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Arredondo v. The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Galveston Division

August 2, 2017

ROBERT ARREDONDO, Plaintiff,
v.
THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS MEDICAL BRANCH AT GALVESTON; dba UTMB HEALTH; dba UTMB CORRECTIONAL MANAGED CARE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          George C. Hanks Jr. United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss and Motion for More Definite Statement. Dkt. 13. Based on the pleadings; the motion, response, and reply; and the applicable law, the Defendants' motion is granted in part, and denied in part. The reasons for the ruling are explained below.

         Background

         From 2007 to 2013, Robert Arredondo (“Arredondo”) worked for the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (“UTMB”)[1] as a Mental Health Worker, providing services to inmates in the Texas prison system. Arredondo is a Hispanic male and-at the time of his termination from UTMB-was forty-five years of age. While employed, Arredondo received intermittent Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) leave and various Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) accommodations due to his diabetes. During this period, Arredondo unsuccessfully applied for forty-six promotions. According to Arredondo, many of the successful candidates for promotion were less qualified and were either younger than Arredondo, female, and/or non-Hispanic.

         Arredondo eventually filed a grievance with UTMB based on discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and age. His complaint was forwarded to UTMB's local Human Resources Administrator, Deborah S. Dansbe (“Dansbe”). Two days after the grievance was filed, according to Arredondo, Dansbe began working with Arredondo's supervisors, Donald Hlavinka (“Hlavinka”), Shana L. Khawaja (“Khawaja”), and Charlotte Kearney (“Kearney”) to create reasons to discipline him. Specifically, Dansbe instructed Arredondo's supervisors to begin documenting complaints against him. Arredondo subsequently received his first below-average performance review. According to Arredondo, UTMB continued to generate false and misleading reports on his performance before ultimately terminating his employment.

         Arredondo filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Having exhausted his administrative remedies, he then filed the instant suit. Arredondo's Complaint asserts causes of action for violations of the following statutes: (1) 42 U.S.C. § 2000e (“Title VII”); (2) the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12101; (3) the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 (“ADEA”); and (4) the FMLA, 29 U.S.C. § 2601. Arredondo asserted each statutory violation against UTMB as well as Dansby, Hlavinka, and Khawaja in their official capacities. Also named in his official capacity was David L. Callender (“Callender”), president of UTMB. UTMB filed this instant motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) and (6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.[2] In the alternative, UTMB moves for a more definite statement pursuant to Rule 12(e).

         Standard of Review

         A. Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes the dismissal of an action if the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to entertain it. Fed.R.Civ.P. § 12(b)(1). “A case is properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction when the court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate the case.” Krim v. pcOrder.com, Inc., 402 F.3d 489, 494 (5th Cir. 2005) (quoting Home Builders Ass'n of Miss., Inc. v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998)). “The burden of proof for a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss is on the party asserting jurisdiction.” Alfonso v. United States, 752 F.3d 622, 625 (5th Cir. 2014) (quoting In re FEMA Trailer Formaldehyde Prods. Liab. Litig., 646 F.3d 185, 189 (5th Cir. 2011)).

         A Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss is characterized as either a “facial” attack, that is, the allegations in the complaint are insufficient to invoke federal jurisdiction, or as a “factual” attack, that is, the facts in the complaint supporting subject matter jurisdiction are questioned. Turner Indus. Group, LLC v. Int'l Union Operating Eng'rs, 8 F.Supp.3d 875, 883 (S.D. Tex. 2014). An attack is “facial” if the defense “merely files a Rule 12(b)(1) motion ….” Peterson v. Weinberger, 644 F.2d 521, 523 (5th Cir. 1981). In such cases, “the trial court is required merely to look to the sufficiency of the allegations in the complaint because they are presumed to be true.” Id.

         B. Motion for More Definite Statement

         “A party may move for a more definite statement of a pleading to which a responsive pleading is allowed but which is so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a response.” Fed.R.Civ.P. § 12(e). Such motions, however, are “generally disfavored.” Lehman Bros. Holding, Inc. v. Cornerstone Mortg. Co., No. 09- 0672, 2009 WL 1504977, at *1 (S.D. Tex. May 29, 2009) (collecting authorities). “When a defendant is complaining of matters that can be clarified and developed during discovery, not matters that impede his ability to form a responsive pleading, an order directing the plaintiff to provide a more definite statement is not warranted.” Id. (citations omitted).

         Discussion

         A. Initial Matters

         Initially, the Court notes that Arredondo's Response compels the dismissal of several claims. Arredondo alludes in his Response to a desire to file a second amended complaint.[3] However, he did not file a motion to further amend his complaint. While the Court declines to consider the request here, it takes judicial notice of several of Arredondo's stipulations and clarifications regarding his anticipated second amended complaint.

         The Court therefore DISMISSES Arredondo's ADEA claims. See Dkt. 21, p. 4 (“Plaintiffs Second Amended ...


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