United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the court on Defendant Dr. Andries J.
Steyn's Corrected Partial Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. # 37).
The parties have fully briefed the Motion to Dismiss (Docs. #
41, 44), and it is under submission. After careful review,
and for the reasons explained below, the court concludes that
the Motion to Dismiss is due to be granted.
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.
Steyn seeks partial or full dismissal of all five claims
asserted in Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint. The
court discusses each of Steyn's arguments below, in turn.
Plaintiff's Title VII Claims Against Defendant Steyn are
Due to be Dismissed
Steyn argues that Plaintiff's claims against him under
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title
VII”) are due to be dismissed, regardless of whether
the claims are brought against him in his individual or
official capacity. (Doc. # 37 at 6-7). The court agrees.
Title VII claims against Defendant Steyn in his individual
capacity fail to state a claim for relief. “The relief
granted under Title VII is against the employer, not
individual employees whose actions would constitute a
violation of the [Civil Rights Act of 1964].”
Hinson v. Clinch Cty., Ga. Bd. of Educ., 231 F.3d
821, 827 (11th Cir. 2000) (quoting Busby v. City of
Orlando, 931 F.2d 764, 772 (11th Cir. 1991)). Because
“[i]ndividual capacity suits under Title VII are [ ]
inappropriate, ” Plaintiff's Title VII claims
against Steyn in Counts One, Two, and Three of the Second
Amended Complaint are due to be dismissed to the extent they
raise individual capacity claims against Steyn.
Busby, 931 F.2d at 772.
any Title VII claim against Steyn in his official capacity,
those Title VII claims are also due to be dismissed because
they are duplicative of Plaintiff's claims against
Defendant University of Alabama Board of Trustees
(“Board of Trustees”). Official capacity claims
against an individual defendant are unnecessary when the
defendant's employer is a named defendant. See
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. City of Citronelle,
Ala., 420 F.3d 1262, 1270 (11th Cir. 2005) (affirming
summary judgment on official capacity claims against police
officers when their employer was also a defendant).
Plaintiff's Deceit and Misrepresentation Claim Against
Defendant Steyn in His Official Capacity is
Due to be Dismissed
Steyn argues that he cannot be sued in his official capacity
for deceit and misrepresentation because state agencies are
officially immune from Alabama state law claims. (Doc. # 37
at 7-8). Plaintiff responds that Steyn is not entitled to
immunity for this claim in his official or individual
capacity because the Second Amended Complaint alleges that he
willfully deceived Plaintiff about the reason for her
termination. (Doc. # 41 at 6-7). Steyn replies that the
deceit and misrepresentation claim is due ...