United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
JEFFREY D. WILLINGHAM, Plaintiff,
INDUSTRIAL CHEMICALS, INC. and WILLIAM L. WELCH, JR., Defendants.
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Jeffrey Willingham has filed a motion seeking relief from the
Court's order dismissing his RICO claims against
defendants Industrial Chemicals, Inc. and William Welch.
(Doc. 35). Mr. Willingham asks the Court to either reinstate
his RICO claims, allow him to file an amended complaint, or
certify the Court's decision to dismiss his RICO claims
for appeal under Rule 54(b). (Doc. 35, p. 1). For the reasons
explained below, the Court denies Mr. Willingham's motion
defendants fired Mr. Willingham from his job at Industrial
Chemicals. Mr. Willingham alleges that the defendants fired
him because of his disability and because of his race in
violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and 42
U.S.C. § 1981. (Doc. 18). The defendants have not asked
the Court to dismiss Mr. Willingham's ADA claim, and the
Court previously has determined that Mr. Willingham has
adequately pleaded his claim for race discrimination.
(See Doc. 34).
focus of this order is Mr. Willingham's third theory of
recovery - his RICO theory. Mr. Willingham asserts that IC
and Mr. Welch, Mr. Willingham's “ultimate boss,
” violated RICO because they knowingly employed at
least two illegal aliens, and when IC fired him, the company
unlawfully chose to retain an illegal alien in a job which
Mr. Willingham “had previously performed and was
willing and able to perform again.” (Doc. 18, pp. 4-5).
The Court dismissed Mr. Willingham's RICO claims because
the Court found that “that Mr. Willingham did not plead
facts that would allow the Court to infer that the
defendants' alleged RICO violations were a substantial
factor in the causal chain” that resulted in his
termination. (Doc. 34, p. 6). Because Mr. Willingham alleges
that he worked alongside at least one illegal alien at IC,
and because he alleges that other factors - race and
disability - contributed to his unlawful termination, the
Court was unable to conclude that there was a substantial
causal connection between IC's alleged employment of
illegal aliens and Mr. Willingham's termination. (Doc.
34, pp. 6-8). Mr. Willingham argues that the Court clearly
erred in construing his factual allegations and that he is,
therefore, entitled to relief from the order dismissing his
the interests of finality and conservation of scarce judicial
resources, reconsideration of an order is an extraordinary
remedy and is employed sparingly.” Wallace v.
Holder, 846 F.Supp.2d 1245, 1248 (N.D. Ala. 2012).
Reconsideration is appropriate when there is a “change
in controlling law, ” when new evidence becomes
available, or when a court must correct clear error or
prevent manifest injustice. Wallace, 846 F.Supp.2d
Reinstatement of RICO Claims
Willingham argues that the Court clearly erred when it
concluded that the factual allegations supporting his RICO
claims fail to give rise to an inference of proximate
causation. Mr. Willingham contends that his allegation that
“Defendants fir[ed] Plaintiff, an American, and
retain[ed], and prefer[ed] to retain, at least one illegal
alien” fairly addresses the causation element of his
RICO claims. The Court will assume for purposes of this
motion that Mr. Willingham is correct but still will dismiss
his RICO claims because Mr. Willingham has failed to properly
allege a RICO claim for a separate reason. (Doc. 35, p.
Willingham's RICO allegations fail to state a colorable
RICO claim because there cannot be a RICO conspiracy between
only a company and its employees. See Ray v. Spirit
Airlines, Inc., 836 F.3d 1340 (11th Cir. 2016). To
properly allege a RICO violation, a plaintiff must identify a
RICO enterprise, and the members of an enterprise must be
distinct from one another. Ray, 836 F.3d at 1355-57.
“[A] corporate defendant acting through its officers,
agents, and employees is simply a corporation. Labeling it as
an enterprise as well would only amount to referring to the
corporate 'person' by a different name.”
Ray, 836 F.3d at 1357. Because Mr. Willingham
alleges only that IC conspired with one of its employees, he
has not alleged a valid RICO claim. See Burchfield v.
Indus. Chems., Inc., No. 2:11-CV-2816-RDP, 2012 WL
5872808 (N.D. Ala. Nov. 16, 2012); Danny Lynn Elec. &
Plumbing, LLC v. Veolia ES Solid Waste, No.
2:09CV192-MHT, 2011 WL 2893629, at *2-3 (M.D. Ala. 2011)
(citing cases to support the proposition that “a
corporation and its associated subsidiaries, employees and
agents do not form an enterprise that satisfies the
distinctness requirement under RICO.”).
The Futility of Granting Leave to Amend the
Willingham attached a proposed second amended complaint to
his motion for reconsideration. (Doc. 35-1). Because Mr.
Willingham is outside of the 21-day window for freely
amending his pleading, he may amend if the Court gives him
leave to do so under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
15(a)(2). That rule provides that a district court should
freely give a plaintiff leave to amend his pleadings
“when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
15(a)(2). But a district court may deny a motion to amend
“when (1) there has been undue delay, bad faith,
dilatory motive, or repeated failure to cure deficiencies by
amendments previously allowed; (2) allowing amendment would
cause undue prejudice to the opposing party; or (3) amendment
would be futile.” Lucas v. USAA Cas. Ins. Co.,
716 Fed.Appx. 866, 870 (11th Cir. 2017); see generally
Corsello v. Lincare, Inc., 428 F.3d 1008, 1015 (11th
Cir. 2005) (denying plaintiff's motion to amend because
“[t]he deficiencies of the second amended complaint
remained in the proposed complaint”).
Mr. Willingham's proposed second amended complaint does
not address the deficiencies in his current complaint. (Doc.
35-1, p. 5). ...