United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
Amended Complaint (Doc. # 14), which has been filed by
Defendants State of Alabama Department of Human Resources
(“Ala. DHR”) and Jefferson County Department of
Human Resources (“Jeff. Co. DHR”). Plaintiff has
responded to the motion, and it is under submission. (Doc. #
19). After careful review, and for the reasons explained
below, the court concludes that the Motion to Dismiss is due
to be granted in part and denied in part. In addition,
Plaintiff will be directed to explain why the court should
not dismiss her claims against the individual Defendants for
failure to timely serve them.
Standard of Review
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint
provide “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). However, the complaint must include
enough facts “to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Pleadings that
contain nothing more than “a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action” do not meet Rule 8
standards, nor do pleadings suffice that are based merely
upon “labels and conclusions” or “naked
assertion[s]” without supporting factual allegations.
Id. at 555, 557. In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion
to dismiss, courts view the allegations in the complaint in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Watts
v. Fla. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1295 (11th Cir.
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must “state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. 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.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Although “[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a
‘probability requirement, '” the complaint
must demonstrate “more than a sheer possibility that a
defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. A
plausible claim for relief requires “enough fact[s] to
raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal
evidence” to support the claim. Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556.
considering a motion to dismiss, a court should “1)
eliminate any allegations in the complaint that are merely
legal conclusions; and 2) where there are well-pleaded
factual allegations, ‘assume their veracity and then
determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement
to relief.'” Kivisto v. Miller, Canfield,
Paddock & Stone, PLC, 413 F. App'x 136, 138
(11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Am. Dental Ass'n v. Cigna
Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1290 (11th Cir. 2010)). That task
is context specific and, to survive the motion, the
allegations must permit the court based on its
“judicial experience and common sense . . . to infer
more than the mere possibility of misconduct.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. If the court determines that
well-pleaded facts, accepted as true, do not state a claim
that is plausible, the claims are due to be dismissed.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.
Defendants Ala. DHR and Jeff. Co. DHR are Not Suable Parties
Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Ala. DHR and Jeff. Co. DHR argue that they are not subject to
suit under Section 1983 for at least two reasons: (1) they
are entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity for such claims;
and (2) they are not suable “persons” under
Section 1983. (Doc. # 14 at 8-10). The court agrees.
and state officials acting in their official capacities
cannot be sued for money damages under § 1983 because
they are not considered to be ‘persons' for the
purposes of the statute.” Carr v. Bd. of Regents of
Univ. Sys. of Ga., 249 F. App'x 146, 148 (11th Cir.
2007) (citing Will v. Mich. Dep't of State
Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989)). Likewise, the Eleventh
Amendment bars suit against an “arm of the State,
” including “agents and instrumentalities of the
State.” Manders v. Lee, 338 F.3d 1304, 1308
(11th Cir. 2003) (en banc) (plurality opinion). An
Alabama state agency is entirely immune from suit under
Section 1983 because Congress has not abrogated Eleventh
Amendment immunity for Section 1983 actions and the state of
Alabama has not waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity.
Strickland v. Bd. of Trustees of Univ. of Ala., 2014
WL 6749019, at *2 (N.D. Ala. Dec. 1, 2014) (citing
Will, 491 U.S. at 66, and Carr v. City of
Florence, Ala., 916 F.2d 1521, 1525 (11th Cir. 1990)).
DHR and Jeff. Co. DHR are arms of the state which qualify for
Eleventh Amendment immunity from Section 1983 claims.
E.g., Poindexter v. Dep't of Human
Res., 946 F.Supp.2d 1278, 1282, 1284 (M.D. Ala. 2013)
(concluding that Ala. DHR is a state agency); Muhammad v.
Bethel-Muhammad, 2012 WL 1854676, at *2 (S.D. Ala. May
21, 2012) (concluding that Ala. DHR and Dallas County
Department of Human Resources are arms of the state);
Rizo v. Ala. Dep't of Human Res., 228 F.
App'x 832, 834-35 (11th Cir. 2007) (affirming the
dismissal of an Americans with Disabilities Act claim against
Ala. DHR on the ground of Eleventh Amendment immunity).
Likewise, they are not “persons” under Section
1983 because they are state entities. See Carr, 249
F. App'x at 148 (holding that the Board of Regents for
the University System of Georgia was not a person for
purposes of Section 1983). Therefore, Plaintiff's Section
1983 claim against Ala. DHR and Jeff. Co. DHR is due to be
Any Official Capacity Title VII Claim Against Defendants
Nancy Buckner, Angela McClintock, Yolanda Boleware, Doug
Heath, or Kimberly Camp is Due to be Dismissed
insist that the Title VII claims against Defendants Buckner,
McClintock, Boleware, Heath, and Camp in their official
capacities are due to be dismissed as duplicative. (Doc. # 14
at 16). Plaintiff agrees with Defendants and has asked to
withdraw any such claims. (Doc. # 19 at 18). In light of the
parties' agreement, the Title VII claims against the
individual Defendants in their official capacities are due to
be dismissed. Cf. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159,
166 (1985) (“As long as the government entity receives
notice and an opportunity to respond, an official-capacity
suit is, in all respects other than name, to be treated as a
suit against the entity.”); Snow ex rel. Snow v.