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Morrison v. Brennan

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

November 5, 2019

THOMAS E. MORRISON, Plaintiff,
v.
MEGAN J. BRENNAN, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING “DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS” AND “DEFENDANT SEARLE'S MOTION TO DISMISS OR MOTION FOR MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT”

          TOM BARBER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on “Defendants' Motion to Dismiss”[1] (Doc. # 70) and “Defendant Searle's Motion to Dismiss or Motion for More Definite Statement.” (Doc. # 73). Plaintiff has not filed a response. After reviewing the motions, court file, and the record, the Court finds as follows:

         Procedural History

         Plaintiff, an employee of the United States Postal Service, filed his initial pro se complaint on November 27, 2017. On March 30, 2018, Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint based on his failure to comply with service requirements and because postal service employees - as they are not agency heads - were improperly joined as defendants. (Doc. # 28). Judge Kovachevich then granted Plaintiff's “Motion to Amend Complaint.” (Doc. ## 38, 42). In her order, Judge Kovachevich reminded Plaintiff to plead a “short and plain statement of [his] claim” through “simple, concise, and direct allegations, ” in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) and (d)(1). The Court also provided Plaintiff with guidance on where to find resources for pro se litigants.

         On February 26, 2019, Plaintiff filed his amended complaint, (Doc. # 46), which is the subject of the instant motions.[2] The complaint was submitted using a pro se “Complaint for Employment Discrimination” form, and Plaintiff appears to bring claims for wrongful termination, failure to accommodate disability, retaliation, and harassment for incidents that occurred between June 1, 2015 - July 26, 2016.

         Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing the [plaintiff] is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). “Although Rule 8(a) does not require ‘detailed factual allegations,' it does require ‘more than labels and conclusions'; a ‘formulaic recitation of the cause of action will not do.'” Young v. Lexington Ins. Co., No. 18-62468, 2018 WL 7572240, at *1 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 6, 2018), report and recommendation adopted, No. 18-62468-CIV, 2019 WL 1112274 (S.D. Fla. Jan. 9, 2019) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)). In order to survive a motion to dismiss, factual allegations must be sufficient “to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. A claim is facially plausible when the pleaded facts allow the court “to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1940, (2009).

         When deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, review is generally limited to the four corners of the complaint. Rickman v. Precisionaire, Inc., 902 F.Supp. 232, 233 (M.D. Fla. 1995). Furthermore, when reviewing a complaint for facial sufficiency, a court “must accept [a] [p]laintiff's well pleaded facts as true, and construe the [c]omplaint in the light most favorable to the [p]laintiff. Id. (citing Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)).

         As Plaintiff in this case is proceeding pro se, the Court more liberally construes the pleadings. Alba v. Montford, 517 F.3d 1249, 1252 (11th Cir. 2018). However, a pro se plaintiff must still conform with procedural rules and the Court does not have “license to act as de facto counsel” on behalf of a pro se plaintiff. United States v. Padgett, 917 F.3d 1312, 1317 (11th Cir. 2019).

         Analysis

         Defendants argue that: (1) postal service employees sued individually must be dismissed with prejudice because the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction; (2) Plaintiff failed to allege he exhausted the requisite administrative remedies; and (3) Plaintiff failed to allege a plausible claim of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment.

         I. Dismissal of postal service employees

         Claims of discrimination made under Title VII and the Rehabilitation Act may only be brought against the head of the department, agency, or unit against which discrimination is alleged. Farrell v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 910 F.Supp. 615, 618 (M.D. Fla. 1995); see also Glover v. Donahoe, 626 Fed.Appx. 926, 931 (11th Cir. 2015) (finding the only properly named defendant for plaintiff's Title VII claims is the postmaster general, in his official capacity).

         In addition to suing the Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service, Plaintiff also sues several current and retired Postal Service employees. The only proper defendant in this case is the Postmaster General, in his official capacity. Therefore, this case is dismissed with prejudice as to Defendants Eric D. Chavez, Timothy L. Dose, Lisa I. Landes, Robert E. ...


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