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Pugh v. Board of Education Montgomery County

United States District Court, D. Maryland

December 6, 2017

ADRIAN D. PUGH
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Presently pending and ready for resolution in this employment discrimination case are a motion to dismiss filed by Defendant Board of Education, Montgomery County, Maryland (“Defendant”) (ECF No. 18), and motions for summary judgment, to strike, and for sanctions filed by Plaintiff Adrian Pugh (“Plaintiff”) (ECF Nos. 21; 29; 30). The issues have been fully 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, and the motions for summary judgment, to strike, and for sanctions will be denied as moot.

         I. Background

         A more complete recitation of Plaintiff's allegations can be found in the court's prior memorandum opinion granting Defendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's initial complaint (ECF No. 11). Defendant's prior motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim was granted because Plaintiff had not alleged sufficiently that Defendant failed to hire her because of her race. (ECF No. 11, at 14). As the court explained:

Plaintiff makes broad, conclusory allegations that she was not hired because of her race, but she has alleged no facts in support of those conclusions. . . .
Moreover, Plaintiff has failed to allege that she applied for any open position for which she was qualified; indeed, she failed to allege that she applied for any position at all during the 300 day statutory period. Plaintiff explains in her letter to the EEOC that, “due to [her] active lawsuit against them, ” she believes Defendant knew she was “still interested in being hired by them to teach provisionally, and that each time they hire a White provisional teacher . . . then that new hire counts as a new incident of disparate treatment, racial discrimination in the hiring process against [her.]” ([ECF No. 1-2] at 2). . . . A pending employment discrimination lawsuit is not an “open application” for employment. By failing to allege that she applied for a position with Defendant or attempted to obtain a [Conditional Degree Certificate (“CDC”)][1] for a specific position during the relevant time period, Plaintiff has not pleaded sufficient facts to state a claim for failure to hire. Defendant could not have discriminated against Plaintiff by hiring a different candidate for a position to which Plaintiff did not apply. The complaint fails to state a plausible claim for relief, and accordingly, Defendant's motion to dismiss will be granted.

(ECF No. 11, at 14-16). Plaintiff was instructed that, “if she still wishe[d] to proceed on a Title VII claim against Defendant for failure to hire her as a Special Education teacher at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School for the 2014-2015 school year, ” and if she could “allege in good faith that, after June 19, 2014, she was qualified for the position to which Ms. Moran was hired; applied for or was prevented from applying for that position; and was not hired to that position because of her race, ” then she would be permitted to file an amended complaint within twenty-one days. (Id. at 17).

         On May 3, Plaintiff filed a document titled “Amended Complaint” (ECF No. 13), and a motion for reconsideration of the dismissal of her class action request (ECF No. 14). On May 5, the court denied Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration and dismissed the “amended complaint” without prejudice. (ECF No. 15-1). The court explained that Plaintiff's filing was not in the form of a complaint and did not plead new allegations against Defendant. As the court noted:

[T]he “amended complaint” is devoid of details establishing that she was qualified for the position or that she was not hired to the position because of her race. Plaintiff has not included specific dates or any particularized context for her allegations. The “amended complaint” largely consists of conclusory statements without further factual enhancement.

(Id. at 4). Plaintiff was “provided one final opportunity to file an amended complaint in proper form within the next fourteen (14) days.” (Id. at 3).

         Plaintiff filed her second amended complaint on May 22. (ECF No. 17). Defendant filed the pending motion to dismiss on June 5 (ECF No. 18), Plaintiff submitted a response in opposition on June 23 (ECF No. 21), and Defendant replied (ECF No. 25). Without leave of court, Plaintiff filed a surreply on July 31. (ECF No. 27). Plaintiff also filed a separate motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 21), Defendant submitted a response in opposition on July 19 (ECF No. 26), and Plaintiff replied on July 31 (ECF No. 28). On August 18, Plaintiff filed a motion to strike (ECF No. 29), and a motion for sanctions (ECF No. 30). Defendant submitted a response in opposition to Plaintiff's motions to strike and for sanctions (ECF No. 31), and Plaintiff replied (ECF No. 32).

         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 plaintiff's complaint need only satisfy the standard of Rule 8(a), which requires a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “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 Cty. 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, 193 (4th Cir. 2009). Ultimately, a complaint must “‘permit[ ] ...


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