United States District Court, D. Maryland
Shawnta D. Royster
Megan J. Brennan, et al.
L. RUSSELL, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Defendants Megan J. Brennan, Mary
Kearney, and Carl W. Starliper's Motion to Dismiss the
Complaint or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment (ECF
No. 13). The Motion is ripe for disposition, and no hearing
is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2018). For
the reasons outlined below, the Court will grant the Motion.
case arises from Plaintiff Shawnta Royster's termination
from the United States Postal Service. On August 29, 2017,
Royster, proceeding pro se, filed a form Complaint
(“Complaint” or “Original Complaint”)
against Defendants. (ECF No. 1). The Complaint alleged
employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 based on her race, sex, and gender; age
discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
of 1967; and violations of “FCA regulations, pregnancy
discrimination.” (Compl. at 4, ECF No. 1). The
Complaint contained a statement of facts pertinent to
Royster's claims. (Id. at 6-7). On February 5,
2018, Royster filed an Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 10). In
the Amended Complaint, Royster corrected the spelling of
Starliper's name and “completed Section II in
Jurisdiction . . . fully as needed, ” removing the age
discrimination, “FCA regulations, ” and
“pregnancy discrimination” claims, and adding
claims for “violation of FCRA, Civil Rights” and
“violations of ELM 16.6-16.9, 16.5, 16.8.” (Am.
Compl. at 1-2, ECF No. 10). The Amended Complaint neither
contains a statement of facts, nor refers to or incorporates
the facts or allegations from the Original Complaint.
filed their Motion to Dismiss the Complaint or, in the
Alternative, for Summary Judgment on March 27, 2018. (ECF No.
13). On May 17, 2018, Royster filed an Opposition. (ECF No.
19). Defendants filed a Reply on June 15, 2018. (ECF No. 21).
style their Motion as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)
or, in the alternative, for summary judgment under Rule 56. A
motion styled in this manner implicates the Court's
discretion under Rule 12(d). See Kensington Volunteer
Fire Dep't., Inc. v. Montgomery Cty., 788 F.Supp.2d
431, 436-37 (D.Md. 2011), aff'd, 684 F.3d 462
(4th Cir. 2012). This Rule provides that when “matters
outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by
the court, the [Rule 12(b)(6)] motion must be treated as one
for summary judgment under Rule 56.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(d). The Court “has ‘complete discretion to
determine whether or not to accept the submission of any
material beyond the pleadings that is offered in conjunction
with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion and rely on it, thereby
converting the motion, or to reject it or simply not consider
it.'” Wells-Bey v. Kopp, No. ELH-12-2319,
2013 WL 1700927, at *5 (D.Md. Apr. 16, 2013) (quoting 5C
Wright & Miller, Federal Practice &
Procedure § 1366, at 159 (3d ed. 2004, 2012
Supp.)). Here, because the Court will not consider matters
outside of the pleadings, the Court will not convert the
Motion. Instead, the Court will treat the Motion as a motion
purpose of a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) is to “test[ ] the sufficiency of a complaint,
” not to “resolve contests surrounding the facts,
the merits of a claim, or the applicability of
defenses.” King v. Rubenstein, 825 F.3d 206,
214 (4th Cir. 2016) (quoting Edwards v. City of
Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999)). A
complaint fails to state a claim if it does not contain
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2), or does not “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face, ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially
plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555). Though the plaintiff is not required to
forecast evidence to prove the elements of the claim, the
complaint must allege sufficient facts to establish each
element. Goss v. Bank of America, N.A., 917
F.Supp.2d 445, 449 (D.Md. 2013) (quoting Walters v.
McMahen, 684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012)),
aff'd sub nom., Goss v. Bank of America,
NA, 546 Fed.Appx. 165 (4th Cir. 2013).
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must examine the
complaint as a whole, consider the factual allegations in the
complaint as true, and construe the factual allegations in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Albright v.
Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994); Lambeth v. Bd. of
Comm'rs, 407 F.3d 266, 268 (4th Cir. 2005) (citing
Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)). But,
the court need not accept unsupported or conclusory factual
allegations devoid of any reference to actual events,
United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844,
847 (4th Cir. 1979), or legal conclusions couched as factual
allegations, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
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));
accord Brown v. N.C. Dep't of Corr., 612 F.3d
720, 722 (4th Cir. 2010). Pro se complaints are entitled to
special care to determine whether any possible set of facts
would entitle the plaintiff to relief. Hughes v.
Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9-10 (1980). But “even a pro se
complaint must be dismissed if it does not allege ‘a
plausible claim for relief.'” Forquer v.
Schlee, No. RDB-12-969, 2012 WL 6087491, at *3 (D.Md.
Dec.4, 2012) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).
“While pro se complaints may ‘represent the work
of an untutored hand requiring special judicial
solicitude,' a district court is not required to
recognize ‘obscure or extravagant claims defying the
most concerted efforts to unravel them.'”
Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. for the City of
Balt., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990) (quoting
Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1277
(4th Cir. 1985)).
pro se litigants are not entitled to a “special
exemption” from the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Adkins v. Rice, 842 F.2d 1289, 1289 (4th Cir. 1988)
(unpublished table decision) (citing Birl v.
Estelle, 660 F.2d 592, 593 (5th Cir. 1981); see also
McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993)
(observing that the Supreme Court has “never suggested
that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be
interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed
maintain that Royster fails to allege facts sufficient to
create a plausible inference of discrimination. The Court
agrees that Royster has failed to state a claim, though for a
different reason than Defendants argue.
a general rule, ‘an amended pleading ordinarily
supersedes the original and renders it of no legal
effect.'” Young v. City of Mount Ranier,
238 F.3d 567, 572 (4th Cir. 2001) (quoting In re
Crysen/Montenay Energy Co., 226 F.3d 160, 162 (2d Cir.
2000)); see also 6 Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R.
Miller & Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice and
Procedure § 1476 (3d ed. 2010) (noting that
“[o]nce an amended pleading is interposed, the original
pleading no longer performs any function in the case”).
The Court may apply this rule even though Defendants did not
point to it specifically as a basis for dismissal. U.S.
ex rel. May v. Purdue Pharma L.P., 737 F.3d 908, 913 n.3
(4th Cir. 2013); see also Kamen v. Kemper Fin. Servs.,
Inc., 500 U.S. 90, 99 (1991) (“When an issue or
claim is properly before the court, the court is not limited
to the particular legal theories advanced by the parties, but
rather retains the independent power to identify and apply
the proper construction of governing law.”).
Royster's failure to include a factually supported
statement of her claims in her Amended Complaint dictates
dismissal under Rule 8(a)(2). The statement of facts in
Royster's Original Complaint did not survive the Amended
Complaint to support her revised claims. Young, 238
F.3d at 572. Royster's attempt to state additional facts
or claims in her Opposition is also unavailing. Hurst v.
D.C., 681 Fed.Appx. 186, 194 (4th Cir. 2017) (“a
plaintiff may not amend her complaint via briefing”).
In an analogous case involving a pro se litigant, this Court
held that a “[p]laintiff may not point to allegations
in two separate pleadings in order to state a claim that
satisfies the requirements of Rule 8, and the various
assertions in her motion papers have no effect on the
sufficiency of her pleadings.” Wroblewski v. United
States, No. DKC 08-3368, 2011 WL 1769989, at *4 (D. Md.
May 9, 2011). The same logic applies here. The Court,
therefore, concludes that Royster fails to state a claim for
relief. Accordingly, the Court will grant Defendants'
foregoing reasons, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the
Complaint or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment (ECF
No. 13), construed as a motion to dismiss, is GRANTED.
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (ECF No. 10) is DISMISSED
WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Despite the informal nature of this
Memorandum, it shall constitute an Order of the Court, and
the Clerk ...