United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS'
MOTION TO DISMISS AMENDED COMPLAINT, GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S
MOTION TO FILE A SURREPLY, GRANTING AS FRAMED DEFENDANTS'
MOTION FOR SANCTIONS, AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S
CROSS-MOTION FOR SANCTIONS AND MOTION FOR SANCTIONS
FREDERICK P. STAMP, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a civil rights case arising out of an alleged violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The pro
se plaintiff, Claudia Barber, filed this
civil action in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County,
Maryland. The defendants, the Board of Education for
Montgomery County Public Schools (the “Board of
Education”) and Montgomery County Government (the
“County Government”), removed the case to the
United States District Court for the District of Maryland,
citing federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331. The plaintiff filed an amended complaint in the
United States District Court, and the case was later
reassigned to the undersigned judge. In her single-count
amended complaint, the plaintiff alleges that she is a
57-year-old African American female who applied for several
positions as a substitute teacher and assistant general
counsel for employment and labor law with the Board of
Education. The plaintiff further alleges that she was
overqualified for all of the positions but that she was not
hired on the basis of her race, sex, age, and color, in
violation of Title VII. The plaintiff previously filed a
motion to remand, which this Court denied by a prior
memorandum opinion and order.
defendants have now filed a motion to dismiss the amended
complaint. The plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file her
surreply to the motion dismiss. The defendants have also
filed a motion for sanctions, to which the plaintiff
responded with a cross-motion for sanctions. The plaintiff
has also filed a separate motion for sanctions. The motions
are fully briefed at this time and ripe for decision. For the
following reasons, the Court grants the defendants'
motion to dismiss the amended complaint, grants the
plaintiff's motion to file her surreply to the motion to
dismiss, grants as framed the defendants' motion for
sanctions, and denies the plaintiff's cross-motion for
sanctions and motion for sanctions.
Motion to Dismiss
assessing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
under Rule 12(b)(6), a court must accept all well-pled facts
contained in the complaint as true. Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd
v. Consumeraffairs.com, Inc, 591 F.3d 250, 255 (4th Cir.
2009). However, “legal conclusions, elements of a cause
of action, and bare assertions devoid of further factual
enhancement fail to constitute well-pled facts for Rule
12(b)(6) purposes.” Id. (citing Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)). This Court also
declines to consider “unwarranted inferences,
unreasonable conclusions, or arguments.” Wahi v.
Charleston Area Med. Ctr., Inc., 562 F.3d 599, 615 n.26
(4th Cir. 2009).
often been said that the purpose of a motion under Rule
12(b)(6) is to test the formal sufficiency of the statement
of the claim for relief; it is not a procedure for resolving
a contest about the facts or the merits of the case. 5B
Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal
Practice and Procedure § 1356 (3d ed. 1998). The
Rule 12(b)(6) motion also must be distinguished from a motion
for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
56, which goes to the merits of the claim and is designed to
test whether there is a genuine issue of material fact.
Id. For purposes of the motion to dismiss, the
complaint is construed in the light most favorable to the
party making the claim and essentially the court's
inquiry is directed to whether the allegations constitute a
statement of a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
8(a). Id. § 1357.
complaint should be dismissed “if it does not allege
‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on is face.'” Giarratano v.
Johnson, 521 F.3d 298, 302 (4th Cir. 2008) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). “Facial plausibility is established once the
factual content of a complaint ‘allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.'” Nemet
Chevrolet, 591 F.3d at 256 (quoting Iqbal, 129
S.Ct. at 1949). Detailed factual allegations are not
required, but the facts alleged must be sufficient “to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
Motions for Sanctions
Rule of Civil Procedure 11 provides in relevant part as
By presenting to the court a pleading, written motion, or
other paper-whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later
advocating it-an attorney or unrepresented party
certifies that to the best of the person's knowledge,
information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable
under the circumstances: . . . the factual contentions have
evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will
likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable
opportunity for further investigation or discovery[.]
Civ. P. 11 (emphasis added). “[T]he standard is the
same for unrepresented parties, who are obliged themselves to
sign the pleadings . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 11 advisory
committee's note to 1983 amendment.
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has
stated as follows:
The language of Rule 11 requires that an attorney conduct a
reasonable investigation of the factual and legal basis for
his claim before filing. See Cleveland Demolition Co. v.
Azcon Scrap Corp., 827 F.2d 984, 987 (4th Cir. 1987).
The prefiling investigation must appear objectively
reasonable. In re Kuntsler, 914 F.2d 505, 514 (4th
Cir. 1990), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 111 S.Ct.
1607, 113 L.Ed.2d 669 (1991). Inexperienced or incompetent
attorneys are not held to a lesser standard under Rule 11.
Cabell v. Petty, 810 F.2d 463, 466 (4th Cir. 1987).
Brubaker v. City of Richmond, 943 F.2d 1363, 1373
(4th Cir. ...