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Anderson v. Dolgencorp, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division

October 28, 2014

GWEN ANDERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
DOLGENCORP, LLC, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

CHARLES S. COODY, Magistrate Judge.

Before the court is the motion to dismiss (Doc. 4) filed by the Defendant, Dolgencorp, LLC. (Doc. 4). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1) and M.D. Ala. LR 73.1, the parties have consented to a United States Magistrate Judge conducting all proceedings in this case and ordering the entry of final judgment. The court has reviewed Dolgencorp's response (Doc. 12) to this court's order to show cause why diversity jurisdiction exists (Doc. 11), and the court concludes that the parties are diverse and that it has subject matter jurisdiction over all claims in this action. For the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion, the court concludes that the motion to dismiss is due to be granted and that the Plaintiff's claims are due to be dismissed with prejudice.

I. Standard of Review

Although it must accept well-pled facts as true, the court is not required to accept a plaintiff's legal conclusions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 664 (2009) ("[T]he tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions"). In evaluating the sufficiency of a plaintiff's pleadings, the court must indulge reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor, "but we are not required to draw plaintiff's inference." Aldana v. Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A., Inc., 416 F.3d 1242, 1248 (11th Cir. 2005). Similarly, "unwarranted deductions of fact" in a complaint are not admitted as true for the purpose of testing the sufficiency of plaintiff's allegations. Id.; see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681 (stating conclusory allegations are "not entitled to be assumed true").

A complaint may be dismissed if the facts as pled do not state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (explaining "only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss"); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 561-62, 570 (2007) (retiring the prior "unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts" standard). In Twombly, the Supreme Court emphasized that a complaint "requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Factual allegations in a complaint need not be detailed but "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Id. at 555 (internal citations and emphasis omitted).

In Iqbal, the Supreme Court reiterated that although Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, it does demand "more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A complaint must state a plausible claim for relief, and "[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. The mere possibility the defendant acted unlawfully is insufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. Id. at 679. The well-pled allegations must nudge the claim "across the line from conceivable to plausible." Twombly, 556 U.S. at 570.

II. Facts and Procedural History

On July 28, 2014, Gwen Anderson filed a verified complaint against Dolgencorp, LLC, in the Circuit Court of Geneva County, Alabama. (Doc. 1-5). The complaint was also signed by Letta Dillard Gorman, who is representing Anderson in this action. (Doc. 1-5 p. 12). On September 4, 2014, Dolgencorp removed the action to this court. (Doc. 1).

In her complaint, Anderson alleges that, on July 13, 2013, she and her grandmother went shopping at a Dollar General Store in Hartford, Alabama. (Doc. 1-5 ¶ 8). Anderson attempted to make her purchase with an EBT card, [1] but the store's electronic card reader could not read the card because it was torn from wear. (Doc. 1-4 ¶ 11). The clerk attempted several times to process the card and remarked that Anderson may need to get a new card. (Doc. 1-4 ¶ 13). A Caucasian store manager yelled out that Anderson should "get a job." (Doc. 1-4 ¶ 14). Anderson argued that the manger "did not know her, " but the manager continued to explain that if Anderson had used the card long enough to tear it, she should get a job. (Doc. 1-4 ¶¶ 15-17). The manager complained that she herself did not qualify for food stamps. (Doc. 1-4 ¶ 18). Anderson "got very upset and embarrassed and left the store in tears." (Doc. 1-4 ¶ 19).

Subsequently, Anderson telephoned the Hartford Dollar General Store and the Dollar General corporate office. (Doc. 1-4 ¶¶ 20-22). The Hartford Dollar General Store manager and the Dollar General District Manager apologized to Anderson for the incident. (Doc. 1-4 ¶ 20-22).

Later, "over ten" Hartford residents told Anderson that they had been subjected to racial discrimination while in the Hartford Dollar General Store. (Doc. 1-4 ¶ 23). In addition, several African-American Dollar General employees told Anderson that they were subjected to adverse employment actions because of their race. (Doc. 1-4 ¶ 24).

Anderson now suffers "extreme depression and anxiety" because of the incident at the store, for which she has had to undergo psychological treatment. (Doc. 1-4 ¶¶ 25-26). Her depression and anxiety caused her to lose a significant amount of weight, and she "cannot stop crying over the incident and feels everyone has been talking about her in the community." (Doc. 1-4 ¶¶ 28-29). Anderson has not been able to shop in the Dollar General Store since the incident. (Doc. 1-4 ¶ 27).

III. Discussion

Dolgencorp, incorrectly named in the complaint as "Dollar General Stores Corp., " is the corporate entity responsible for the Hartford Dollar General Store. (Doc. 1; Doc. 12). Anderson alleges that Dolgencorp is liable to her for racial discrimination in violation of "the Alabama Human Rights Act (AHRA'), " for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and for ...


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