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Blaise v. Harris

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

August 11, 2016

DIE K. BLAISE, Plaintiff,
v.
SANDRA HARRIS, and VIBRA HOSPITAL OF RICHMOND, LLC Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Robert E. Payne Senior United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' MOTION TO DISMISS (Docket No. 10). For the reasons stated below, Defendants' MOTION TO DISMISS will be granted. (Docket No. 10).

         BACKGROUND

         The Complaint states that Die K. Blaise ("Blaise") was a pharmacist at Vibra Hospital of Richmond, LLC ("Vibra") beginning on May 20, 2013. (Compl. 1). On September 1, 2013, Vibra replaced its pharmacy entry system. (Compl. 2). Blaise states that all pharmacists other than himself were trained extensively in the new system, and that, as a result of Blaise's abbreviated training, "it took a little[] longer to process some medication orders" using the new system. (Compl. 3). The training program notwithstanding, "[m]edication errors [were] a system wide issue" after the system switch. (Compl. 3). During the transition to the new system, the Director of Pharmacy, Dr. Sandra Harris ("Harris") began to schedule other pharmacists more frequently and to schedule Blaise less frequently. (Compl. 3).

         On December 18, 2013, Blaise's employment was terminated for "medication errors." (Compl. 1-2). Blaise states that these "medication errors" were fabricated by Harris to "terminate [Blaise's] position as a pharmacist" and "to dilute a discrimination case" (Compl. 2), and that any medication errors that did occur also occurred for other pharmacists who were not fired. (Compl. 2-3).

         At an unspecified point, Harris filed a complaint with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy based on Blaise's performance at Vibra. (Compl. 2) . The Board of Pharmacy notified Blaise of Harris's complaint on February 27, 2015. (Compl. 2). Blaise states that he was never accused of patient safety concerns while at Vibra. (Compl. 2).

         On August 4, 2015, Blaise filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. The Complaint states that the EEOC issued a Right to Sue notice on December 28, 2015. (Compl. 2).[1]

         On January 12, 2016, Blaise filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and a proposed Complaint. (Docket No. 1) . On March 17, 2016, Blaise paid the civil filing fee (Docket No. 4) and filed his Complaint (Docket No. 5).

         The Complaint alleges four claims, titled "Harassments, " "Race, Color, and National Origin, " "Disability, " and "Vibra Hospital of Richmond Violates its own policy." (Compl. ¶ 3-4).

         Harris and Vibra (collectively "Defendants") filed this motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (Docket No. 10) on several grounds, including that all claims are time-barred, that Blaise has not pled membership in a protected class, and that Harris is not liable in her individual capacity. (Def.'s Mem. in Supp. of Def.'s Mtn. to Dismiss, Docket No. 11) ("Def.'s Mem.").

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Pro Se Litigants Are Entitled to Liberal Construction

         As a threshold matter, the Court recognizes that Blaise's pro se status entitles his pleadings to a liberal construction. See, e.g., Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citations omitted); Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). Nevertheless, "[e]ven pro se plaintiffs must recognize Rule 8's vision for 'a system of simplified pleadings that give notice of the general claim asserted, allow for the preparation of a basic defense, narrow the issues to be litigated, and provide a means for quick dispositions of sham claims." Sewraz v. Guice, 2008 WL 3926443, at *2 (E.D. Va. Aug. 26, 2008) (quoting Prezzi v. Berzak, 57 F.R.D. 149, 151 (S.D.N.Y. 1972)). The requirement of liberal construction *does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim cognizable in a federal district court. Skelton v. EPA, 2009 WL 2191981, at *2 (D.S.C. July 16, 2009} (citing Weller v. Dept. of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990)). Finally, the basic pleading standards set by Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) that foreclose conclusory, factually unsupported claims apply to pro se litigants.

         B. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)

         A motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) challenges the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Jordan v. Alternative Resources Corp., 458 F.3d 332, 338 (4th Cir.2006). Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) "requires 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." McCleary-Evans v. Maryland Dep't of Transp., State Highway Admin., 780 F.3d 582, 585 (4th Cir. 2015) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         When deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court must "draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff." Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v. Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 253 (4th Cir. 2009). However, while the court must "will accept the pleader's description of what happened" and "any conclusions that can be reasonably drawn therefrom, " the court "need not accept conclusory allegations encompassing the legal effects of the pleaded facts, " Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1357 (3d ed.1998); Chamblee v. Old Dominion Sec. Co., L.L.C., No. 3:13CV820, 2014 WL 1415095, *4 (E.D. Va. 2014). Nor is the court required to accept as true a legal conclusion unsupported by factual allegations. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79. "Twombly and Iqbal also made clear that the analytical approach for evaluating Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss requires courts to reject conclusory allegations that amount to mere formulaic recitation of the elements of a claim and to conduct a context-specific analysis to determine whether the well-pleaded factual allegations plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief." Wright & Miller, supra; Chamblee, supra.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Harassment

         The first count, labeled "Harassment, " alleges that Blaise's supervisor, Harris,

made my work environment so uncomfortable and hostile that [I] was prone to mistake. Harassments include offensive remarks and frequent phone calls in respect to overtime . . . Harris regularly . . . asked me to leave at the end of my shift regardless of the workload to be completed. This cause[d] me to rush to complete the daily tasks and result[ed] in unsafe patient care ... [Harris] ...

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