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Azadpour v. Blue Sky Sports

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

January 5, 2018

BLUE SKY SPORTS, et al., Defendants.



         Pursuant to Special Order 3 and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B)&(C), Defendants' motions to dismiss, Doc. 10; Doc. 19; Doc. 29, are before the Court for findings of fact and recommendations regarding the dispositions. As explained below, the motions should be GRANTED.

         A. Procedural History

         In May 2017, Plaintiff filed a pro se complaint against his former employer and several of its officers and employees (collectively, "Defendants"). He contends that he worked for Defendant Blue Sky Sports as an indoor soccer referee from April 2015 until he was terminated in July 2015. Doc. 3 at 1-2; Doc. 3 at 6. Plaintiff alleges that he was (1) discriminated against and terminated based on his gender and national origin; and (2) retaliated against after (a) complaining that he had wrongfully been accused of gender discrimination by Defendants Dawna and Lauren Trautman (the "Trautman Defendants") and (b) because he stated that he might sue his employer. Doc. 3 at 1-2; Doc. 3 at 11-14. Plaintiff avers in his complaint that his "former employer operated in multiple locations within the State of Texas and[, ] collectively, it employed more than 15 employees." Doc. 3 at 1. Defendants now move to dismiss Plaintiffs complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Doc. 10; Doc. 19; Doc. 29.

         B. Applicable Law

         A plaintiff fails to state a claim for relief under Rule 12(b)(6) when the complaint does not contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." BellAtl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A plaintiffs complaint should "contain either direct allegations on every material point necessary to sustain a recovery ... or contain allegations from which an inference fairly may be drawn that evidence on these material points will be introduced at trial." Campbell v. City of San Antonio, 43 F.3d 973, 975 (5th Cir. 1995) (quotation omitted). A court ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion may rely on the complaint, documents properly attached to the complaint or incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of which a court may take judicial notice. Randall D. Wolcott, M.D., P. A. v. Sebelius, 635 F.3d 757, 763 (5th Cir. 2011).

         Title VII makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against individuals with respect to their "compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of [their] race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." 42 U.S.C. § 2OOOe-2(a)(1). The provisions of Title VII apply only to employers who employ at least 15 persons. 42 U.S.C. § 2OOOe(b).

         C. Parties' Arguments and Analysis

         1. Peter Brody and Jane Naumann

         Plaintiff named Brody and Naumann as Defendants in the caption of his complaint, asserting that Brody is "CEO" and Naumann is "COO/President" of an unspecified entity. Doc. 3 at 1. Brody and Naumann argue that Plaintiff has pled no facts suggesting that either of them was personally involved in the conduct at issue, and Title VII does not impose liability on individuals who are not employers. Doc. 10 at 4. As such, Brody and Naumann assert that they are entitled to dismissal of the suit against them. Doc. 10 at 4. Plaintiff did not respond to this argument. See generally Doc. 15.

         As an initial matter, Plaintiff has abandoned his claims against Brody and Naumann because he failed to respond to the arguments they raised in their motion to dismiss. See Matter of Dallas Roadster, Ltd., 846 F.3d 112, 126 (5th Cir. 2017) (finding that plaintiffs failure to respond to defendant's argument in a motion to dismiss constituted abandonment). Additionally, as Defendants correctly argue, a Title VII suit against an employee is, in effect, a suit against the corporate entity. Indest v. Freeman Dec, Inc., 164 F.3d 258, 262 (5th Cir. 1999). As such, employees may not be sued for damages in their individual capacities. Id. Brody and Naumann's motion to dismiss thus should be GRANTED, and Plaintiffs claims against them should be dismissed with prejudice. Id.; see also Ackel v. Nat 7 Commc 'ns, Inc., 339 F.3d 376, 382 n. 1 (5th Cir. 2003) (holding that individuals cannot be held liable under Title VII in either their individual or official capacities).

         2. The Trautman Defendants

         As did Brody and Naumann, the Trautman Defendants argue that Plaintiffs Title VII discrimination claim is viable only against his employer. Doc. 19 at 3-4; Doc. 29 at 3-4. The Trautman Defendants also argue that any purported claim against them for defamation based on their allegedly calling Plaintiff a misogynist is insufficiently pleaded, and amendment is not warranted because no plausible defamation claim is viable. Doc. 19 at 4-6; Doc. 29 at 4-6.

         Plaintiff responds that he is not raising a Title VII claim against the Trautman Defendants, but is instead invoking supplemental jurisdiction to pursue a defamation claim against them. Doc. 28 at 2 n.5; Doc. 28 at 4-5; Doc. 31 at 2 n.6; Doc. 31 at 3-5. He also requests leave to amend his complaint if the Court grants the Trautman Defendants' motion to dismiss. Doc. 28 at 5; Doc. 31 at 5. Because Plaintiff concedes that he is not suing the Trautman ...

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