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.

Golloway v. The Board of Trustees of Auburn University

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Eastern Division

September 12, 2017

SUNNY W. GOLLOWAY, Plaintiff,
v.
THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF AUBURN UNIVERSITY, JAY JACOBS, DAVID BENEDICT, RICH MCGLYNN, SCOTT DUVAL, and JEREMY ROBERTS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          W. KEITH WATKINS CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the court is the Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge (Doc. # 33), to which Plaintiff Sunny Golloway filed objections (Doc. # 34). The court has conducted an independent and de novo review of those portions of the Recommendation to which objection is made. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b).

         The Magistrate Judge recommended that Defendants' motion to dismiss (Doc. # 9) be granted in its entirety. Mr. Golloway challenges this conclusion, alleging that each count of his complaint should be allowed to go forward. Because the Magistrate Judge properly applied the law to the facts of this case, the Recommendation will be adopted (and Mr. Golloway's objections overruled) in large part. However, because Mr. Golloway alleged sufficient facts for his claim of tortious interference to survive 12(b)(6) scrutiny, the Recommendation will be rejected as to Count 5 of the complaint.

         I. JURISDICTION AND VENUE

         Subject-matter jurisdiction is exercised pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The parties do not contest personal jurisdiction or venue.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure tests the sufficiency of the complaint against the legal standard articulated by Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8 provides that the complaint must include “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). When evaluating a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the court must take the facts alleged in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Resnick v. AvMed, Inc., 693 F.3d 1317, 1321-22 (11th Cir. 2012). The court need not, however, accept mere legal conclusions as true. Id. at 1325.

         To survive a 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The complaint is facially plausible 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.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Because the Magistrate Judge already spelled out the facts and procedural history of this case, the analysis starts at the crux of the matter: Does Mr. Golloway's operative complaint survive 12(b)(6) scrutiny?

         A. Counts 1 & 2: Claims against the Board of Trustees of Auburn University

         Mr. Golloway objects to the Magistrate Judge's conclusion that his claims against the Board are due to be dismissed on sovereign-immunity grounds. It is beyond dispute that Alabama's state universities, including their boards of trustees, are instrumentalities of the state. E.g., Harden v. Adams, 760 F.2d 1158, 1163 (11th Cir. 1985); Rigby v. Auburn Univ., 448 So.2d 345, 347 (Ala. 1984). Moreover, the Magistrate Judge properly determined that the relief sought by Mr. Golloway does not fall into the exception for injunctive relief carved out by Ex parte Young. See Ala. State Univ. v. Danley, 212 So.3d 112, 129 (Ala. 2016). Contrary to Mr. Golloway's objection, his case does not seek “a liquidated, certain amount” such that his relief can be couched as injunctive in nature. (Doc. # 34 at 3.) Rather, because Mr. Golloway could only receive his claimed damages after a judicial finding that he was terminated without cause, his claim does not fall within the Ex parte Young “ministerial act” exception. Danley, 212 So.3d at 126; see also Woodfin v. Bender, No. 1150797, --- So.3d ----, 2017 WL 1192891, at *8 (Ala. March 31, 2017) (holding that “legitimate dispute” as to whether backpay was required entitled defendant to sovereign immunity). Therefore, the Magistrate Judge properly recommended dismissal of Mr. Golloway's claims against the Board.

         B. Count 3: Defamation

         Mr. Golloway objects to the recommended dismissal of his defamation claim, arguing that Defendant Jay Jacobs's statement that he was terminated “with cause” constituted defamation per se. It did not. “The first element of a cause of action in defamation is a false statement.” Tidwell v. Winn-Dixie, Inc., 502 So.2d 747, 748 (Ala. 1987). Mr. Jacobs's statement, “I regret to announce that earlier today I dismissed Auburn head baseball coach Sunny Golloway with cause, ” does not meet this threshold requirement. (Doc. # 32 at 77.) Auburn University dismissed Mr. Golloway “with cause” rather than “without cause”-the manner of termination is undeniable, regardless of whether cause actually existed. Because Mr. Jacobs's statement truthfully described the nature of the firing, the Magistrate Judge properly recommended dismissal. Cf. McCarver v. PPG Indus., Inc., 552 ...


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.