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Johnson v. Roundtree Automotive

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

March 5, 2019




         This pro se employment-related action filed by Plaintiff D'lon Vincent Johnson has been referred to the undersigned United States magistrate judge for pretrial management under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and a standing order of reference from United States District Judge Ed Kinkeade.

         The Court granted Mr. Johnson leave to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”), see Dkt. No. 7, and issued a notice of deficiency regarding the complaint as filed [Dkt. No. 8] (the “NOD”). And he responded to the NOD by filing an amended complaint. See Dkt. No. 9.

         The undersigned now enters these findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendation that, for the reasons explained below, the Court should dismiss this action with prejudice.

         Applicable Background

         Ms. Johnson's complaint as filed consisted of two pages of difficult-to-decipher handwritten allegations and a Dismissal and Notice of Rights letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. See Dkt. No. 3. This filing prompted the undersigned to issue the NOD, which informed Mr. Johnson that his

complaint does not [ ] comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), which requires that a plaintiff's complaint “must contain” “a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction”; “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a).

Dkt. No. 8 at 1-2. After informing Mr. Johnson of the applicable pleading standards, see Id. at 2 - also set out below - he filed an amended complaint on the court-provided form Complaint For Employment Discrimination, see Dkt. No. 9.

         Through the amended complaint, Mr. Johnson adds several individual defendants he identifies as managers at his former employer. See Id. at 2. He then invokes Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Federal Rico Statute. See id. at 3. And he identifies the following conduct as discriminatory: that he was terminated after being out for “surgery 2 days”; a manager yelled and cursed at him; another manager told “the only black manager follow the process of get the [indecipherable]”; his computer was unplugged to take [him] away from computer they even had the workers and made me do all the hard work. Confirming appointments.” Id. at 4.

         Legal Standards

         A district court is required to screen a civil action filed IFP and may summarily dismiss that action, or any portion of the action, if, for example, it fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         Dismissal for failure to state a claim “turns on the sufficiency of the ‘factual allegations' in the complaint, ” Smith v. Bank of Am., N.A., 615 Fed.Appx. 830, 833 (5th Cir. 2015) (per curiam) (quoting Johnson v. City of Shelby, Miss., 574 U.S., 135 S.Ct. 346, 347 (2014) (per curiam); emphasis added by Smith), and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “do not countenance dismissal of a complaint for imperfect statement of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted, ” Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 346.

         Indeed, to survive dismissal under the framework of Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009), a plaintiff need only “plead facts sufficient to show” that the claims asserted have “substantive plausibility” by stating “simply, concisely, and directly events” that she contends entitle her to relief. Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 347 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)-(3), (d)(1), (e)); see Harold H. Huggins Realty, Inc. v. FNC, Inc., 634 F.3d 787, 796 (5th Cir. 2011) (“A claim for relief is implausible on its face when ‘the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct.'” (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679)); Gentilello v. Rege, 627 F.3d 540, 544 (5th Cir. 2010) (a court need “not accept as true conclusory allegations, unwarranted factual inferences, or legal conclusions” (quoting Plotkin v. IP Axess Inc., 407 F.3d 690, 696 (5th Cir. 2005); citation omitted)).

         This rationale has even more force here, as the Court “must construe the pleadings of pro se litigants liberally, ” Andrade v. Gonzales, 459 F.3d 538, 543 (5th Cir. 2006), “to prevent the loss of rights due to inartful expression, ” Marshall v. Eadison, 704CV123HL, 2005 WL 3132352, at *2 (M.D. Ga. Nov. 22, 2005) (citing Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980)); but see Smith v. CVS Caremark Corp., No. 3:12- cv-2465-B, 2013 WL 2291886, at *8 (N.D. Tex. May 23, ...

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