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Cynthia Sims-Felton v. Sylvia Hegedus

April 30, 2013


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


Presently before the Court is the motion of defendants Sylvia Hegedus, Gloria J. Hoffman, Cathy McGuire, and Lillian Swanson ("individual defendants") to dismiss all the claims of plaintiff, Cynthia Sims-Felton, against them. For the reasons expressed below, all of plaintiff's claims, even those against Showboat, will be dismissed.


Plaintiff, Cynthia Sims-Felton, now appearing pro se, claims that her employer, Showboat Atlantic City Operating Company, L.L.C., operating as the Showboat Casino Hotel ("Showboat"), and her co-workers, the individual defendants, discriminated and defamed her by: (1) calling her racial slurs and making derogatory gestures, (2) falsely accusing her of making a threatening remark, (3) harassing her, (4) slandering her, and (5) giving her a poor evaluation and a union grievance write-up based on these interactions.*fn1

Showboat filed an Answer to plaintiff's Amended Complaint, but the individual defendants moved to dismiss plaintiff's claims because they argue that plaintiff's state law claims are inextricably intertwined with her union's collective bargaining agreement. As such, the individual defendants contend that plaintiff's claims are therefore preempted by Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. § 185. The individual defendants further argue that because plaintiff's state law claims are preempted by the LMRA, she is required to first exhaust her contractually mandated grievance procedures prior to bringing suit. Because plaintiff has not alleged or otherwise demonstrated that she exhausted the union's grievance procedures before she filed suit against them, the individual defendants contend that her claims must be dismissed.

After the individual defendants filed their motion, plaintiff, without leave of court or consent by the parties, filed a Second Amended Complaint, in which she incorporated her prior Amended Complaint by reference, and added a "Section 301 Hybrid claim." After filing her opposition to the individual defendants' motion, plaintiff then sent the Court a letter, wherein she (1) purported to withdraw her claims against Showboat in order to pursue the administrative procedures of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and (2) appeared to withdraw the claims that must be brought pursuant to Section 301 of the LMRA.

Finding that it was not entirely clear if plaintiff intended to voluntarily dismiss all claims against all parties, the Court issued an Order to Show Cause directing plaintiff to advise the Court whether she intended to voluntarily dismiss all claims against all parties, and if not, which claims she continued to assert against which parties. The Court also noted that plaintiff's "Second Amended Complaint" would not be considered for review because it was procedurally improper.

Plaintiff responded to the Order to Show Cause that she did not intend to voluntarily dismiss any of her claims against any of the parties. Since that time, however, plaintiff has sent two additional letters to the Court. One letter requests to add a "Section 301 Hybrid claim" to her Amended Complaint.*fn2

Plaintiff's other letter requests that the Court dismiss her discrimination claims from her Amended Complaint. The individual defendants and Showboat have challenged all of plaintiff's requests.


This action was removed to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b). Defendant Showboat contends that this Court has original jurisdiction in this case under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because claims in plaintiff's complaint arise under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185.*fn3 This Court exercises supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367.


When considering a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court must accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 351 (3d Cir. 2005). It is well settled that a pleading is sufficient if it contains "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Under the liberal federal pleading rules, it is not necessary to plead evidence, and it is not necessary to plead all the facts that serve as a basis for the claim. Bogosian v. Gulf Oil Corp., 562 F.2d 434, 446 (3d Cir. 1977). However, "[a]lthough the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require a claimant to set forth an intricately detailed description of the asserted basis for relief, they do require that the pleadings give defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Baldwin Cnty. Welcome Ctr. v. Brown, 466 U.S. 147, 149-50 n.3 (1984)(quotation and citation omitted).

A district court, in weighing a motion to dismiss, asks "'not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claim.'" Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 563 n.8 (2007) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhoades, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009) ("Our decision in Twombly expounded the pleading standard for 'all civil actions' . . . ."); Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) ("Iqbal . ...

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