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Taylor v. Ahold

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia

January 23, 2017

JACQUELINE LENORLIA TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
ROYAL AHOLD NV, KONINKIJIJKE AHOLD (AHony) AHOLD USA/GIANT MARTINS FOOD & PHARMACY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Robert E. Payne Senior United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT BY DEFENDANT GIANT FOOD STORES, LLC FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM UPON WHICH RELIEF MAY BE GRANTED (ECF No. 5) filed by Defendant Royal Ahold NV Koninkijke Ahold ("Ahony") Ahold USA/Giant Martins Food & Pharmacy's Motion to ("Giant Food Stores"). For the reasons stated below, the motion will be granted and this action will be dismissed with prejudice.

         INTRODUCTION

         The Complaint filed by Jacqueline Lenorlia Taylor (ECF No. 3), even when read generously, presents largely incomprehensible assertions and no cognizable claims. Thus, even liberally construed as required by precedent, the Complaint lacks coherence. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). The level of incoherence is such that this case could be dismissed as containing only "fanciful factual allegation [s], " making it frivolous under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d). See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989) P§ 1915(d) 's term "frivolous, " when applied to a complaint, embraces not only the inarguable legal conclusion, but also the fanciful factual allegation.") Nevertheless, the Defendant has responded to the perceived substance of the Complaint in its motion to dismiss (ECF No. 5), and its construction of the Complaint is not an unreasonable one. Adopting the liberal construction used by the Defendant, the Complaint nonetheless fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Therefore, the Defendant's motion will be granted.

         DISCUSSION

         By its own terms, the Complaint alleges (1) violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(a) et seq. ; (2) violation of Title VI, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(d); (3) violation of the Pennsylvania and Massachusetts Constitutions; (4) violation of the Virginia Human Rights Act, Va. Code § 2.2-3900 et. seq.; (5) violation of the Defendant company's internal ethics policy; (6) violation of the Defendant company's internal policy against retaliation; and (7) violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Read liberally, the complaint also may be read to assert state law claims for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and assault. All of these claims or potential claims are legally defective.

         A. Count I: Title II, Title VI, and the Fourteenth Amendment

         Taylor's first claim seeks to recover damages under "Title II and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and 1964 (Public Accommodations Act) 42 USC 2000 (A) (B) . et al., and The [sic] Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States." (Complaint 6) . Even liberally read, Count I of the Complaint fails plausibly to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         Title II

         To establishes a prima facie case of Title II public accommodation discrimination, Taylor must show that she: (1) is a member of a protected class; (2) attempted to exercise the right to full benefits and enjoyment of a place of public accommodation; (3) was denied those benefits and enjoyment; and (4) was treated less favorably than similarly situated persons who are not members of the protected class. Additionally, only injunctive relief is available under the act. Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises, Inc., 390 U.S. 400, 402 (1968)("When a plaintiff brings an action under that Title, he cannot recover damages.")

         Plaintiff fails to plausibly state a prima facie case under Title II. Although she contends that she was discriminated and harassed "on the basis of race color, sex/sexual orientation, social and financial statuses[, and] more explicitly those who are homeless and unemployed, " her complaint fails to plausibly allege that the Defendant was responsible for this discrimination, and otherwise alleges facts so "fanciful" that they are "frivolous" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1915(d).[1]Moreover, the Complaint avers that the alleged treatment was "retaliation against the Plaintiff for her filing numerous discrimination, stalking, and sexually offensive/harassing [sic], complaints with Defendants Corporate Customer Service Department." (Compl. ¶26). By her own admission, therefore, the Defendant's conduct was motivated by the "numerous" complaints she filed with customer service, and not because of Taylor's race.

         The Title II charge is further deficient because the conduct alleged in the Complaint has not been plausibly connected any actual person or employee associated with the Defendant. Taylor claims that she received "several death threats and sexual assaults" and "was told that she was not welcome in Defendant's place of accommodation, " but cannot identify who allegedly said any of these things. (Compl. ¶20) . In her Complaint, Taylor offers only the incomprehensible statement that "Defendant did so in an unidentifiable manner by disclosing his presence." Id. Even in her reply, which purported to respond to the Defendant's argument that it was not tied to any of the alleged conduct, Taylor could offer only that "some of the threat [sic] and warnings were intermeshed with the voices which sounded alike [sic] the voices of two of the Defendant's male Managers, and some of Defendant's first and second shift employees and workers in other accommodations within the vicinity where I routinely reside." (Pi. Reply at 10). These statements do not plausibly connect any of the alleged conduct to the Defendant. Thus, Taylor's Title II claim must be dismissed.

         Title VI

          Title VI provides that "[n]o person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. 42 U.S.C. § 2000d. The two elements of Title VI that must be pled are therefore (1) that the Defendant engages in racial discrimination, and ...


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