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Miller v. Caldera

March 19, 2001

LIEUTENANT COLONEL ARTHUR D. MILLER PLAINTIFF,
v.
LOUIS CALDERA, SECRETARY OF THE ARMY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Royce C. Lamberth United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Now before the Court is the defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings or for summary judgment. The plaintiff, a white male, alleges that he was several times denied a promotion by the defendant's affirmative action policies. The plaintiff opposes the defendant's motion and moves for immediate leave to commence discovery. After a full consideration of the parties' memoranda and the applicable law, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the defendant's motion.

BACKGROUND

Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Miller serves in the United States Army Reserve on the retired list. For four consecutive years (1992-1995), he applied for a promotion to the rank of colonel. In each year, the Army's Order of Merit Board ("Merit Board") denied him a promotion. LTC Miller alleges that his failure to be promoted was caused by the Merit Board's "giving of special consideration to minorities and women." Complaint for Miller, Dec, 23, 1999, at ¶ 20.

The Army claims that it is entitled to judgment on the pleadings, or in the alternative, to summary judgment. Specifically, the Army argues that Miller does not have standing to pursue his claim, since he would not have received a promotion even in the absence of the equal opportunity policies. As well, the Army argues that the application of the equal opportunity policies in question did not put him on an unequal footing with other candidates.

ANALYSIS

II. The Plaintiff's Claim Based on the Army's Equal Opportunity Policy

The Court finds that the plaintiff's complaint states a claim for which relief can be granted and therefore denies the defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings.

It is axiomatic in the era of notice pleading that a plaintiff need only provide "a short, plain statement of the claim" such that "the defendant [will have] fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Sparrow v. United Air Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, (D.C. Cir. 2000) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)); see also Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). Thus, a complaint "need not plead law or match facts to every element of a legal theory." Krieger v. Fadely, 211 F.3d 134, 136 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (quoting Bennett v. Schmidt, 153 F.3d 516, 518 (7th Cir.1998)); see also Caribbean Broad. Sys., Ltd. v. Cable & Wireless P.L.C., 148 F.3d 1080, 1086 (D.C.Cir.1998) ("[A] plaintiff need not allege all the facts necessary to prove its claim."); Atchinson v. District of Columbia, 73 F.3d 418, 421-22 (D.C.Cir.1996) ("A complaint ... need not allege all that a plaintiff must eventually prove.").

As Judge Easterbrook put it in the employment discrimination context: Because racial discrimination in employment is 'a claim upon which relief can be granted,'.... 'I was turned down for a job because of my race' is all a complaint has to say to survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Sparrow, 216 F.3d at 1114 (quoting Bennett, 153 F.3d at 518).

The Court finds that the plaintiff has met this minimal threshold. Racial and gender discrimination in promotion are, of course, claims "upon which relief can be granted," and the plaintiff's statement that the defendant's racial and gender preferences denied him a promotion thus squarely states a claim. *fn1

III. The Plaintiff's Claim for an Injunction Enjoining the Army from Practicing its Equal Opportunity Policy

Although the Court finds that the plaintiff properly states a claim, the Court nonetheless finds that the plaintiff lacks standing to seek a prospective injunction. ...


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