United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
K. KALLON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Diego Avila-Zavala brings this employment action against his
former employers and several individuals, asserting claims
under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 2000e et seq. (“Title VII”), Section
1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 as amended, 42 U.S.C.
§ 1981 (“Section 1981”), and Alabama state
law. Doc. 38. This action is currently before the court on
Warrior Investment Co., Inc. (“Warrior”);
Prospect Mining & Development Co., LLC
(“Prospect”); Cordova Resources Management, Inc.
(“Cordova”); and Ronald Bryant's motion to
dismiss. Doc. 44. The motion is fully briefed and ripe for
review, docs. 44 and 45, and is due to be granted in part.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading must
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
“[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not
require ‘detailed factual allegations,' but it
demands more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007)). Mere “labels and conclusions” or
“a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action” are insufficient. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits dismissal when a
complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint
must . . . state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citations
omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). 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). When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6), the court accepts “the allegations in the
complaint as true and construe[s] them in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff.” Hunt v. Aimco Props.,
L.P. 814 F.3d 1213, 1221 (11th Cir. 2016).
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
worked in the Maxine-Pratt Mine, which was jointly operated
by Alaco, LLC (“Alaco”) and the Prospect Mining
Defendants. Doc. 38 at 6-8. While working at the mine,
Zavala's supervisor, Donald Wayne Sexton, sexually
harassed and assaulted him. Id. at 2, 9-10. On two
occasions while Zavala was on a break, Sexton grabbed Zavala
by the hips and made forceful pelvic thrusting motions
against Zavala's body while restricting his movement.
Id. at 9-10. Zavala reported the harassment and
assaults, but the Prospect Mining Defendants and Alaco took
no actions against Sexton. Id. at 2, 8-10. Instead,
they discharged Zavala on November 2, 2016. Id. at
filed charges of discrimination against the Maxine Pratt Mine
and Alaco on November 14, 2016 and December 28, 2016,
asserting that Sexton sexually harassed him in June 2016 and
that discriminatory conduct occurred between June 13, 2016
and November 2, 2016. Docs. 22-1; 22-2. The Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued a right to
sue letter on January 11, 2017. Doc. 8 at 7. Zavala then
filed this action eleven months later, asserting claims
against Sexton, Alaco, David E. Parton, David Parton, Jr.,
Curtis Laws, Warrior, and Bryant for violations of Title VII
and Alabama state law. Doc. 1. Because Title VII does not
provide relief against individuals, see Busby v. City of
Orlando, 931 F.2d 764, 772 (11th Cir. 1991), the court
dismissed Zavala's Title VII claims against the
individual defendants with prejudice. Docs. 14; 35.
Thereafter, the court granted Zavala's motion to amend to
add claims against Prospect and Cordova. Docs. 32 and 37.
Amended Complaint, Zavala asserts claims against the Prospect
Mining Defendants for sex discrimination and sexual
harassment under Title VII, race discrimination and
retaliation under Section 1981, and for the torts of assault
and battery, invasion of privacy, outrage, negligent hiring
and retention, breach of implied contract, negligence and
wantonness, and wrongful discharge. Doc. 38 at 11-22. Zavala
also asserts negligence and wantonness claims against Bryant
individually. Id. The Prospect Mining Defendants and
Bryant have moved to dismiss all claims against them, arguing
that Zavala failed to plead viable claims against them.
Claims Against Bryant
Prospect Mining Defendants and Bryant argue in part that
Zavala failed to plead sufficient facts to support his
negligence and wantonness claims against Bryant. See
doc. 44 at 6-9. To state a cognizable claim for negligence or
wantonness, a plaintiff must allege facts showing that the
defendant breached a duty he owed to the plaintiff. See
e.g., Smith v. AmSouth Bank, Inc., 892 So.2d 905, 909
(Ala. 2004). Zavala's sole factual allegations against
Bryant, the owner or President of Warrior, is that Bryant
“was aware or should have been aware of the sexual
harassment conduct by Sexton but did nothing about it.”
Doc. 38 at 5, 7, 19. See also doc. 8 at 2. However,
Zavala cited no authority recognizing a common law duty for
an individual to address sexual harassment in the workplace,
see doc. 45, and the court is aware of no such
authority. Although the pleadings are insufficient, because
the parties have completed discovery, the court will convert
Bryant's motion to a motion for summary judgment, and
will give Zavala until January 23, 2019 to present any
evidence he believes supports his claims against Bryant.
Bryant's response, if any, is due on January 31, 2019.
Claims against the Prospect Mining Defendants