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Richie v. Mitchell

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division

June 9, 2015

GENE MITCHELL, et al., Defendants.


C. LYNWOOD SMITH, Jr., District Judge.

Plaintiff, Shannon Richie, filed this case on December 3, 2014, asserting claims for a gender-based hostile work environment and retaliation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., against her former employer, Gene Mitchell, the Sheriff of Lawrence County, Alabama, and Mike Agee, a Lieutenant in the Sheriff's office and plaintiff's former supervisor.[1] The case currently is before the court on defendants' motion, filed May 5, 2015, to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).[2]

Plaintiff originally was ordered to respond to defendants' motion by May 19, 2015.[3] Plaintiff's attorney subsequently filed two motions to extend that response deadline, citing his heavy case load and recent transition in administrative staff.[4] Both motions were granted, extending the deadline first to May 26, 2015, [5] and then to May 29, 2015.[6] As of this date, plaintiff still has not filed a response to defendants' motion to dismiss, nor has she filed any other motions to extend the response deadline.


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b) permits a party to move to dismiss a complaint for, among other reasons, "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). This rule must be read together with Rule 8(a), which requires that a pleading contain only a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). While that pleading standard does not require "detailed factual allegations, " Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 550 (2007), it does demand "more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citations omitted). As the Supreme Court stated in Iqbal:

A pleading that offers "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." [ Twombly, 550 U.S., at 555]. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders "naked assertion[s]" devoid of "further factual enhancement." Id., at 557.
To survive a motion to dismiss founded upon Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), [for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted], a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Id., at 570. 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., at 556. The plausibility standard is not akin to a "probability requirement, " but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Ibid. Where a complaint pleads facts that are "merely consistent with" a defendant's liability, it "stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Id., at 557 (brackets omitted).
Two working principles underlie our decision in Twombly. First, the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice. Id., at 555 (Although for the purposes of a motion to dismiss we must take all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true, we "are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation" (internal quotation marks omitted)). Rule 8 marks a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era, but it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions. Second, only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss. Id., at 556. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will, as the Court of Appeals observed, be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. 490 F.3d, at 157-158. But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not "show[n]" - "that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(a)(2).
In keeping with these principles a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.

Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79 (emphasis added).


Plaintiff, Shannon Ritchie, was employed as a Correctional Officer at the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office from July 3, 2012, until her employment was terminated on February 21, 2013.[7] She asserts that:

There exists a sexually hostile work environment at the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office which affected Plaintiff Richie and other females. Evidence of this hostile environment includes, but is not limited to, the failure to promote qualified female Correctional Officers; a workplace filled with sexually insensitive and derogatory remarks made by the supervisors and other employees; disparate treatment with respect to discipline for female employees or employees who engage in protected activities; the steering of female applicants to corrections positions; the sheriff's office's refusal to investigate or to appropriately take corrective action when complaints are made concerning gender discrimination; retaliation against females who opposed and or participated in protected activities with respect to 42 U.S.C. § 1981and Title VII. Systematic discrimination exists at the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office with respect to females as a result of the policies, customs and procedures implemented by Defendant Sheriff Mitchell during his employment with the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office.[8]

More specifically, plaintiff alleges that two male co-workers made sexually explicit comments like "look at that ass" while she was trying on her uniform during July of 2012. Plaintiff complained to her then-supervisor "Colonel Mitchell"[9] and defendant Sheriff Gene Mitchell. "The only remedial measure taken was that the two co-workers were re-assigned to another shift, but they were neither suspended nor terminated."[10] Despite that action, plaintiff was reassigned back to a shift with one ...

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