United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
KELVIN O. SLAUGHTER, Plaintiff,
L.B. FOSTER COMPANY, Defendant.
ANNEMARIE CARNEY AXON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case is before the court on Defendant L.B. Foster
Company's motion to dismiss Plaintiff Kelvin O.
Slaughter's complaint (Doc. 6) and motion for sanctions
(Doc. 10). L.B. Foster contends that res judicata bars this
action and argues that the court should sanction Mr.
Slaughter's attorney because the claims that Mr.
Slaughter asserts in his complaint have been litigated and
decided against him.
reasons explained below, the court GRANTS
the motion to dismiss and DENIES the motion
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule 12(b)(6) Standard
judicata . . . is not a defense under 12(b); it is an
affirmative defense that should be raised under Rule
8(c).” Concordia v. Bendekovic, 693 F.2d 1073,
1075 (11th Cir. 1982). “Nevertheless a party may raise
a res judicata defense by motion rather than by answer where
the defense's existence can be judged on the face of the
complaint.” Id.; see also Brown v. One
Beacon Ins. Co. Inc., 317 Fed.Appx. 915, 918, (11th Cir.
2009) (“The district court properly dismissed the
action under Rule 12(b)(6) as barred by the doctrine of
res judicata. . . .”).
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). To survive a motion to
dismiss, a complaint must “state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “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). When
resolving a motion to dismiss, the court must “accept
the allegations in the complaint as true and constru[e] them
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.”
Miljkovic v. Shafritz & Dinkin, P.A., 791 F.3d
1291, 1297 (11th Cir. 2015) (quoting Hill v. White,
321 F.3d 1334, 1335 (11th Cir. 2003) (per curiam)).
Rule 11 Standard
district court may impose sanctions under Rule 11 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “(1) when a party
files a pleading that has no reasonable factual basis; (2)
when the party files a pleading that is based on a legal
theory that has no reasonable chance of success and that
cannot be advanced as a reasonable argument to change
existing law; or (3) when the party files a pleading in bad
faith for an improper purpose.” Massengale v.
Ray, 267 F.3d 1298, 1301 (11th Cir. 2001) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). “The goal of
Rule 11 sanctions is to reduce frivolous claims, defenses, or
motions, and to deter costly meritless maneuvers.”
Id. at 1302 (internal quotation marks and citation
omitted). “[D]istrict courts have broad discretion in
imposing Rule 11 sanctions.” Fox v. Acadia State
Bank, 937 F.2d 1566, 1569 (11th Cir. 1991).
20, 2015, Mr. Slaughter, a former L.B. Foster employee, filed
a lawsuit in this court against the company, asserting Title
VII race discrimination and retaliation claims. (Doc. 6-1).
On February 24, 2017, the court (Hopkins, J.) granted
judgment as matter of law in favor of L.B. Foster and
dismissed Mr. Slaughter's claims with prejudice. (Doc.
6-2; Doc. 6-3). Mr. Slaughter did not appeal.
8, 2018, Mr. Slaughter filed his complaint in this case,
asserting Title VII and § 1981 race discrimination and
Title VII retaliation claims. (Doc. 1). To support his
claims in this action, Mr. Slaughter relies on substantially
similar facts as he pleaded in the 2015 action.
(Compare Doc. 1 with Doc. 6-1).
party asserting res judicata as a defense, L.B. Foster must
establish four elements: “(1) the prior decision must
have been rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction; (2)
there must have been a final judgment on the merits; (3) both
cases must involve the same parties or their privies; and (4)
both cases must involve the same causes of action.”
Mann v. Palmer, 713 F.3d 1306, 1311 (11th Cir. 2013)
(internal quotation marks and citation ...