United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
OWEN BOWDRE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the court on Plaintiff Artavion
Greene's pro se amended complaint. (Doc. 7). Because his
original complaint failed to state a plausible claim for
relief, the court ordered Mr. Greene to file an amended
complaint, described in detail the law that governs his
claims, specifically advised him how to file a complaint that
complies with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and
warned him that the failure to comply with the court's
order could result in the dismissal of his claims.
(See Doc. 4). As further explained below, Mr.
Greene's amended complaint exhibits the same deficiencies
as his original complaint, so the court will sua
sponte (on its own) dismiss his amended complaint.
Greene filed his original complaint on January 28, 2019.
(Doc. 1). In his complaint, he attempted to bring a race
discrimination claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act,
42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and an age
discrimination claim under the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq.,
against his previous employer, Defendant PNS Transportation,
and several employees at PNS. Mr. Greene, who is
African-American and does not allege his age, asserted that
PNS terminated him from his job as a truck driver because of
his race and age after he inquired about a referral bonus.
According to Mr. Greene, his supervisor at PNS told him
“[he] was nothing but a trouble maker, and that is why
[his] black ass don't have a job.” (Doc. 1 at 13).
Judge Cornelius, who was then assigned to this case, found
that Mr. Greene's complaint failed to state a plausible
claim for relief under Title VII or the ADEA. (See
Doc. 4). In her February 13, 2019 Order, Judge Cornelius
discussed how a plaintiff can state a discrimination claim
under Title VII using direct or circumstantial evidence. She
found that Mr. Greene's supervisor's statement about
his “black ass” not having a job was not direct
evidence that PNS terminated him because of his race. And
Judge Cornelius found that Mr. Greene did not identify any
non-African-American employee who PNS treated more favorably
and thus could not state a discrimination claim based on
circumstantial evidence. (See Doc. 4 at 5-8).
Cornelius also informed Mr. Greene that the ADEA prohibits an
employer from discriminating against an employee who is at
least 40 years old because of his age and that a plaintiff
can state an age discrimination claim using direct or
circumstantial evidence. (Doc. 4 at 8). But she found that
Mr. Greene “[made] no allegation regarding his age, any
statement or conduct that would constitute direct evidence he
suffered discrimination based on his age, or any evidence
that would circumstantially prove age-based discrimination,
” and thus failed to state a plausible age
discrimination claim. (Id.)
Cornelius ordered Mr. Greene to file an amended complaint
that corrected the deficiencies she identified. In her Order,
she informed Mr. Greene that the amended complaint must (1)
refer to the statutes he invoked for his claims; (2) comply
with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; (3) be suitable
for service on the defendants; (4) identify each defendant;
(5) describe what each defendant did; (6) state when and
where the incidents underlying his claims occurred; (7)
describe how the defendants' acts harmed him; (8) state
the relief he seeks; (9) not refer back to the original
complaint; and (10) not rely on conclusory and general
assertions of discrimination. (See Doc. 4 at 9-10).
Judge Cornelius advised Mr. Greene that service of process
would not begin until he filed an amended complaint in
compliance with the court's Order and warned him that the
failure to comply with the court's Order could result in
the dismissal of his claims. (Id. at 10).
Sua Sponte Review of the Amended Complaint
Greene filed his amended complaint after the Clerk reassigned
this case to the undersigned judge. In his amended complaint,
he makes the same factual allegations as his original
complaint. He alleges that PNS fired him and then rehired him
as a truck driver in November 2018. Upon his return, he
participated in an orientation conducted by PNS. During the
orientation, he learned that PNS had not paid a referral
bonus to an employee that he referred to PNS; apparently Mr.
Greene believed he was due to receive some of the referral
money. Mr. Greene “said something” about the
referral money to “Scott the owner.” Mr. Greene
then received the truck that he would drive for PNS. While
Mr. Greene was packing the truck with his belongings, he
received a phone call from “Keith, ” who told him
that he was “a trouble maker” and
“that's why your black ass don't have a job
here.” Presumably that same day, PNS terminated Mr.
Greene and did not help him return home. (See Doc. 7
amended complaint, Mr. Greene does not allege any basis for
the court's jurisdiction or identify any law under which
he brings any claim. But, construing his amended complaint
liberally, the court assumes that, as he did in his original
complaint, Mr. Greene seeks to bring claims for race
discrimination under Title VII and age discrimination under
the ADEA. See Tannenbaum v. United States, 148 F.3d
1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998) (“Pro se pleadings
are held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted
by attorneys and will, therefore, be liberally
suits where the plaintiff proceeds in forma pauperis, as Mr.
Greene does here, “the court shall dismiss the case at
any time if the court determines that . . . the action or
appeal . . . fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). So the
court next fulfills its obligation to review sua
sponte (on its own) the merits of the complaint.
court analyzes whether a complaint “fails to state a
claim on which relief may be granted” under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) pursuant to the same standard that
the court utilizes in reviewing a motion to dismiss brought
under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Mitchell v. Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir.
1997). Under this standard, the court will dismiss a
complaint if it does not “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, 570 (2007)). To be
plausible on its face, the complaint must contain enough
“factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
And conclusory allegations and speculation cannot state a
plausible claim for relief. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at
VII prohibits employers from discriminating against an
employee based on race. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). And a
plaintiff may establish a Title VII race discrimination claim
with direct or circumstantial evidence of discrimination.