United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
TEEL S. STYLES, Plaintiff,
AIR SERVE CORPORATION, Defendant.
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
L. HORAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
pro se employment-related action filed by Plaintiff
Teel S. Styles has been referred to the undersigned United
States magistrate judge for screening under 28 U.S.C. §
636(b) and a standing order of reference from United States
District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater. The undersigned enters
these findings of fact, conclusions of law, and
recommendation that the Court should dismiss this duplicative
action with prejudice as malicious.
filed this action on March 22, 2018. See Dkt. No. 3.
The next day, the undersigned granted Styles's motion for
leave to proceed in forma pauperis
(“IFP”), see Dkt. Nos. 4 & 5, and,
consistent with the obligation to screen actions filed IFP,
issued a notice of deficiency (the “NOD”)
requiring that Styles file an amended complaint on a
court-provided form no later than April 23, 2018,
see Dkt. No. 6. The NOD further informed Styles that
[a] separate but related deficiency appears to plague [the]
new complaint. On January 2, 2018, the Court dismissed her
Title VII claims against Defendant Air Serve Corporation with
prejudice as barred by the applicable statute of limitations,
after Styles failed to file an amended complaint asserting
her right to equitable tolling of that statute. See
Styles v. Air Serve Corp., No. 3:17-cv-2201-K-BN, Dkt.
No. 13 (N.D. Tex. Jan. 2, 2018); see also Styles v. Air
Serve Corp., No. 3:17-cv-2201-K-BN, 2017 WL 5891801
(N.D. Tex. Oct. 24, 2017), rec. accepted, 2017 WL
5749666 (N.D. Tex. Nov. 27, 2017). The [Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”)] right-to-sue
letter attached to the complaint in this action matches the
one Styles filed in the previous action. Compare
Dkt. No. 3 at 2, with Styles, 2017 WL 5891801, at
*1. It appears therefore that this action may be subject to
dismissal (under Section 1915(e)(2)(B)) based on res
Id. at 2-3. Styles filed an amended complaint, as
ordered, on April 23, 2018. See Dkt. No. 7.
Standards and Analysis
district court is required to screen a civil action filed IFP
and may summarily dismiss that action if it concludes, for
example, that the action “is frivolous or
malicious.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i).
the claims presented in a case “are duplicative of
claims already asserted and dismissed in [a] previous case,
” those claims “must be dismissed as
malicious” or, alternatively, because they “are
also barred by the doctrine of res judicata, ... for
failure to state a claim.” Yarborough v. Sheriff,
Tarrant Cty., Tex., No. 4:11-cv-207-Y, 2011 WL 4736302,
at *1-*2 (N.D. Tex. Oct. 6, 2011) (citing Bailey v.
Johnson, 846 F.2d 1019, 1021 (5th Cir. 1988)
(“[W]e have dismissed an appeal as frivolous because it
involved a duplicative action arising from the same series of
events and alleging many of the same facts as an earlier
suit, concluding that repetitious litigation of virtually
identical causes of action is subject to dismissal under 28
U.S.C. § 1915[(e)] as malicious.” (citations and
internal quotation marks omitted)); Brown v. Thomas,
No. 3:02-cv-673-M, 2002 WL 31757616, at *3-*4 (N.D. Tex. Dec.
3, 2002) (dismissing as duplicative even though earlier case
was dismissed without reaching its merits); see also
Silva v. Stickney, No. 3:03-cv-2279-D, 2005 WL 2445433,
at *4 (N.D. Tex. Sept. 30, 2005) (“Courts may
appropriately dismiss an in forma pauperis action as
frivolous, when the action ‘seek[s] to relitigate
claims which allege substantially the same facts arising from
a common series of events which have already been
unsuccessfully litigated by the IFP plaintiff.' Such
dismissal is predicated on principles of res
judicata.” (quoting Wilson v. Lynaugh,
878 F.2d 846, 850 (5th Cir. 1989); citing Pittman v.
Moore, 980 F.2d 994, 994 (5th Cir. 1993))).
that a successive in forma pauperis suit is
‘malicious' ... insures that the plaintiff obtains
one bite at the litigation apple - but not more.”
Brown v. Tex. Bd. of Nursing, 554 Fed.Appx. 268, 269
(5th Cir. 2014) (per curiam) (quoting Pittman, 980
F.2d at 995; quotation modified).
pointed out in the NOD, this action appears to assert claims
based on a charge of discrimination Styles filed with the
EEOC on April 17, 2017. See Dkt. No. 7 at 12-15.
Styles received a right-to-sue letter as a result of that
charge on April 20, 2017. See Id. at 16. The same
right-to-sue letter supported the previous action filed in
this Court. Compare Dkt. No. 3 at 2, with
Styles, 2017 WL 5891801, at *1.
The rule of res judicata, or claim preclusion, “bars
the litigation of claims that either have been litigated or
should have been raised in an earlier suit.” Test
Masters Educ. Servs., Inc. v. Singh, 428 F.3d 559, 571
(5th Cir. 2005). In the Fifth Circuit, res judicata is
appropriate if four conditions are met: (1) the parties in
the subsequent action are identical to, or in privity with,
the parties in the prior action; (2) the judgment in the
prior case was rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction;
(3) there has been a final judgment on the merits; and (4)
the same claim or cause of action is involved in both suits.
Id., see also Ellis v. Amex Life Ins. Co.,
211 F.3d 935, 937 (5th Cir. 2000).
Chalmers v. City of Dallas, No. 3:14-cv-36-N, 2014
WL 7174289, at *6 (N.D. Tex. Dec. 16, 2014).
first three conditions are easily met here - as between the
two actions, the parties are identical, and this Court
entered a final judgment dismissing the prior case as
time-barred. See Carter v. Nicholson, No. 07-20169,
2007 WL 3316086, at *2 (5th Cir. Nov. 8, 2007) (per curiam)
(“There is ... no doubt that the dismissal of a claim
as time-barred is a final judgment on the merits for res
judicata purposes.” (citing Nilsen v. City of Moss
Point, 701 F.2d 556, 561 (5th Cir. 1993) (en banc)
(“Dismissals for want of ...