United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
WALLACE CAPEL, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court is Alutiiq Education & Training,
LLC's (“Alutiiq” or “Defendant”)
Partial Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended
Complaint (Doc. 19). On January 11, 2019, Plaintiff Monisha
Wolf (“Wolf” or “Plaintiff”) filed
her original complaint alleging race and sex discrimination
in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as
amended, 42 U.S.C. §2000e et seq, and
“Mental Suffering and Emotional Distress.”
See Doc. 1. On February 6, 2019, Plaintiff amended
her complaint pursuant to Rule 15(a)(1)(A) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. Doc. 4. Defendant moved to dismiss
the amended complaint. Doc. 5. On May 2, 2019, the Honorable
United States Magistrate Judge Gray M. Borden issued a
Memorandum Opinion and Order (Doc. 17) granting
Defendant's motion to dismiss, but also allowing
Plaintiff to re-plead her claims. Specifically related to the
mental suffering and emotional distress count, the court
found that “[u]pon review of the Amended Complaint, it
appears that Wolf has expressly cited to federal cases
allowing for certain types of damages, but has not pleaded
the elements of a state-law tort claim.” Doc. 17 at 5.
16, 2019, Plaintiff filed her Second Amended Complaint
alleging race discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1981 and mental suffering and emotional distress. Doc. 18.
Defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss Count Two of
the second amended complaint. Doc. 19. Plaintiff filed a
response in opposition (Doc. 21) to which Defendant replied
(Doc. 22). Upon consideration of the pleadings and the
parties' briefs, the court finds that Defendant's
motion to dismiss Plaintiff's mental suffering and
emotional distress claim is due to be GRANTED.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
move to dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to state a
claim upon which relief could be granted pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. “In
deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court must
accept all factual allegations in a complaint as true and
take them in the light most favorable to plaintiff, but
[l]egal conclusions without adequate factual support are
entitled to no assumption of truth.” Dusek v.
JPMorgan Chase & Co., 832 F.3d 1243, 1246 (11th Cir.
2016) (quotations and citations omitted). To state a claim
upon which relief could be granted, a complaint must satisfy
the pleading standard of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil
requires that a plaintiff submit a “short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). In application, the
Rule requires that a plaintiff plead “enough facts to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face,
” in that the well-pleaded factual matter in the
complaint “nudge[s] [the plaintiff's] claims across
the line from conceivable to plausible.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Although
“the pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not
require ‘detailed factual allegations,' . . . it
demands more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Accordingly, the court
may “insist upon some specificity in [the] pleading
before allowing” the complaint to survive a motion to
dismiss. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 558.
adequately state a claim under Rule 8(a) and survive a motion
to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint must
plead sufficient “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. “Where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the
court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct,
the complaint has alleged-but it has not
‘show[n]'-‘that the pleader is entitled to
relief.'” Id. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2)) (citations omitted). Thus, a pleading is
insufficient if it offers only mere “labels and
conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action[.]” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555; see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557) (a complaint does
not suffice under Rule 8(a) “if it tenders ‘naked
assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual
enhancement.'”). In other words, to survive a
motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), “a plaintiff [must]
include factual allegations for each essential element of his
or her claim.” GeorgiaCarry.Org., Inc. v.
Georgia, 687 F.3d 1244, 1254 (11th Cir. 2012).
assessing the sufficiency of the complaint, a reviewing court
is to look at the complaint as a whole, considering whether
all of the facts alleged raise a claim that is plausible on
its face. See Speaker v. U.S. Dep't of Health &
Human Servs. Ctrs. for Disease Control and Prevention,
623 F.3d 1371, 1382 (11th Cir. 2010). Thus, the court reads
the complaint “holistically, ” taking into
account all relevant context. El-Saba v. Univ. of S.
Ala., Civ. No. 15-87-KD-N, 2015 WL 5849747, at *15 (S.D.
Ala. Sept. 22, 2015) (citing Garayalde-Rios v.
Municipality of Carolina, 747 F.3d 15, 25 (1st Cir.
2014)). As such, “[d]etermining whether a complaint
states a plausible claim for relief [is] a context-specific
task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its
judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 679.
move to dismiss Plaintiff's mental suffering and
emotional distress claim, arguing that Plaintiff has failed
to state any claim upon which relief could be granted. Doc.
19 at 1. Defendant argues that “Count Two of the Second
Amended Complaint is titled only Mental Suffering and
Emotional Distress. However, just as with the First Amended
Complaint, this claim is merely a recitation of damages
allegedly suffered by the plaintiff, not a recitation of a
separate state law tort claim.” Doc. 19 at 2-3.
Plaintiff asserts that Defendant failed to cite “legal
authority prohibiting an independent cause of action for
Mental Suffering and Emotional Distress.” Doc. 21 at 4.
Plaintiff further asserts that the Alabama Supreme Court
“recognizes an independent cause of action for
Infliction of Emotional Distress as ruled in American
Road Service v. Imon, 394 So.2d 361 (Ala. 1980).”
Doc. 21 at 4.
Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint, she re-alleges an
identical set of facts to support her claim for mental
suffering and emotional distress as she did in her First
Amended Complaint. Doc. 18 at 6-7. The Court already
cautioned Plaintiff that “[u]pon review of the Amended
Complaint, it appears that Wolf has expressly cited to
federal cases allowing for certain types of damages, but has
not pleaded the elements of a state-law tort claim.”
Doc. 17 at 5. The only portion of Count Two that differs from
its predecessor is the string cite to case law, in which
Plaintiff now cites to Alabama case law rather than federal
case law as directed. See Doc. 18 at 7. However,
Plaintiff has still failed to remedy the primary issue
previously addressed by the Court -- the failure to plead the
elements of a state-law tort claim.
Court has reviewed the six Supreme Court of Alabama cases
cited in Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint. See
Orkin Exterminating Co. v. Jeter, 832 So.2d 25 (Ala.
2001); Oliver v. Towns, 770 So.2d 1059 (Ala. 2000);
Delchamps v. Bryant, 738 So.2d 824 (Ala. 1999);
Sperau v. Ford Motor Co., 674 So.2d 24 (Ala. 1995),
vacated on other grounds, 517 U.S. 1217 (1996),
on remand, 708 So.2d 111 (Ala. 1997); Crown Life
Ins. Co. v. Smith, 657 So.2d 821 (Ala. 1994); and
Sears, Roebuck Co. v. Harris, 630 So.2d 1018 (Ala.
1993). As Defendant correctly asserts, the cases cited by
Plaintiff all discuss mental suffering and emotional distress
in relation to damage awards, not as an independent cause of
action. Plaintiff has failed to cite a single case, nor can
the Court find one, that supports her position that Alabama
recognizes mental suffering and emotional distress as a
cognizable state law tort claim. However, it should be noted
that the Plaintiff has properly pled emotional distress and
mental anguish as damages within her prayer for relief. Doc.
18 at 7.
Plaintiff's response, for the first time, she asserts
that “Alabama Supreme Court recognizes an independent
cause of action for Infliction of Emotional Distress”
and that her Second Amended Complaint “clearly falls in
line with this independent state cause of action.” Doc.
21 at 4-5. While Plaintiff is correct, Alabama does recognize
the state law tort claim of Intentional Infliction ...