies. First,
Plaintiff fails to plead facts establishing that FEA-or any
Defendant-is an “employer” under Title VII or the
ADEA. (Doc. 15, p. 3.) Under Title VII, an employer is
defined as “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 year.” See 42 U.S.C. §
2000e(b). Similarly, the ADEA defines an employer as “a
person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has
twenty or more employees for each working day in each of
twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding
year.”29 U.S.C. § 630(b); see also
Garcia v. Copenhaver, Bell & Assocs., M.D.'s,
P.A., 104 F.3d 1256, 1264 (11th Cir. 1997) (noting that
the only appreciable difference between the definitions of
“employer” under Title VII and the ADEA is the
number of employees required). Because this
employee-numerosity requirement is a necessary element to
Plaintiff's claims under Title VII and the ADEA, see
Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 516 (2006),
without it her claims fail as a matter of law.
FEA's MTD argues that Plaintiff has failed to establish
that she is an “employee” of FEA under Title VII
or the ADEA. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(f); 29
U.S.C. § 630(f). (Doc. 15, pp. 2-3.) The Court ...