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Stovall v. Grazioli

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

June 10, 2019

FLAVIA STOVALL, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES GRAZIOLI, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          RENÉE MARIE BUMB United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court upon a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Flavia Stovall's Amended Complaint, filed by the office of the Attorney General of New Jersey, on behalf of all Defendants [Dkt. No. 11]. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint [Dkt. No. 29] attempts to assert discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”), and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This Court previously dismissed Plaintiff's initial Complaint, noting a failure to explain how the underlying conduct provides Plaintiff with an entitlement to relief. [See Dkt. Nos. 25, 26]. Upon Defendants' motion, the Court finds that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint fails to remedy the deficiencies outlined in the Court's prior Opinion. Therefore, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss will be GRANTED and Plaintiff's Amended Complaint will be DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         To withstand a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)(quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “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 662. “[A]n unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation” does not suffice to survive a motion to dismiss. Id. at 678. “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)).

         In reviewing a plaintiff's allegations, the district court “must accept as true all well-pled factual allegations as well as all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from them, and construe those allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Bistrian v. Levi, 696 F.3d 352, 358 n.1 (3d Cir. 2012). When undertaking this review, courts are limited to the allegations found in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, and undisputedly authentic documents that form the basis of a claim. See In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997); Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993).

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY & DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff Flavia Stovall is an African American woman who has been employed by the New Jersey Judiciary, Camden Vicinage (the “Camden Vicinage”) since December 1998 and was 59 years old at the time she filed this action. See Am. Compl., at ¶ 4. As stated in her Amended Complaint, Defendants in this action are her employer (the Camden Vicinage) and two of her supervisors (Jeffrey Wiesemann and Luis Perez). Although two additional defendants are listed in the case caption (James Grazioli and Gilberto Velasquez), they are not listed as defendants in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. See Am. Compl., at ¶¶ 5-7. This action is the latest in a long line of disputes between Plaintiff and her employers, including the Camden Vicinage. In addition to suing her employer in both state and federal court on multiple occasions, Plaintiff has also filed numerous internal complaints and EEOC complaints against the Camden Vicinage. See Compl. ¶¶ 16-20.

         Plaintiff, who at the time was proceeding pro se, filed her initial Complaint in this matter on August 9, 2016, bringing claims for (1) discrimination and retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. (“Title VII”); (2) discrimination and retaliation in violation of N.J.S.A. § 10:5-1., et seq. (the “NJLAD”); (3) “malicious acts”; (4) violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment-brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”); and (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress. In response, Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff's initial complaint. On June 19, 2017, while the first motions to dismiss were pending, Plaintiff retained Clifford G. Stewart as counsel.

         Ultimately, on August 29, 2018, this Court dismissed Plaintiff's initial Complaint. Plaintiff's Complaint was construed liberally, because it was filed while Plaintiff was proceeding pro se, but the Court found that it failed to meet the basic pleading requirements under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In relevant part, this Court stated:

“Plaintiff's Complaint consists of 91 paragraphs-many of which contain subparagraphs-of single spaced text. In it, Plaintiff delves into minute details of dozens of interactions she had with several Defendants. Plaintiff's complaint reads more like a daily log of her issues with management than a short and plain statement of any grounds for legal relief. It is unclear from Plaintiff's excessively detailed Complaint what conduct, and by which Defendants, she alleges is legally actionable-i.e., discriminatory or retaliatory as opposed to simply rude or unfair-and what conduct is simply provided as background information. Moreover, Plaintiff refers often to her former suits and EEOC complaints in a manner that makes it unclear where this Complaint begins and those already concluded matters end. In the end, Plaintiff's Complaint is so “excessively voluminous and unfocused” that it “defies any attempt to meaningfully answer or plead to it.” Binsack v. Lackawanna Cty. Prison, 438 Fed.Appx. 158, 160 (3d Cir. 2011). Accordingly, the Complaint will be dismissed, without prejudice.
“Plaintiff will be afforded an opportunity to amend the Complaint, this time with the assistance of counsel. Any amended complaint should comport with Rule 8's requirement of “simple, concise, and direct” averments and need not delve into such explicit detail that it becomes overly burdensome for the Court or Defendants to determine the grounds on which Plaintiff seeks relief. Should she choose to amend and continue to pursue this matter, Plaintiff should focus on the facts that she believes give rise to a cause of action in this suit, specifically identifying which Defendants are alleged to have taken which acts and on what grounds those acts provide Plaintiff with an entitlement to relief.”
[See Dkt. No. 25, at 5-6]. With the assistance of counsel, Plaintiff filed her Amended Complaint on September 28, 2018.

         III. DISCUSSION

         On November 14, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint, arguing that, once again, it fails to comply with the Court's pleading rules. See Defendants' Brief in Support of the Motion to Dismiss (the ...


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