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Brown v. Cooley

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

February 4, 2019

BOBBY BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
CLAY COOLEY and AUGUSTA MCGRIFF, Defendants.

          FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          REBECCA RUTHERFORD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Bobby Brown, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil action asserting claims for breach of contract, violations of his civil rights, and violations of the “Fair Work Act.” For the following reasons, the district court should dismiss Plaintiff's complaint.

         I.

         Plaintiff's complaint is subject to preliminary screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), which states a district court may summarily dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it concludes the action is: (1) frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). To state a claim upon which relief may be granted, a plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face[, ]” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), and must plead those facts with enough specificity “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level[.]” Id. at 555. “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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         II.

         In his initial pleading, Plaintiff states he entered an employment contract with Defendants “Clay Cooley, Augusta McGriff, and all other similar [sic] situated, ” which Defendants breached when they terminated his employment. He also claims Defendants directed their subordinates to falsify documents to conceal their breach of contract, and Defendants paid him less money than they owed him. Based on this conduct, Plaintiff claims Defendants breached an employment contract, violated his civil rights, and violated the “Fair Work Act.” He seeks money damages as the remedy for these alleged violations.

         A. Civil Rights

         Plaintiff claims Defendants violated his “constitutional and civil rights, ” including his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. To obtain relief for a violation of his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff must prove two elements: (1) the deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States; and (2) the deprivation of that right by a defendant acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Flagg Bros., Inc. v. Brooks, 436 U.S. 149, 155 (1978). The color of law requirement “excludes from its reach merely private conduct, no matter how discriminatory or wrongful.” Am. Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 50 (1999) (internal quotations omitted). Here, Plaintiff has not claimed that Defendants are state actors; nor has he alleged any facts that would suggest state action. Instead, Defendants appear to be individuals working for a private employer. Plaintiff has therefore failed to allege facts establishing a reasonable inference that Defendants acted under color of state law. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The Court should dismiss his civil rights claims.

         B. Fair Work Act

         Plaintiff cites the “Fair Work Act, ” apparently as a basis for federal jurisdiction. However, he did not include a citation for this Act, and the Court has found no federal or State of Texas “Fair Work Act.” Thus, the Court should dismiss Plaintiff's Fair Work Act claims.

         C. State Law

         Plaintiff claims Defendants breached an employment contract. Although the Court has supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's remaining state law claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1367, the Court recommends that the claim be dismissed without prejudice to Plaintiff raising the claim in state court. This recommendation is in accord with “[t]he general rule that a court should decline to exercise jurisdiction over remaining state-law claims when all the federal-law claims are eliminated before trial[.]” Brookshire Bros. Holding, Inc. v. Dayco Prods., Inc., 554 F.3d 595, 602 (5th Cir. 2009); see also Parker & Parsley Petrol. Co. v. Dresser, 972 F.2d 580, 585 (5th Cir. 1992) (“Our general rule is to dismiss state claims when the federal claims to which they are pendent are dismissed.”). Further, when the federal claims are dismissed at an early stage of the litigation, the district court has a “powerful reason to choose not to continue to exercise jurisdiction.” Enochs v. Lampasas County, 641 F.3d 155, 161 (5th Cir. 2011) (quoting Carnegie-Mellon, 484 U.S. 343, 351 (1988)). The Court therefore recommends dismissal of Plaintiffs state law claim.

         IV.

         Plaintiffs state law claim should be dismissed without prejudice and his remaining claims should be dismissed with prejudice ...


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