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Lightfoot v. Richmond Public Schools

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

August 11, 2017

FERNANDO LIGHTFOOT, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHMOND PUBLIC SCHOOLS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Robert E. Payne, Senior United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on DEFENDANT DAVID HUDSONS'S MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF No. 27). For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be granted.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Fernando Lightfoot ("Lightfoot") filed the COMPLAINT (ECF No. 1) on November 14, 2016. Lightfoot alleged several claims against several individuals affiliated with Linwood Holton Elementary School.

         The parties in this case previously attended an initial pretrial conference on April 19, 2017. Based on the Court's review of the COMPLAINT (ECF No. 2), DEFENDANT DAVID HUDSON'S MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF No. 7), the MOTION TO DISMISS[1] (ECF No.12), and the supporting and opposing memoranda, the Court determined that the Complaint did not adequately set forth which claims were presented against which defendants nor did the Complaint set forth plausible claims within the meaning of Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 550 U.S. 662 (2009). Therefore, the Court granted the motions to dismiss, and dismissed the Complaint in its entirety without prejudice.

         Lightfoot filed an AMENDED COMPLAINT (ECF No. 23) on May 10, 2017. The Amended Complaint names the following individuals as defendants[2]: Richmond Public Schools ("RPS")[3], Dana T. Bedden ("Bedden"), individually, and David Hudson, individually. The Amended Complaint sets forth six claims. COUNT 1 asserts a violation of Title VII, and, although it is described as "Hudson's Sexual Harassment of Lightfoot, " the count is alleged only against RPS. (AC, ¶ 23). COUNT 2 asserts a violation of Title VII, and, although it is described as "Hudson's Retaliation Against Lightfoot Because He Rejected Hudson's Sexual Overtures, " it is alleged only against RPS. (AC, ¶ 31). COUNT 3 asserts a violation of Title VII, and, although it is described as "Retaliation Hudson Recommends Nonrenewal of Lightfoot's Assistant Principal Position, " it is only alleged against RPS. (AC, ¶ 36) . COUNT 4 asserts a claim against Hudson for Hudson's Tortious Interference with Lightfoot's Employment Contract. COUNT 5, alleged against RPS and Bedden, challenges Bedden's Decision to Nonrenew Lightfoot's Contract as a violation of Lightfoot's Due Process Rights. COUNT 6, also alleged against RPS and Bedden, asserts Bedden's Failure to Give Lightfoot an Opportunity to Respond as a denial of Lightfoot's Procedural Due Process Rights.

         The general language in Hudson's motion to dismiss reads as if the Amended Complaint asserts more than one claim against Hudson. However, Hudson's brief only seeks dismissal of COUNT 4, the Tortious Interference by Hudson with Lightfoot's Employment Contract which is the only claim against Hudson.[4] In deciding the motion to dismiss, the facts, as alleged, must be taken as true.

         FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

         The Amended Complaint alleges that, in the summer of 2014, Lightfoot worked as a school counselor for the Richmond Public School ("RPS") . (AC, ¶ 12) . Hudson was, and remains, the Principal of Linwood Holton Elementary School. .Id. at ¶ 11. In the summer of 2014, during a track meet, Hudson approached Lightfoot and stated that Lightfoot looked familiar. Id. "Lightfoot told Hudson that he was currently seeking an administrative position and Hudson responded that he was seeking to appoint an assistant principal at Holton Elementary and that Lightfoot should send him his resume." Id. at ¶ 14. "Hudson told Lightfoot that his lack of experience and training did not matter to him because he would mentor and teach him everything that he needed to know and that he would develop Lightfoot into a principal in two to three years.” Id. at ¶ 17.

         Hudson subsequently recommended to Anthony Leonard ("Leonard"), the Assistant Superintendent of RPS, and Dana T. Bedden ("Bedden"), the Superintendent of RPS, that Lightfoot be considered for the position of assistant principal at Holton Elementary. Id. at ¶ 19. "Leonard and Bedden did not agree with Hudson's request pointing out to Hudson that Lightfoot lacked classroom and supervisory experience during his employment with RPS." Id. at ¶ 20. "Hudson was resolute and insistent . . . [and] Bedden and Leonard reluctantly approved the appointment." Id. at ¶¶ 21-22.

         "During the first week of September 2014, which was at the start of the 2014-2015 school year", Lightfoot noticed "Hudson was intently gazing at his crotch." Id. at ¶ 24. Hudson said to Lightfoot, "I have expensive taste -[sic] you need to take me to the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC." Id. at ¶ 25. Lightfoot decided not to respond to Hudson's sexually suggestive comment, for fear that "any response would have jeopardized his position." Id. at ¶ 27. Lightfoot alleges that Hudson made at least ten or more sexually suggestive comments to him after the first incident, "such as, 'when are you going to take me to dinner?'" Id. at ¶ 29.

         "When it became clear to Hudson that Lightfoot was not interested in his sexual overtures, Hudson began a campaign to punish Lightfoot's rejection of his sexual overtures which created for Lightfoot a hostile work environment." Id. at ¶ 33. "In the last week of August, 2014, Hudson gave Lightfoot a list of items to complete but did not specify the time in which he expected the list to be completed." Id. at ¶ 36(a). When Lightfoot did not finish the tasks by the next week, "Hudson responded that he felt that a week was ample time to complete the list. When Lightfoot explained that he needed more time and help to complete the list, Hudson replied, "I can't evaluate you if I don't know what you can do." Id. at ¶ 36(c). In November of 2014, Lightfoot asked Hudson for help regarding a science museum field trip but "Hudson refused and told Lightfoot that he, Hudson, needed to see what he, Lightfoot, could do." Id. at ¶ 36(e). On another occasions, Hudson told Lightfoot "to revise the cafeteria schedule and rearrange the cafeteria tables and adjust the lunch times." Id. at ¶ 36(f). Because of his short tenure in his position, Lightfoot did not know the details to complete this task and "Hudson offered Lightfoot no assistance with regard to this task." Id.

         On February 9, 2015, Hudson delivered a letter to Lightfoot, regarding an "IEP" meeting on February 4, 2015 "which Lightfoot inadvertently failed to attend because he was at the University of Richmond attending a Leadership Academy meeting." (AC, ¶ 37). The letter indicated that Hudson was concerned about Lightfoot's performance as assistant principal. Id.

         In response to the letter, Lightfoot requested a meeting with Leonard in order to "advise him of Hudson's treatment and to seek his advice." Id. at ¶ 38. Lightwood did not reveal to Leonard the alleged harassment by Hudson but instead described the "other" treatment by Hudson. Id. at ¶ 41. Leonard advised Lightfoot that Hudson had already spoken with him prior to the meeting and Hudson told Leonard about Lightfoot missing the IEP meeting. Id. at ΒΆ 40. Leonard subsequently called Hudson and explained that "Hudson had ...


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