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Pride v. United Parcel Services, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

March 22, 2016

ALICIA PRIDE, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC., Defendant

MEMORANDUM OPINION

M. HANNAH LAUCK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant United Parcel Service, Inc.'s ("UPS") Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint ("Second Motion to Dismiss") pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)[1] and based on pro se Plaintiff Alicia Pride's failure to comply with a prior order of this Court.[2] (ECF No. 14.) UPS provided Pride with appropriate Roseboro[3]notice. (Mem. Supp. [Second] Mot. Dismiss ("Def.'s Mem. Supp.") 11, ECF No. 15.) The Court dispenses with oral argument because the materials before the Court adequately present the facts and legal contentions, and argument would not aid the decisional process. This matter is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant UPS's Motion to Dismiss and dismiss the Amended Complaint based on Pride's failure to comply with a prior order of this Court.

I. Legal Standards

A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4Kb)

Courts have "clear authority to dismiss a plaintiffs complaint in appropriate cases." Potter v. SunTrust Bank, No. 3:14cv436, 2015 WL 5098882, at *2 (E.D. Va. Aug. 31, 2015) (citing Link v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S. 626, 629 (1962)), affd, 622 F.App'x 269 (4th Cir. 2015). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b), [4] for instance, "a court may dismiss a plaintiffs claims if he [or she] fails to abide by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or any court order." Id.

Under a Rule 41(b) analysis, the Court must consider the following: "(1) the degree of the plaintiffs personal responsibility for the failure to comply; (2) the prejudice caused to the defendant; (3) the plaintiffs history of deliberately proceeding in a dilatory fashion; and[, ] (4) the availability of a less drastic sanction." Id. (citing Ballard v. Carlson, 882 F.2d 93, 95 (4th Cir. 1989)). But, "[a] district court need not engage in a rigid application of this test... when a litigant has ignored an express warning that failure to comply with an order will result in the dismissal of his [or her] claim." Taylor v. Huffman, No. 95-6380, 1997 WL 407801, at *1 (4th Cir. 1997) (citing Ballard, 882 F.2d at 95-96). Although pro se plaintiffs are generally "entitled to some deference, " such a status does not relieve the plaintiff of his or her duty to abide by the rules and orders of this Court. See Yarid v. Brennan, No. 3:15cv326, 2015 WL 5178940, at *2 (E.D. Va. Sept. 3, 2015) (citing Ballard, 882 F.2d at 96). Ultimately, whether to dismiss a claim for a plaintiffs failure to abide by a court order is within the sound discretion of the court. Potter, 2015 WL 5098882, at *2 (citing Anderson v. Found for Advancement, 155 F.3d 500, 504 (4th Cir. 1998)).

B. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)

"A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint; importantly, it does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Republican Party o/N.C v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (citing 5 A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1356 (1990)). In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a plaintiffs well-pleaded allegations are taken as true and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993); see also Martin, 980 F.2d at 952. This principle applies only to factual allegations, however, and "a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "require[ ] only 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests."' BellAtl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (omission in original) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Plaintiffs cannot satisfy this standard with complaints containing only "labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Id. (citations omitted). Instead, a plaintiff must assert facts that rise above speculation and conceivability to those that "show" a claim that is "plausible on its face." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). "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." Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Therefore, in order for a claim or complaint to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, the plaintiff must "allege facts sufficient to state all the elements of [his or] her claim." Bass v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted).

C. Obligation to Construe Pro Se Complaints Liberally

District courts have a duty to construe pro se pleadings liberally. Bracey v. Buchanan, 55 F.Supp.2d 416, 421 (E.D. Va. 1999). Apro se plaintiff must nevertheless allege "facts that state a cause of action." Id. (citation omitted). The Court cannot act as apro se litigant's "advocate and develop, sua sponte, statutory and constitutional claims" that the litigant failed to raise on the face of the complaint. Newkirk v. Circuit Court of the City of Hampton, No. 3:14cv372, 2014 WL 4072212, at *1 (E.D. Va. Aug. 14, 2014).

II. Procedural and Factual History

A. Procedural History

The Court reviews the procedural history of this case in detail because it frames the evaluation of the Amended Complaint. On February 27, 2015, Pride filed her Complaint against UPS. (ECF No. 1.) The Complaint appeared to allege "harassment, " "retaliation, " "defamation of character/slander, " and other claims in the context of Pride's employment at UPS. (Compl. 3, ECF No. 1.) On May 11, 2015, UPS filed a motion to dismiss the Complaint ("First Motion to Dismiss"). ...


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