United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
OWEN BOWDRE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
La Toya Collins filed suit against BIRA Associates, LLC, and
SJP Investment Partners, LLC, under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.,
alleging that they are liable for sex discrimination. (Doc.
1). This matter is before the court on SJP Investment
Partners' motion to dismiss the complaint. (Doc. 6). The
court DENIES the motion to dismiss.
complaint alleges that in June 2016, BIRA operated the
Highland Hotel in Birmingham, Alabama. (Doc. 1 at 2). At that
time, Ms. Collins worked as a room attendant at the hotel.
(Id.). On June 30, 2016, the hotel's head of
housekeeping fired Ms. Collins, allegedly because she learned
that Ms. Collins was pregnant. (Id. at 2). Several
months later, in or around October 2016, SJP Investment
Partners purchased the hotel, which it continued to operate
under the same name and with the same fixtures, equipment,
furnishings, and materials, and with most of the same labor
force. (Id.). Ms. Collins' complaint asserts
that BIRA violated Title VII by firing her because of her
pregnancy, and that SJP Investment Partners is liable as a
successor-in-interest to BIRA. (Id. at 4).
Investment Partners moved to dismiss the complaint,
contending that it is not a successor-in-interest to BIRA
because it purchased only the real estate on which the hotel
sits. (Doc. 6 at 1-2). It asserts that it changed the name of
the hotel to the INDIGO Hotel and is currently remodeling it.
(Id. at 1). It attaches to its motion a copy of the
receiver's deed to the real estate, which provides that
on September 19, 2016, SJP Investment Partners purchased the
real estate and the building, as well as the building's
contents. (Doc. 6-1).
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) attacks the legal sufficiency of the complaint.
“To survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must
plead ‘a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Butler v. Sheriff of Palm Beach
Cty., 685 F.3d 1261, 1265 (11th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007)). At the motion to dismiss stage, the court must
accept as true the allegations in the complaint and construe
them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Id. But, the court may take judicial notice of
public records. Bryant v. Avado Brands, Inc., 187
F.3d 1271, 1280 (11th Cir. 1999) (“[T]he district court
was authorized at the motion to dismiss stage to take
judicial notice of relevant public documents . . . .”).
Collins contends that SJP Investment Partners should not be
dismissed because the complaint pleads that it is a
successor-in-interest to BIRA, which operated the hotel at
the time she was fired for becoming pregnant. (Doc. 8 at
7-11). The Eleventh Circuit has held that
successor-in-interest liability applies in Title VII cases.
In re Nat'l Airlines, Inc., 700 F.2d 695, 698
(11th Cir. 1983) (“[T]he . . . analysis employed by the
Supreme Court in labor law successor cases is the proper
method for determining whether a successor employer should be
bound by the Title VII transgressions charged against its
predecessor.”). The Eleventh Circuit explained that in
a Title VII case involving successor-in-interest liability,
the court must consider “the interests of the employees
and the employer and labor law generally” and
“the extent to which the successor corporation
essentially continues the operations of the former
corporation and whether the new corporation had notice of the
former corporation's practices and policies, ”
always keeping in mind that “the test for successor
liability is fact specific and must be conducted ‘in
light of the facts of each case and the particular legal
obligation which is at issue.'” Id.
(quoting Golden State Bottling Co. v. NLRB, 417 U.S.
168, 262 n.9 (1973)).
Collins has alleged facts that could support a finding that
SJP Investment Partners is a successor-in-interest to BIRA.
She alleges that SJP Investment Partners purchased the hotel
and has continued to operate it under the same name and with
the same fixtures, equipment, furnishings, and materials, and
with most of the same labor force. (Doc. 1 at 3). Although
SJP Investment Partners asserts that it changed the name of
the hotel and is remodeling it, the court must accept as true
the allegations in Ms. Collins' complaint, which are that
SJP Investment Partners continues to operate the hotel as
BIRA did. See Butler, 685 F.3d at 1265. And the
receiver's deed, which the court can consider because it
is a public record, shows that SJP Investment Partners
purchased the hotel, but it does not disprove that SJP
Investment Partners is a successor-in-interest to BIRA.
those reasons, the court DENIES SJP Investment Partners'
motion to dismiss the complaint. (Doc.6).