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Baker v. Henson

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division

February 9, 2018





         Plaintiff William Ray Baker, appearing pro se, filed this action against the individual defendants. (Docket 1). Plaintiff alleges some of these defendants have an affiliation with Rapid City Regional Hospital. Id. According to plaintiff, his lawsuit revolves around charges he filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), and the grounds for his case include: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (“Title VII”); the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”); the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”); the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”); and the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Id.

         In support of his claims, plaintiff asserts the following facts in his complaint and its attachments. He filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC on February 19, 2016. Id. at p. 4. He received a “right to sue” letter from the EEOC on February 19, 2016. (Docket 1-1). On March 26, 2017, he filed a charge with the EEOC based on FMLA and ADA violations. (Docket 1-3). He received another “right to sue” letter from the EEOC on April 10, 2017. (Docket 1-2). Instead of tying particular defendants with certain claims, plaintiff generally refers to “defendants” and “co-defendants.” (Docket 1 at p. 4). The complaint asserts it will be supplemented later by an affidavit from plaintiff with the title “The OSHA Story.” Id. The complaint also includes general references to violations of the ADA and other laws not specified. Id.

         The defendants who have been served filed motions to dismiss the complaint. (Dockets 14 & 16). The court grants their motions and dismisses the remaining defendants who have not been served as the court ordered. (Docket 20).


         Defendants Jennifer Van Anne and Comet Haraldson argue for dismissal under Rules 12(b)(5) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Docket 14). Defendants Maureen Henson, Janel Brown, Trisina Weekley and Judith Warnke (collectively, “Regional defendants”) assert plaintiff's complaint should be dismissed based on Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). (Docket 16). As explained below, the court grants the motions to dismiss based on Rule 12(b)(6). Consequently, the court does not address defendants' other bases for dismissal.

         Plaintiff submitted several filings in response to defendants' motions, and they contain numerous factual assertions beyond those alleged in his complaint. (Dockets 21, 21-1, 21-2 & 24). The additional facts in plaintiff's responses are not properly before the court and the court will not consider them in ruling on defendants' motions. See Fischer v. Minneapolis Pub. Sch., 792 F.3d 985, 990 n.4 (8th Cir. 2015) (“But Fischer failed to include these claims in his complaint, failed to file an amended complaint by the deadline, and did not later petition to court to amend his complaint. Accordingly, these claims were not properly before the district court.”) (internal citations omitted); Morgan Distrib. Co., Inc. v. Unidynamic Corp., 868 F.2d 992, 995 (8th Cir. 1989) (“[I]t is axiomatic that a complaint may not be amended by the briefs in opposition to a motion to dismiss.”); Midland Farms, LLC v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 35 F.Supp.3d 1056, 1066 (D.S.D. 2014) (“Midland may not amend its Complaint through an argument raised in a brief in opposition to a motion to dismiss.”) (collecting cases).

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), a plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Two “working principles” underlie Rule 12(b)(6) analysis. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). First, courts are not required to accept as true legal conclusions “couched as . . . factual allegation[s]” in the complaint. See id. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555) (internal quotation marks omitted). The court does, however, “take the plaintiff's factual allegations as true.” Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009). Second, the plausibility standard is a “context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation omitted). The complaint is analyzed “as a whole, not parsed piece by piece to determine whether each allegation, in isolation, is plausible.” Braden, 588 F.3d at 594.

         In applying these principles, the court must construe plaintiff's pro se complaint liberally. See Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004). This means “that if the essence of an allegation is discernible, even though it is not pleaded with legal nicety, then the district court should construe the complaint in a way that permits the layperson's claim to be considered within the proper legal framework.” Jackson v. Nixon, 747 F.3d 537, 544 (8th Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted). The complaint “still must allege sufficient facts to support the claims advanced.” Stone, 364 F.3d at 914.

         I. Claims against Jacklyn Winters and Mary Bell

         Based on the record to date, plaintiff has not completed service on Winters and Bell. The court noted this in an earlier order, where the court indicated plaintiff had until October 28, 2017, to complete service on Winters and Bell. (Docket 20 at pp. 1-2). The order provided plaintiff with “clear notice of his responsibility to serve all defendants” under Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and stated failure to do so may result in dismissal without prejudice. Id. Because plaintiff failed to adequately serve Winters and Bell or show good cause for the failure, the court dismisses plaintiff's claims against those defendants without prejudice. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(m).

         II. Title VII, ADA and ADEA

         Plaintiff pursues Title VII, ADA and ADEA claims against individual ...

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