United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
CORTNEY R. HAWKINS, Plaintiff,
HOLY FAMILY CRISTO REY CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
ANNEMARIE CARNEY AXON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
employment discrimination case, Plaintiff Cortney R. Hawkins
alleges that Defendant Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High
School (“Holy Family”) discriminated against her
because of her race and gender, and retaliated against her
for reporting student complaints to school administrators.
Ms. Hawkins asserts claims against Holy Family under Title
VII and Title VI for retaliation, race discrimination, and
sex discrimination and § 1981 for race discrimination.
case is before the court on Holy Family's motion to
dismiss Ms. Hawkins's second amended complaint (doc. 26),
Ms. Hawkins's motion for leave to file a third amended
complaint (doc. 34), and Ms. Hawkins's motion for leave
to file a sur-reply (doc. 35). For the reasons explained
below, and with the benefit of oral argument, the court
GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN
PART Holy Family's motion to dismiss,
DENIES Ms. Hawkins's motion for leave to
amend, and GRANTS Ms. Hawkins's motion
for leave to file a sur-reply.
Motion to Dismiss
Standard of Review
to Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must contain “a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule
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).
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). A plausible claim for
relief requires “enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable
expectation that discovery will reveal evidence” to
support the claim. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.
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)).
Factual Background and Procedural History
in the light most favorable to Ms. Hawkins, the facts alleged
in the second amended complaint are as follows. Ms. Hawkins
is a 28-year old African-American female. (Doc. 23 at ¶
7). From July 2016 until March 8, 2018, Ms. Hawkins taught
9th and 10th grade English and 11th and 12th grade
African-American History at Holy Family. (Id. at
¶ 8). Holy Family Principal Cheryl Kuyk and Holy Family
President Father Jon Chalmers supervised Ms. Hawkins while
she was employed by the school. (Id. at ¶ 9).
Hawkins reported student complaints regarding inappropriate
comments and disparate punishment of female students to her
supervisors on three separate occasions. (Id. at
¶¶ 10, 11, 13). In September 2017, an
African-American female student approached Ms. Hawkins about
“inappropriate comments and disparate treatment in
disciplining female students versus male students.”
(Doc. 23 at ¶ 10). Ms. Hawkins reported to Father
Chalmers and Ms. Kuyk the student's concerns about the
“perception of discriminative treatment of female
students.” (Id. at ¶ 10).
November 2017, L.W., an African-American female student, and
several other female students approached Ms. Hawkins and
“reported their discontent with their Science teacher,
Charles Prib[yl],  a Caucasian man, and the inappropriate
comments he [made].” (Doc. 23 at ¶ 11). L.W. told
Ms. Hawkins that she (L.W.) was uncomfortable around Mr.
Pribyl. (Id. at ¶ 11). Ms. Hawkins reported
L.W.'s concerns to Father Chalmers and Ms. Kuyk, and
later, to the State of Alabama Department of Human Resources.
(Id. at ¶¶ 11, 12).
January 4, 2018, a male student, K.D.M., told Ms. Hawkins
that he too was uncomfortable with Mr. Pribyl. (Doc. 23 at
¶ 13). Ms. Hawkins reported K.D.M.'s concern to
Father Chalmers and Ms. Kuyk. (Id.).
March 8, 2018, Holy Family terminated Ms. Hawkins's
employment for wearing a hooded jacket in class in violation
of the school's dress code for teachers. (Id. at
¶ 14). According to Ms. Hawkins, white teachers wore
jackets or coats with hoods. (Doc. 23 at ¶14). The white
teachers were not reprimanded or fired for dress code
violations. (Id. at ¶ 24).
on these allegations Ms. Hawkins sued Holy Family. Her second
amended complaint asserts the following claims: Title VII and
Title VI Retaliation (Count I); Race Discrimination (Count
II); and Sex Discrimination (Count III). (Doc. 23). Holy
Family filed a motion to dismiss Ms. Hawkins's second
amended complaint. (Doc. 26). After the parties fully briefed
the motion (see doc. 29; doc. 30), Ms. Hawkins filed
a motion for leave to file a third amended complaint (doc.
34). On November 28, 2018, the court held a hearing on the
motions. After the hearing, Ms. Hawkins filed a
motion for leave to file a sur-reply. (Doc. 35). Although
briefing on Holy Family's motion to dismiss closed more
than two months ago, the court reluctantly
GRANTS Ms. Hawkins's motion to file a
Family moves to dismiss Ms. Hawkins's claims on both
procedural and substantive grounds. (See Doc. 26;
Doc. 30). Procedurally, Holy Family asks the court to dismiss
Ms. Hawkins's second amended complaint because it is an
improper shotgun pleading. (Doc. 26 at 13-15; Doc. 30 at
3-4). Also procedurally, Holy Family asks the court to
dismiss Ms. Hawkins's Title VII retaliation, race
discrimination, and sex discrimination claims as abandoned
because Ms. Hawkins did not address these claims in her
response brief. (Doc. 30 at 2). Substantively, Holy Family
argues that Ms. Hawkins's factual allegations do not
plausibly state claims for relief. (Doc. 26 at 5-13; Doc. 30
at 4-6). The court addresses each argument in turn.
court may dismiss shotgun pleadings that violate either Rule
8(a)(2) or Rule 10(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Weiland v. Palm Beach Cty. Sheriff's
Office, 792 F.3d 1313, 1320 (11th Cir. 2015). Ms.
Hawkins's second amended complaint is a shotgun pleading
because it “contain[s] multiple counts where each count
adopts the allegations of the preceding counts, causing each
successive count to carry all that came before and the last
count to be a combination of the entire complaint.”
Weiland, 792 F.3d at 1321; see Doc. 23 at
¶¶ 15, 23, 27. Ms. Hawkins's second amended
complaint also is a shotgun pleading because it does
“not separate[e] into a different count each cause of
action or claim for relief.” Weilan ...