United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
K. DUBOSE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Rule 12(c)
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. 24) and
Plaintiffs' Response (Docs. 29, 30).
August 25, 2017, pro se Plaintiff Ronald Jackson
(Jackson) initiated this action against Defendant Double Back
Transportation (DBT) for: 1) discrimination regarding
"race, sex, [and] retaliation" related to his
discharge/termination and for failure to promote; and 2) a
claim alleging "operate unsafe vehicles." (Doc. 1).
On September 14, 2018, DBT filed a one sentence Answer
stating that it "denies each and every material
allegation of the Complaint and demands strict proof
thereof" and asserting one affirmative defense that
"the Complaint fails to state a viable claim for relief
can be granted under applicable law." (Doc. 19).
alleged, Jackson was employed by DBT from January-May 2017
and was discriminated against by DBT employees "Becky
Pilkington," "Jamie," and "Brent
Boutwell" during his employment. (Doc. 1 at 2, 5-6).
Jackson references -- in his Complaint and attached letter
(as well as supplemented by his Response) -- the following
discriminatory events: April 11, 2017 (DBT's claimed use
of a company vehicle by him "without permission,"
which resulted in disciplinary action on April 19, 2017;
April 22, 2017 (being pressured to sign a disciplinary action
document and feeling harassed); May 3, 2017 (sexual
harassment during a safety meeting); May 22, 2017 (notifying
DBT about safety issues with a truck and declining to drive
until deemed safe) and then being "scheduled off"
on May 23 and May 25, 2017; and being terminated on May 24,
2017. (Docs. 1, 29). Jackson also alleges that DBT told him
that it would not "make him permanent" on April 19,
2017, though it had promised such. (Doc. 1 at 5).
alleged, on May 23, 2017 the Plaintiff filed a Charge of
Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Center
(EEOC) against DBT alleging the same and/or similar
allegations as the Complaint. On June 20, 2017 the Plaintiff
filed another EEOC Charge of Discrimination against DBT
alleging the same and/or similar allegations as the
Complaint. Both EEOC charges were investigated and written
notices of dismissal were issued. On August 23, 2017,
Plaintiff filed an OSHA complaint with the U.S. Department of
Labor regarding his termination, which was investigated with
a written notice of findings on August 29, 2017. On September
14, 2018, Plaintiff appealed, and his OSHA appeal was granted
on October 17, 2018.
the filing of the Complaint and answer, the pleadings are
closed. Lillian B. ex rel. Brown v. Gwinnett Cty. Sch.
Dist., 631 Fed.Appx. 851, 853 (11th Cir.
2015) (pleadings are closed for purposes of Rule 12(c)
“when a complaint and answer have been filed”).
Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
provides that “[a]fter the pleadings are closed--but
early enough not to delay trial--a party may move for
judgment on the pleadings.” Such a judgment "is
appropriate when there are no material facts in dispute, and
judgment may be rendered by considering the substance of the
pleadings and any judicially noticed facts….As with a
motion to dismiss, the Court accepts all of the allegations
in the complaint as true and construes them in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party." Medicomp, Inc. v.
United Healthcare Ins. Co., 562 Fed.Appx. 754, 756
(11th Cir. 2014). Indeed, Rule 12(c) motions are
evaluated as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim: "[t]o avoid dismissal, a plaintiff must
plead sufficient facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." Shedd v. Wells Fargo Bank,
N.A., 2016 WL 3264127, *2 (S.D. Ala. Jun. 13, 2016).
"If a comparison of the averments in the competing
pleadings reveals a material dispute of fact, judgment on the
pleadings must be denied.” Perez v. Wells Fargo,
N.A., 774 F.3d 1329, 1335 (11th Cir. 2014).
pro se plaintiffs are entitled to a liberal
construction of their pleadings. Dinardo v. Palm Beach
Cty. Circuit Court Judge, 199 Fed.Appx. 731, 734-735
(11th Cir. 2006) (citing Tannenbaum v. United
States, 148 F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998)
(explaining that “[p]ro se pleadings are held to a less
stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys and
will, therefore, be liberally construed”).
Additionally, it is well established that a plaintiff (and
especially a pro se plaintiff) should be afforded at
least one opportunity to amend her pleadings if a more
carefully drafted complaint might state a claim upon which
relief can be drafted. Bryant v. Dupree, 252 F.3d
1161, 1163 (11th Cir. 2001) (“Generally,
where a more carefully drafted complaint might state a claim,
a plaintiff must be given at least one chance to amend the
complaint before the district court dismisses the action with
prejudice”) (citation omitted).
summarily contends that Jackson's pro se
complaint is due to be dismissed because it fails to state a
prima facie case of discrimination -- i.e., fails to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. In response, and in
addition to his complaint with attached letter (Doc. 1),
Jackson generally asserts that he is a member of a protected
group, who was subjected to an adverse employment action, and
that discrimination was the likely reason for same. (Doc. 30
review of the record indicates that Plaintiff is proceeding
pro se, and that his Complaint is neither a model of
clarity nor specificity. It is indeed even unclear as to
whether Jackson alleges federal discrimination claims as well
as an OSHA claim. Even so, upon consideration, the Court
finds that Jackson should have "at least one
opportunity" to substantively amend the complaint, as
once amended. Matters for clarification which Jackson should
incorporate in an amended complaint include (but are not
limited to) the following:
1) whether he is alleging discrimination claims for race,
sex, and retaliation, and if so, specifics related to each
claim, including how his race or sex was the basis of the
2) whether he is alleging discriminatory failure to promote,
termination/discharge, and discipline, and if so, specifics
related to each claim; and
3) whether he is alleging a hostile work environment claim,
and if so, specifics related to the claim.
it is ORDERED that Defendants' Rule
12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings (Doc. 24) is
DENIED. It is further
ORDERED that Plaintiff is GRANTED
LEAVE to file, on or before February 5,
2019, an amended complaint, to address the
deficiencies identified by DBT in the Rule 12(c) motion and
the matters for clarification as listed by the Court.
Clerk is DIRECTED to mail a copy of the
Pro Se Litigant Guide to ...