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Motley v. Commonwealth

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

March 26, 2018

VICTOR MOTLEY, SR., Plaintiff,



         This matter comes before the Court on Defendants Commonwealth of Virginia and Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services's ("DMAS") (collectively, "Defendants") Motion to Dismiss.[1] (ECF No. 14.) Plaintiff Victor Motley, Sr., proceeding pro se, responded and Defendants replied. (ECF Nos. 16, 17.) Accordingly, the matter is ripe for disposition. The Court dispenses with oral argument because the materials before it adequately present the facts and legal contentions, and argument would not aid the decisional process. The Court exercises jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.[2] For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the Motion to Dismiss.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         A. Procedural Background

         On November 6, 2015, Motley filed a Motion for Judgment in state court, alleging two counts against the Defendants: (1) age and race discrimination; and, (2) negligence. On July 15, 2016, Defendants removed the case to this Court. Following removal, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss, which the Court granted, dismissing the Complaint and granting Motley leave to file an amended complaint as to his age and race discrimination claims. On April 5, 2017, Motley filed an Amended Complaint, alleging two counts against Defendants: (1) age discrimination under the ADEA ("Count I"); and, (2) race discrimination under Title VII ("Count II"). Shortly thereafter, Defendants filed the Motion to Dismiss[3] pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)[4] and 12(b)(6).[5]

         B. Summary of Allegations in the Amended Complaint[6]

         Motley's Amended Complaint is not a model of clarity.[7] His claims appear to arise out of an unsuccessful application for a job at DMAS. The Amended Complaint does not specify the position for which he applied, but includes a quoted portion of the job notice, which read: "Prefer degree in law, public administration, social work, mental health/mental retardation, and/or experience as an attorney, administrative hearing officer, eligibility worker/specialist, or the equivalent combination of education and experience." (Am. Compl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 13.) Motley contends that a Juris Doctorate ("J.D.") constituted a specific material qualification for the position. Motley, who is African-American and was sixty at the time of his application, was not hired. DMAS filled the position with an individual who was "substantially younger, " was Accordingly, the Court will deny Motley's Motion to Strike, (ECF No. 18), and grant Defendants' First and Amended Motions for Extension, (ECF Nos. 20, 21). Nonetheless, the Court admonishes Defendants to adhere to filing deadlines. "outside the protected class [of race], " did not have a J.D., and "was treated more favorably." (Am. Compl.¶ 14, 20.)

         Motley alleges that the "Agency"-presumably DMAS-"stated"[8] that he "has no Medicaid or health care experience, did not have experience in analytical writing, and did not demonstrate that he possessed any experience in interviewing individuals to obtain financial, legal and/or medication information, " and that "[a]ccording to his employment application, Mr. Motley does not possess a JD." (Am. Compl. ¶ 4.) Motley, however, does have a J.D. and he had worked as a "self employed [sic] attorney in Virginia from May 1982 through Dec. 2000, over 18 years and had tried civil and criminal cases in State and Federal Courts, Legal research and writing and Oral presentation." (Am. Compl. ¶ 5.) Motley included this information, as well as his resume, which detailed with other unspecified "significant material qualifications, " in his application for the position at DMAS. (Am. Compl. ¶ 5.) Motley contends that he was qualified for the position and possessed the "Preferred Qualifications, " including a J.D., (Am. Compl. ¶ 9), and that DMAS's statement that he "does not possess a JD" was false, (Am. Compl. ¶6).

         Regarding his age discrimination claim, Motley avers that, "[r]eviews of the Virginia Retirement System indicate that with the number of workers eligible to retire in the next five (5) years, they are under funded, [sic] making age and current state employment relevant to employment." (Am. Compl. ¶ 13.)

         Motley refers to an "EEOC charge" and a "Dismissal Notice of Rights" but does not attach a Dismissal and Notice of Right to Sue letter to his Amended Complaint. (Am. Compl. ¶ 2.) Motley seeks $20, 000, 000 and costs.

         II. Analysis: The Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim

         The Defendants' Motion to Dismiss seeks to dismiss the Amended Complaint, inter alia, for failure to state a claim.[9] The Court will dismiss the Amended Complaint because Motley fails to state a claim for which relief could be granted.

         A. Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim Standard

         "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 of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (citing 5A 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. Matkari, 7 F.3d at 1134; see also Martin, 980 F.2d at 952.

         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.'" Bell Atl. 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); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). Instead, a plaintiff must assert facts that rise above speculation and conceivability to those stating a claim that is "plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. 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).

         "If, on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6). .., matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56, " and "[a] 11 parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); see Laughlin v. Metro. Wash. Airports Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 260-61 (4th Cir. 1998); Gay v. Wall, 761 F.2d 175, 177 (4th Cir. 1985). However, "a court may consider official public records, documents central to plaintiffs claim, and documents sufficiently referred to in the complaint [without converting a Rule 12(b)(6) motion into one for summary judgment] so long as the authenticity of these documents is not disputed." Witthohn v. Fed. Ins. Co., 164 Fed.Appx. 395, 396-97 (4th Cir. 2006) (citing Alt. Energy, Inc. v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 267 F.3d 30, 33 (1st Cir. 2001); Phillips v. LCI In! 7, Inc., 190 F.3d 609, 618 (4th Cir. 1999); Gasner v. Cty. of Dinwiddle, 162 F.R.D. 280, 282 (E.D.Va. 1995)).

         B. Obligation to Construe Pro Se Pleadings Liberally

         Federal district courts have a duty to construe pro se pleadings liberally. Bracey v. Buchanan, 55 F.Supp.2d 416, 421 (E.D. Va. 1999). That said, a pro se plaintiff must nevertheless allege sufficient facts to state a cause of action. Id. (citing Sado v. Leland Mem'lHosp.,933 F.Supp. 490, 493 (D. Md. 1996)). The Court cannot act as a pro se litigant's "advocate and develop, sua sponte, statutory and constitutional claims" that the litigant failed to raise on the ...

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