Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Bell v. State of Alabama Department of Human Resources

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

June 6, 2017

MARTREECE BELL, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          R. DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         This 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.

         II. Standard of Review

         The 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. 2007).

         To 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.

         In 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.

         III. Analysis

         A. Defendants Ala. DHR and Jeff. Co. DHR are Not Suable Parties Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983

         Defendants 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.

         “States 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)).

         Ala. 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 dismissed.[1]

         B. Any Official Capacity Title VII Claim Against Defendants Nancy Buckner, Angela McClintock, Yolanda Boleware, Doug Heath, or Kimberly Camp is Due to be Dismissed

         Defendants 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. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.