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Darell Laval v. Jersey City Housing Authority

May 10, 2011

DARELL LAVAL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JERSEY CITY HOUSING AUTHORITY, MARIA T. MAIO & GRACE M. MALLEY,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wigenton, District Judge.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Before the Court is Defendants‟, Jersey City Housing Authority ("JCHA"), Maria T. Maio, and Grace M. Malley, motion to dismiss ("Motion") Darell Laval‟s Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Also before the Court is Plaintiff‟s motion to amend the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). This Court, having considered the parties‟ submissions, decides this matter without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the reasons discussed below, this Court hereby GRANTS the Motion in part and DENIES in part. This Court also DENIES Plaintiff‟s motion to amend the Complaint.

PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is an African-American male and a former employee with the JCHA *fn1 , a government entity operating in the State of New Jersey. For twenty-three years, Plaintiff was employed with JCHA. At the time of his termination, Plaintiff was serving as the Regional Assistant Manager. Maria T. Maio is the Executive Director of JCHA and was Plaintiff‟s direct supervisor. Grace M. Malley is employed with JCHA in the position of "Resident/Staff Development & Strategic Planning."

This action arises from allegations by Plaintiff of discriminatory practices by Defendants for terminating and "target[ing] [him] due to his race and . . . involvement with a political candidate defendant disapproved of . . . ." Specifically, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Maio "treated [him] differently than the other similarly situated Caucasian supervisor." Plaintiff further alleges that "it was very evident that Defendant Maio has a policy of harassing and discriminating against people of color." On August 11, 2010, Plaintiff filed his complaint, claiming the following: race discrimination under New Jersey and federal laws; hostile work environment; violation of his freedom of speech under the First Amendment; intentional infliction of emotional distress; "Equal Protection NJ Constitution, Section 1983"; Fair Labor Standard Act/Equal Pay Act; intentional discrimination under New Jersey and federal laws; right to privacy under the Fourth Amendment; and retaliation under New Jersey and federal laws.*fn2

Defendants filed their notice of removal with this Court on August 27, 2010. Defendants filed motions to dismiss and collectively filed a joint brief supporting their motions on October 19, 2010.

On December 2, 2010, Plaintiff submitted his papers in response to Defendants‟ Motion . Plaintiff requested leave to file an amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15, for the purpose of "streamlining . the facts already presented in the Second Amended Complaint to properly reflect the laws that were pled as being violated . . . ." Defendants oppose the motion.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The adequacy of pleadings is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), which requires that a complaint allege "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." While the complaint is to be construed in the light most favorable to the movant, the plaintiff is obligated to provide factual allegations that would render a plaintiff‟s entitlement to relief plausible. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008).

The court may dismiss a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) "only if no relief could be granted under any set of facts consistent with the allegations of the complaint." Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc. v. Mirage Resorts, Inc., 140 F.3d 478, 483 (3d Cir. 1998); see also Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). To determine whether a complaint is sufficient, the court should disregard legal conclusions in the complaint and determine whether the remaining factual allegations suggest that a plaintiff has a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949-50 (2009); Great W. Mining & Mineral Co. v. Fox Rothschild LLP, 615 F.3d 159, 176 (3d Cir. 2010).

Whether allegations in a complaint are plausible is "a context specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1950. Accordingly, a claim has facial plausibility 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. at 1940 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Further, a complaint should be dismissed for failure to show that the movant is entitled to relief pursuant to Rule 8(a)(2), if the "well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct." Id. at 1950.

DISCUSSION

MOTION TO DISMISS

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

A plaintiff must file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and wait 180 days until bringing suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"). 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5; see also Waiters v. Parsons,729 F.2d 233, 237 (3d Cir. 1984). "It is a basic tenet of administrative law that a plaintiff must exhaust all required administrative remedies before bringing a claim for judicial relief." Robinson v. Dalton, 107 F.3d 1018, 1020 (3d Cir. 1997) (quoting McKart v. United States, 395 U.S. 185, 193 (1969)). The administrative requirement provides the charged party with notice and allows the EEOC an opportunity to resolve the dispute without resorting to litigation. Id. With that purpose, "requiring exhaustion is to afford the EEOC the opportunity to settle disputes through conference, conciliation, and persuasion, avoiding unnecessary action in court." Antol v. Perry, 82 F.3d 1291, 1296 (3d Cir. 1996). Consequently, non-exhaustion of administrative remedies constitutes a basis for dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Phillips v. Sheraton Soc'y Hill, 163 Fed. Appx. 93, 94 (3d Cir. 2005).

Title VII requires exhaustion of all available administrative remedies. Here, Plaintiff brings a claim for racial discrimination and hostile work environment under Title VII, but at no point in the pleadings does Plaintiff indicate that he filed a charge against Defendants with the EEOC. Because Plaintiff failed to exhaust the ...


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