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Brooks v. Alabama State Department of Education

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

August 7, 2018




         Now before the court is a motion to dismiss filed by Defendants Alabama State Department of Education (“ALDOE”), June Barrett, and Perry Fulton. Doc. 8. Plaintiff Martin Brooks filed this lawsuit on June 7, 2018, alleging several state and federal claims arising out of his attempt to have a barbeque sauce sold to public schools in Alabama. Doc. 1. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73, the parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge. Docs. 16 & 17. After careful consideration of the parties' submissions and the applicable law, and for the reasons discussed below, the motion to dismiss (Doc. 8) is due to be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.


         The court has subject-matter jurisdiction over the claims in this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and § 1367. The parties do not contest personal jurisdiction or venue, and the court finds adequate allegations to support both.


         The facts as alleged in the complaint are as follows. Brooks is the owner and sole proprietor of DatGoodSauce. ALDOE oversees and supervises the Child Nutrition Program for public schools in Alabama. Barrett is the Program Coordinator for the Child Nutrition Program with the ALDOE and Fulton is the former Program Coordinator.

         Brooks alleges that in February 2011 he contacted a public high school in Birmingham, Alabama about purchasing his barbeque sauce. He was told to contact the Child Nutrition Program with ALDOE, and did so. Fulton, of the Child Nutrition Program, told Brooks to check back in November 2011. Brooks did as requested. At that time Brooks was told that he would receive correspondence on how to present product information to the state. After subsequently meeting with the state's purchasing committee, Brooks received correspondence from Fulton stating that Brooks' product would be taste tested by students. Brooks alleges that he was not informed about the bid process or prebid requirements and was not provided a bid document. Doc. 1 at 5. Brooks became concerned about the legitimacy of the taste testing. He contacted Fulton in March 2012 to request the taste test results and alleges that he received incomplete testing documentation.

         Brooks complained to the USDA and the Office of Inspector General. He then received a report which said that “due to some violations, ” he would be allowed to retest. Doc. 1 at 6. Brooks alleges that he spent all of 2015 trying to get the Child Nutrition Program office to provide open bids. He alleges that in 2016 he received notice from the Office of Inspector General that the investigation of the bid process would be reopened. Brooks alleges that his counsel's paralegal/investigator separately researched the situation and determined that some of the schools may not have actually conducted the taste test. Brooks alleges that he has never received documents showing that the taste test was conducted or a copy of his bid contract.

         Based on these allegations, Brooks brings the following claims: a violation of due process against the ALDOE, Fulton, and Barrett; violations of the Code of Federal Regulations (“CFR”) by the ALDOE, Barrett, and Fulton; violations of the Code of Alabama by the ALDOE, Fulton, and Barrett; negligence claims against the ALDOE, Fulton, and Barrett; and claims of negligent hiring, retention, and supervision against the ALDOE.


         In considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court must “take the factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Pielage v. McConnell, 516 F.3d 1282, 1284 (11th Cir. 2008). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is “plausible on its face” if “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). The complaint “requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Factual allegations need not be detailed, but “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ” id., and “unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation[s]” will not suffice. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.


         A. Federal Claims

         1. ...

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