United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
OWEN BOWDRE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the court on Defendant NHC Place/Anniston,
LLC, Inc.'s (“NHC Place”) motion to dismiss
Plaintiff Sharon Forsyth's state law claim under the
Alabama Age Discrimination in Employment Act, §§
25-1-20 to -29, (“AADEA”), as duplicative of her
federal claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act,
§§ 29 U.S.C. 621-34, (“ADEA”). (Doc.
7). Defendant NHC Place asserts that § 25-1-29 expressly
prohibits bringing simultaneous claims under the ADEA and the
AADEA. (Doc. 7, at 2). Ms. Forsyth counters that §
25-1-29 only prohibits simultaneous proceedings in federal
and state courts. (Doc. 9, at ¶ 2). The parties now move
this court to interpret the statutory language of Alabama
Code § 25-1-29 (1975). For the following reasons, this
court interprets the statutory language to prohibit
simultaneous claims under the ADEA and AADEA and will GRANT
Defendant's motion to dismiss Count I of Plaintiff's
complaint as to the claim under the AADEA. Plaintiff will be
permitted to proceed on Count I as to her ADEA claim.
Standard of Review
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss attacks the legal sufficiency of
the complaint. Generally, the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure require only that the complaint provide a
“‘short and plain statement of the claim'
that will give the defendant fair notice of what the
plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47
(1957) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)). The Supreme Court
explained that “[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a
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, 555 (2007)). A complaint states a facially
plausible claim for relief “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. (citation omitted).
court accepts all factual allegations as true on a motion to
dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). See, e.g., Grossman
v. Nationsbank, N.A., 225 F.3d 1228, 1231 (11th Cir.
2000). However, legal conclusions unsupported by factual
allegations are not entitled to that assumption of truth.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Sharon Forsyth brought this age discrimination action against
Defendant NHC Place under the ADEA and the AADEA.
Defendant's motion to dismiss does not raise any factual
questions and does not challenge the legal sufficiency of Ms.
Forsyth's complaint in stating a claim for relief under
either the ADEA or the AADEA. Rather, NHC Place asks
this court to resolve a purely legal question and to
interpret the AADEA to prohibit simultaneous claims under the
ADEA and AADEA.
of statutory interpretation are questions of law.
Williams v. Homestake Mortg. Co., 968 F.2d 1137,
1139 (11th Cir. 1992) (citing Young v. Commissioner,
926 F.2d 1083, 1089 (11th Cir. 1991)). The question of law
before the court is one of pure statutory interpretation and
therefore is appropriate for review under a motion to
Code § 25-1-29 either permits or prevents Ms. Forsyth
from bringing the Alabama ADEA claim in addition to her
federal ADEA claim. The relevant portion of the Alabama
statute at issue reads as follows:
Any person aggrieved may elect to pursue their remedies under
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended, and the
Age Discrimination in Employment Act 29 U.S.C. Section 621 or
in the alternative bring a civil action in the circuit court
of the county in which the person was or is employed for such
legal or equitable relief as will effectuate the purposes of
this article. However, if an action is brought in the federal
court, any action pending in the state court shall be
simultaneously dismissed with prejudice.
Ala. Code § 25-1-29 (1975).
Eleventh Circuit has yet to address whether § 25-1-29
permits simultaneous claims under the ADEA and AADEA, but
judges in the Northern District of Alabama and the Middle
District of Alabama have come to contrary conclusions. The
Middle District addressed the issue first in Wallace v.
Jim Walter Homes, Inc., when Judge Myron Thompson
concluded “the statute expresses an intent to avoid
redundant adjudications of the same dispute in two separate
fora . . . to conserve the judicial resources of Alabama
state courts, not to make claims unavailable for simultaneous
pursuit in a single forum.” 68 F.Supp.2d 1303, 1304
(M.D. Ala. 1999). Several Middle District of Alabama
Magistrate Judges have reached the same conclusion, often
deferring to the initial analysis of the Wallace
decision and allowing simultaneous claims under the ADEA and
AADEA to move forward together. See McDowell v. Massey
Auto, No. 2:16-CV-3-MHT-WC, 2017 WL 2624226, at *14
(M.D. Ala. May 15, 2017); Capizzi v. Rheem Mfg. Co.,
No. 2:15-CV-276-PWG, 2016 WL 4238641, at *3 (M.D. Ala. Aug.
9, 2016); Redmon v. Massey Auto, No.
2:13-CV-313-SRW, 2014 WL 2855023, at *11 n. 17 (M.D. Ala.
Sept. 29, 2014).
in the Northern District of Alabama have consistently reached
the opposite conclusion. In Henry v. Jefferson County
Personnel Board, Judge David Proctor concluded that
“the plain language of the Alabama Age Act forces a
plaintiff choose either suit under the ADEA or,
in the alternative, suit under the Alabama Age
Act.” 519 F.Supp.2d 1171, 1185-86 (N.D. Ala. 2007)
(emphasis in original). In a later case, Magistrate Judge
John Ott considered both Judge Proctor's analysis in
Henry and Judge Thompson's analysis in
Wallace and found Judge Proctor's reasoning to
be more persuasive. Collins v. Compass Group, Inc.,
965 F.Supp.2d 1321, 1330-1331 (N.D. Ala. 2013) (Report and
Recommendation adopted by Judge Abdul Kallon). Finally, Judge
C. Lynwood Smith, relying on Collins, has twice
ruled to ...