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Lacy v. National Railroad Passenger Corporation

United States District Court, D. Maryland

December 8, 2014

ALVIA LACY, Plaintiff,
v.
NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION and LARRY TAYLOR, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RICHARD D. BENNETT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Alvia Lacy ("Ms. Lacy") brings this pro se action against Defendants National Railroad Passenger Corporation ("Amtrak") and Larry Taylor ("Mr. Taylor"), alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that, while an employee of Amtrak, she suffered continuous gender discrimination and sexual harassment, resulting in a hostile work environment.

Pending before this Court are Defendant Amtrak's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 13); Defendant Larry Taylor's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 23); Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Time (ECF No. 28); Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Sur-Reply (ECF No. 33); and Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint (ECF No. 34). The parties' submissions have been reviewed and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the following reasons, Defendant Amtrak's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 13) is GRANTED with prejudice; Defendant Larry Taylor's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 23) is GRANTED with prejudice; Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Time (ECF No. 28) is MOOT[1]; Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Sur-Reply (ECF No. 33) is DENIED; and Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint (ECF No. 34) is DENIED. Quite simply, as noted below, this case is duplicative of an earlier action dismissed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Such duplicative litigation is impermissible.

BACKGROUND

In a ruling on a motion to dismiss, this Court must accept the factual allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true and construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs. See, e.g., Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999). Moreover, a pro se litigant's complaint should not be dismissed unless it appears beyond doubt that the litigant can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief. Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978).

This action is the second such complaint filed by Ms. Lacy, arising out of alleged discrimination and sexual harassment directed at her during her employment at Amtrak. She has been employed as a car repairman at Amtrak's Bear, Delaware maintenance facility. Compl. 2, ECF No. 1. On May 4, 2009, Defendant Taylor allegedly struck Ms. Lacy on "a [sic] intimate area of her body" in a manner that was "unwelcomed, painful, offensive, and insulting." Id. Ms. Lacy claims that Mr. Taylor's action was not an isolated incident. Id. Prior to the May 4, 2009 incident, Mr. Taylor "rubbed his private part (penis) on [her] upper arm" while she was eating lunch in the staff lunchroom.[2] Id. Plaintiff claims that she reported the inappropriate behavior to Amtrak, but Amtrak never disciplined Mr. Taylor. Id.

Ms. Lacy alleges that Mr. Taylor's inappropriate behavior was merely one example of a continuous pattern of harassment of and discrimination against female employees. Compl. Attach. 4, 1, ECF No. 1-4. Among other incidents, a male Amtrak employee allegedly yelled at Ms. Lacy to "get off [her] fat ass, and make the car move[]."[3] Id. On a separate occasion, an Amtrak employee posted a picture of a rat with the words "WARNING. There is a fat letter writing RAT watching you, punch your time card." Compl. Attach. 5, 1, ECF No. 1-5.

Ms. Lacy filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on September 24, 2009, alleging sexual harassment and hostile work environment. Compl. Attach. 2, at 2-4. Her complaint included the above incidents, as well as a list of other discriminatory behavior at the Bear, Delaware Amtrak facility. Id.; Compl. Attach. 4, at 1. The EEOC dismissed the complaint and notified Ms. Lacy of her right to sue on October 28, 2013. Plaintiff then filed the subject Complaint on January 24, 2014.

The present action, however, is not Ms. Lacy's first lawsuit against Amtrak. Ms. Lacy filed a separate complaint with the EEOC in May, 2009, alleging sex and race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Mem. in Supp. of Def. Amtrak's Mot. to Dismiss, 3, 13-15, ECF No. 13-1. This EEOC complaint included a list of fourteen alleged discriminatory incidents at the Bear, Delaware Amtrak facility and a copy of the same "rat" poster included in Ms. Lacy's instant Complaint. Id. at 17; cf. Compl. Attach. 5, at 1.

The attached list of incidents is nearly identical to the list provided by Ms. Lacy in the present action.[4] Compl. Attach. 4, at 1; cf. Mem. in Supp. of Def. Amtrak's Mot. to Dismiss, at 17-18. The EEOC issued a dismissal and notice of rights letter on May 20, 2010. Mem. in Supp. of Def. Amtrak's Mot. to Dismiss, at 15. Ms. Lacy subsequently sued Amtrak in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (" Lacy I "), asserting the claims of her EEOC complaint.[5] Id. at 3. As in the case before this Court, Ms. Lacy attached the above list of alleged incidents. Id. at 4. The parties conducted extensive discovery, but Ms. Lacy moved to dismiss her case voluntarily on August 13, 2012. Id. at 5. After the district court granted her motion and dismissed the case, Ms. Lacy filed several motions over the next year, including a motion for reconsideration and summary judgment. Id. at 5-6. Construing this motion as a motion to reopen the case under Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court found no excuse for the fourteen-month delay and no "extraordinary circumstances" necessitating relief. Id. at 6.

Ms. Lacy filed the instant action only two weeks after the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied her motion in Lacy I. Id. In this Complaint, she asserts claims of sex discrimination and hostile work environment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., as well as a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Compl. at 1. Defendants Amtrak and Larry Taylor moved separately to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Def. Amtrak's Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 13; Def. Taylor's Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 23. Amtrak and Mr. Taylor contend that the present action is impermissibly duplicative of Lacy I. See Mem. in Supp. of Def. Amtrak's Mot. to Dismiss, at 1. Even further, Defendants argue that Ms. Lacy's claims are either time-barred by the applicable statutes of limitations or legally insufficient. Id. In response, Ms. Lacy claims that the present action is not duplicative of Lacy I because she did not name Mr. Taylor in that lawsuit, as her second claim with the EEOC was still pending. Pl.'s Resp. in Opp. to Def. Amtrak's Mot. to Dismiss, 2, ECF No. 27. Plaintiff then filed a Motion for Leave to File a Sur-Reply (ECF No. 33) and a Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint (ECF No. 34).

STANDARDS OF REVIEW

A. Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

Under Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P 8(a)(2). Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes the dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The purpose of Rule 12(b)(6) is "to test the sufficiency of a complaint and not to resolve contests surrounding the facts, the ...


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