United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the court on Defendant Dr. Perry Ward's
Motion to Dismiss Count I of Plaintiff s Amended Complain on
the Grounds of Qualified Immunity. (Doc. # 16). In his
motion, Defendant Ward seeks dismissal of Count One of
Plaintiffs Amended Complaint. Defendant's motion is fully
briefed. (Docs. # 17, 21, 22). For the reasons stated below,
Defendant's motion is due to be granted in part and
denied in part.
in 2010, Plaintiff was employed with Lawson State Community
College ("Lawson State") as an assistant men's
basketball coach. (Doc. # 3 at ¶ 12). Plaintiff
continued to work for Defendant Lawson State until September
2015, when school officials contacted him regarding the
renewal of his yearly contract. (Id. at ¶ 13).
However, approximately one week before he was to sign another
contract renewing his employment, Lawson State officials
informed Plaintiff that he had been accused of making
inappropriate remarks to female student athletes.
(Id. at ¶ 17). Defendant Lawson State conducted
an investigation regarding these accusations, but the school
did not interview any of the witnesses Plaintiff offered on
his behalf. (Id. at ¶ 18). Ultimately,
Defendant Lawson State concluded the allegations made against
Plaintiff were substantiated, and terminated Plaintiff
without providing him a hearing. (Id.).
his termination, Plaintiff attempted to contact Defendant
Ward, the President of Lawson State, who has authority to
make personnel decisions on behalf of the school.
(Id. at ¶¶ 19, 22). Initially, Plaintiff
was not given an audience with Defendant Ward. (Id.
at ¶ 20). After obtaining an attorney, he was given a
"name clearing hearing." (Id.). However,
that hearing did not afford him the opportunity to contest
the basis of his dismissal. (Id.).
September 2015, Plaintiff learned that a white female
part-time coach had been offered a contract that would pay
her significantly more than Plaintiff. (Id. at
¶ 15). Defendant Ward stated that this white female
part-time coach was paid more than any of the
African-American part-time coaches because the school needed
"diversity." (Id.). Plaintiff later
learned that several other white part-time coaches and
administrators were hired after him and paid more than him at
the time of they were hired. (Id.).
Standard of Review
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only that the
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). Still, the complaint must include
enough facts "to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level." Bell Atlantic 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.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 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 nonmoving
party. Watts v. Fla. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289,
1295 (11th Cir. 2007).
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. The Supreme Court has identified "two
working principles" for a district court to use in
applying the facial plausibility standard. First, in
evaluating motions to dismiss, the court must assume the
veracity of well-pleaded factual allegations; however, the
court does not have to accept as true legal conclusions when
they are "couched as . . . factual allegation[s]."
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Second, "only a
complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a
motion to dismiss." Id. at 679.
of the facial plausibility standard involves two steps. Under
prong one, the court must determine the scope and nature of
the factual allegations that are well-pleaded and assume
their veracity; and under prong two, the court must proceed
to determine the claim's plausibility given the
well-pleaded facts. 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."
Id. 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. Id.
Ward's motion to dismiss proceeds on two grounds. First,
he argues that Plaintiffs Amended Complaint fails to state a
due process claim because it does not establish that
Plaintiff had a protected property interest in his continued
employment. (Doc. # 17 at p. 3).
he argues that Plaintiffs equal protection claim is due to be
dismissed because Plaintiff fails to allege the existence of
a similarly situated comparator. (Id. at ...