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Bailey v. AT&T Corporate/Headquarters

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

March 29, 2017

LAKEYCHA BAILEY, Plaintiff,
v.
AT&T CORPORATE/HEADQUARTERS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JANE J. BOYLE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Defendant AT&T Corporate/Headquarters' Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(5) and 12(b)(6).[1] Doc. 13. For the reasons presented below, the Court DENIES without prejudice Defendant's Motion and QUASHES Plaintiff's previous attempt at service of process.

         I.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff LaKeycha Bailey sued Defendant AT&T Corporate/Headquarters (AT&T) to recover benefits due her under the terms of her pension plan (the Plan).[2] Doc. 3, Pl.'s Compl. 1. In her Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that she did not receive “the same pension options as other employees that were on the same contract, ” and that she was compensated under the Plan at a lower rate than her peers who had less seniority.[3] Doc. 3, Pl.'s Compl. 1. Defendant filed its Motion to Dismiss and argued that the Court should dismiss Plaintiff's claims on two independent grounds: (1) under 12(b)(5) for insufficient service of process; or (2) under 12(b)(6) because Plaintiff failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted. Doc. 13, Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss 1. Plaintiff failed to file a Response to Defendant's Motion. The Motion is ripe for the Court's review.

         II.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(5)

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(c)(1), the plaintiff is responsible for serving the defendant with a complaint and summons. If a plaintiff performs an insufficient service of process, the defendant may seek to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint under Rule 12(b)(5). Cockerham v. Rose, No. 3:11-CV-277-B, 2011 WL 1515159, at *1 (N.D. Tex. Apr. 18, 2011).

         When a defendant questions the validity of service of process, “the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing its validity.” Carimi v. Royal Carribean Cruise Line, Inc., 959 F.2d 1344, 1346 (5th Cir. 1992). Where the alleged defect in the service of process is that the defendant is misnamed in the summons, a defendant can challenge service under Rule 12(b)(5) “on the ground that the wrong party-a party not named in the summons-has been served.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(a)(1)(A); Gartin v. Par Pharm. Cos., Inc., 289 F. App'x 688, 691 n.3 (5th Cir. 2008).

         B. Pro Se Litigants

         Before examining the issues before the Court, the Court notes that pro se litigants are expected to comply with the rules of pleading and the rules of service. See Birl v. Estelle, 660 F.2d 592, 593 (5th Cir. 1981) (per curiam). Parties who proceed pro se, however, are often given more leeway than represented parties in correcting errors in pleadings and defects in service of process. See Reece v. Countrywide Home Loans, 250 F. App'x 91, 92 (5th Cir. 2007). Further, a court must liberally construe a pro se complaint, taking all well-pleaded allegations as true. Johnson v. Atkins, 999 F.2d 99, 100 (5th Cir. 1993) (per curiam). Nevertheless, a pro se plaintiff's complaint "must set forth facts giving rise to a claim on which relief may be granted." Id.

         III.

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