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Treadwell v. Prince George's County

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

December 4, 2013



ALEXANDER WILLIAMS, Jr., District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss. The Court has reviewed the record and deems a hearing unnecessary. For the reasons that follow, the Court DENIES Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss.


Plaintiff is a 42-year-old Black female. Plaintiff started working for the Health Department of Prince George's County, Maryland in January 2009. The Court refers to both the Health Department and the County interchangeably as "Department, " "Defendant, " or "the County." Defendant Christopher Oladipo ("Oladipo") supervised Plaintiff. Oladipo works in the Department as Program Chief.

According to Plaintiff, Oladipo started to sexually harass her almost as soon as she started working for the Department. Between January 2009 and October 2010, Oladipo subjected Plaintiff to numerous lewd remarks, sexual propositions, and other offensive conduct. Plaintiff further alleges that Oladipo would physically assault her, including in a sexual manner.

In March 2010, Plaintiff started repeatedly complaining about the harassment to the Department's HR office. She complained to additional Department officials throughout the spring and summer of 2010 and received little assistance. Plaintiff alleges that Oladipo's harassment picked up after these complaints and involved, among other things, snarling, screaming, and stalking. Plaintiff adds that, at one point, the Department's personnel manager suggested that she find another job.

In late June 2010, Plaintiff filed a formal complaint of discrimination with the County's Human Relations Commission (HRC). The harassment continued. Then, in mid-July 2010, Plaintiff filed criminal charges against Oladipo based on the alleged physical assaults. Around this time, Plaintiff sought and received a Peace Order against Oladipo.

In the late summer of 2010, the Department assigned Plaintiff to a different building and told Oladipo not to come into contact with her. Plaintiff alleges that Oladipo nonetheless came to the new work location at times, ostensibly to attend meetings. Plaintiff further alleges that he enlisted other persons to harass Plaintiff in his stead.

In April 2012, the HRC determined that Oladipo sexually harassed Plaintiff. Apparently, during its investigation, the HRC discovered that Oladipo had harassed other people and that someone had filed a formal charge of discrimination against him in 2008. Along these lines, Plaintiff also alleges that another Department employee filed a complaint against Oladipo in 2006 and that a different woman sought a Peace Order in 2007 to stop Oladipo from harassing her. Plaintiff adds that she never received EEO training and that, to her knowledge, the Department has not issued a formal EEO policy on sexual harassment.

In January 2013, Plaintiff filed her complaint. In late March 2013, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint, Doc. No. 28, which is the controlling pleading. On April 9, 2013, the County filed its Partial Motion to Dismiss. Doc. No. 29. The County urges the Court to dismiss the § 1983 claim, asserting that (1) Oladipo is not a final policymaker for § 1983 purposes and (2) Plaintiff has not sufficiently plead a Monell claim. Plaintiff filed her Opposition on May 6, 2013. Doc. No. 35. Plaintiff states that the contention that Oladipo is not a final policymaker is off-point because Plaintiff asserts only individual-capacity § 1983 claims against Oladipo. The Court agrees and will not entertain this argument further. Plaintiff also argues that she has pleaded a facially plausible Monell claim. Defendant has not filed a reply brief.


The purpose of a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss is to test the sufficiency of the plaintiff's complaint. See Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). In two recent cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has clarified the standard applicable to Rule 12(b)(6) motions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). These cases make clear that Rule 8 "requires a showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 n.3 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). This showing must consist of at least "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570.

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the court should first review the complaint to determine which pleadings are entitled to the assumption of truth. See Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50. "When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Id. at 1950. In so doing, the court must construe all factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d 776, 783 (4th Cir. 1999). The Court need not, however, accept unsupported legal allegations, Revene v. Charles County Commissioners, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989), legal conclusions couched as factual allegations, ...

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