United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division
MOHAMED A. SEIF, Ph.D., Plaintiff,
THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF ALABAMA A&M, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Mohamed E. Seif, Ph.D. is a tenured professor at Alabama
Agricultural & Mechanical University. In this lawsuit,
Dr. Seif alleges that the defendants discriminated against
him because of his race, ethnicity, ancestry, and national
origin. Dr. Seif asserts Title VII claims against the Board
of Trustees of Alabama A&M. Dr. Seif asserts 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 claims against Dr. Andrew Hugine, Jr.,
individually and in Dr. Hugine's official capacity as
Alabama A&M's President; Dr. Daniel Wims,
individually and in his official capacity as Alabama
A&M's Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs;
and Dr. Cassandra Tarver-Ross, individually and in her
official capacity as Alabama A&M's Director of Human
Resources. (Doc. 20, p. 2).
to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, the individual defendants ask the Court to dismiss
Dr. Seif's § 1983 claims against them. (Doc. 22).
For the reasons stated below, the Court grants in part and
denies in part the defendants' motion to dismiss.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule 12(b)(1) Standard
12(b)(1) enables a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1). A defendant may present either a facial or a
factual challenge to subject matter jurisdiction.
Morrison v. Amway Corp., 323 F.3d 920, 924 (11th
Cir. 2003). If it is apparent from the face of the complaint
that the plaintiff has pled facts that confer subject matter
jurisdiction under a statute, then a court must deny a
defendant's 12(b)(1) motion. Houston v. Marod
Supermarkets, Inc., 733 F.3d 1323, 1335 (11th Cir.
2013). In conducting a facial analysis, a court must take the
allegations of the complaint as true. Houston, 733
F.3d at 1335. In contrast, when a defendant mounts a factual
challenge to subject matter jurisdiction, a district court
may consider extrinsic evidence and weigh the facts to
determine whether it may exercise jurisdiction.
Houston, 733 F.3d at 1336.
Rule 12(b)(6) Standard
12(b)(6) enables a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint
for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion
to dismiss tests the sufficiency of a complaint against the
“liberal pleading standards set forth by Rule
8(a)(2).” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007). Pursuant to Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must contain
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). “Generally, to survive a [Rule 12(b)(6)]
motion to dismiss and meet the requirement of Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2), a complaint need not contain ‘detailed factual
allegations, ' but rather ‘only enough facts to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Maledy v. City of Enterprise, 2012
WL 1028176, *1 (M.D. Ala. March 2012) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007)).
“Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need
only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . .
claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'”
Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555).
evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a district
court accepts as true the allegations in the complaint and
construes the allegations in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. See Brophy v. Jiangbo Pharms. Inc., 781
F.3d 1296, 1301 (11th Cir. 2015). Therefore, in this opinion,
the Court presents the allegations in the complaint in the
light most favorable to Dr. Seif, recognizing that the
defendants may dispute the allegations.
Seif is an Arabic-Egyptian male. (Doc. 20, ¶¶ 8,
34). Alabama A&M hired Dr. Seif in 2002. (Doc. 20, ¶
9). Dr. Seif received tenure in 2006, and in 2007, Dr. Seif
became the acting chair of the university's mechanical
20, ¶ 9). In 2008, Alabama A&M named Dr. Seif the
chair of the mechanical engineering department. (Doc. 20,
Dr. Seif became chair of the mechanical engineering
department, the university had virtually no laboratory
facilities. Alabama A&M now has six
“well-equipped” laboratories that are in
“excellent condition.” (Doc. 20, ¶ 10). In
2011, Alabama A&M “significantly expanded”
Dr. Seif's responsibilities when it placed the civil
engineering department under his leadership, and Dr. Seif
became the chair of both the mechanical engineering and civil
engineering departments. (Doc. 20, ¶ 11). Dr. Seif also
oversees the construction management department. (Doc. 20,
to Dr. Seif, he has “worked diligently to address all
of the accreditation requirements” of the civil and
mechanical engineering departments. (Doc. 20, ¶ 12). As
a result of Dr. Seif's efforts, for the first time in
Alabama A&M's history, the two programs obtained the
maximum 6 years of accreditation. (Doc. 20, ¶ 12). Under
Dr. Seif's leadership, enrollment in the mechanical
engineering program has increased from 121 students in 2007
to 280 students today. (Doc. 20, ¶ 13). Dr. Seif
contends that that “enrollment and [the] trajectory of
enrollment increase” for the mechanical engineering
department “is far better” than other engineering
departments. (Doc. 20, ¶ 13).
becoming chair of the mechanical engineering department in
2008, Dr. Seif helped develop new courses, labs, and
innovative programs. (Doc. 20, ¶ 15). He participated in
a number of “high level scholarly activities, . . .
author[ed]  publications in prestigious and high quality
journals, . . . obtain[ed] certifications, and provid[ed]
mentorship programs for students.” (Doc. 20, ¶
15). In 2013, Dr. Seif led a team of Alabama A&M students
in a national NASA rocket building competition in which
Alabama A&M placed first out of 40 universities. (Doc.