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Pugh v. Board of Education Montgomery County

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 12, 2017



          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW United States District Judge

         Presently pending and ready for resolution in this employment discrimination case is the motion to dismiss filed by Defendant Board of Education, Montgomery County, Maryland (“Defendant”). (ECF No. 5). The issues have been briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss will be granted.

         I. Background [1]

         This is the second employment discrimination case Plaintiff Adrian D. Pugh (“Plaintiff”), an African-American woman who works or worked for Defendant as a paraeducator, or teacher's assistant (see ECF No. 1-2, at 1), has brought against Defendant. On September 27, 2013, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, sued Defendant and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), alleging that Defendant failed to hire her as a “provisional teacher” based on her race, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (“Title VII”).[2] Complaint, Pugh v. Montgomery Cty. Bd. of Educ., No. DKC 13-2862 (D.Md. Sept. 27, 2013), ECF No. 1. The court dismissed Plaintiff's Title VII and denial of due process claims against the EEOC. Pugh v. EEOC, No. DKC 13-2862, 2014 WL 2964415, at *4-5 (D.Md. June 30, 2014). Following discovery, the court granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment. Pugh v. Montgomery Cty. Bd. of Educ. (Pugh I), No. DKC 13-2862, 2016 WL 560793 (D.Md. Feb. 12, 2016), aff'd per curiam, 667 F.App'x 398 (4th Cir. 2016) (mem.), cert. denied, No. 16-6580, 2017 WL 737856 (U.S. Feb. 27, 2017) (mem.). The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed in an unpublished opinion and the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari. Id.

         While Plaintiff's petition for writ of certiorari was pending, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed the instant action on November 28, 2016, alleging racial discrimination in employment practices in violation of Title VII. (ECF No. 1, at 4).[3] Plaintiff's complaint attached two documents, a memorandum in support and a purported copy of a letter sent to the EEOC, dated April 8, 2015. (Id. at 6).

         Plaintiff alleges that Pugh I “was unfairly dismissed at the District Court and Circuit Court levels.” (ECF No. 1-1, at 1). She also alleges that her “due process rights have been egregiously denied by EEOC” and that the “EEOC continues to dismiss [her] complaint(s)” improperly. (Id.).[4] Finally, Plaintiff alleges that she “learned of new incidents of racially disparate treatment by the defendant” while her previous case was pending, and alleges that Defendant “continues to consistently hire White Comparators for teaching positions, while continuing to consistently deny African-American candidates equal opportunity.” (Id. at 2).

         The “new incidents” to which Plaintiff alludes appear to be those detailed in the letter addressed to the EEOC that was attached to the complaint.[5] (ECF No. 1-2). Plaintiff identified three incidents which allegedly constituted discriminatory employment practices: the hiring of Plaintiff's former coworker Lisa Moran as a provisional teacher in special education; the resignation of Plaintiff's former coworker Monique Williams, who had accepted a position as a provisional teacher with Prince George's County Public Schools; and the publication of “news reports” regarding Defendant's initiatives to increase teacher diversity, which Plaintiff describes as “proof after-the-fact that [her] first EEOC claim of racial discrimination/disparate treatment by [Defendant] . . . was true.” (Id. at 1-3).

         On February 6, 2017, Defendant moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 5). Plaintiff was provided with a Roseboro notice (ECF No. 6), which advised her of the pendency of the motion to dismiss and her entitlement to respond within seventeen days from the date of the letter. See Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309, 310 (4th Cir. 1975). Plaintiff opposed the motion (ECF No. 9), and Defendant replied (ECF No. 10).

         II. Standard of Review

         The purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the sufficiency of the complaint. Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006). A complaint need only satisfy the standard of Rule 8(a)(2), which requires a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” “Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a ‘showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 n.3 (2007). That showing must consist of more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” or “naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citations omitted). At this stage, all well-pleaded allegations in a complaint must be considered as true, Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994), and all factual allegations must be construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d 776, 783 (4th Cir. 1999) (citing Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993)). In evaluating the complaint, unsupported legal allegations need not be accepted. Revene v. Charles Cnty. Comm'rs, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989). Legal conclusions couched as factual allegations are insufficient, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, as are conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to actual events, United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979); see also Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 2009).

         Pro se pleadings are liberally construed and held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Liberal construction means that the court will read the pleadings to state a valid claim to the extent that it is possible to do so from the facts available; it does not mean that the court should rewrite the complaint to include claims never presented. Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1132 (10thCir. 1999). That is, even when pro se litigants are involved, the court cannot ignore a clear failure to allege facts that support a viable claim. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990); Forquer v. Schlee, No. RDB-12-969, 2012 WL 6087491, at *3 (D.Md. Dec. 4, 2012) (“[E]ven a pro se complaint must be dismissed if it does not allege a plausible claim for relief.” (citation and internal quotation marks omitted)).

         III. Analysis

         A. Res Judicata

         In her memorandum in support of the complaint, Plaintiff plainly states that “this case is being filed subsequent to another original complaint filed in this court by me (pro se) against this same defendant for the same claim of racial disparate treatment in employment/hiring practices[.]” (ECF No. 1-1, at 1). ...

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