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Hilliard v. International City/County Management Association-Retirement Corp.

United States District Court, District of Columbia

October 12, 2012

Jacqueline HILLIARD, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
INTERNATIONAL CITY/COUNTY MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION-RETIREMENT CORPORATION, Defendant.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Donald M. Temple, Donald M. Temple, P.C., Elvin Ned Sloan, Sloan & Associates, PLLC, Washington, DC, Morris Eli Fischer, Law Office of Morris E. Fischer, LLC, Silver Spring, MD, for Plaintiffs.

Frank Charles Morris, Jr., Drea R. Calem, Epstein, Becker & Green, P.C., Washington, DC, for Defendant.

ORDER AND MEMORANDUM OPINION ON MOTION TO DISMISS

BARBARA J. ROTHSTEIN, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a motion to dismiss, or, in the alternative,

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motion to strike, by Defendant International City/County Management Association— Retirement Corporation (hereinafter " ICMA-RC" ). See Dkt. # 57. Plaintiffs are African-American employees and former employees of ICMA-RC. Five of the plaintiffs— Jacqueline Hilliard, Karen Robinson, Cynthia Tolliver, Joyce Namasaka, and Audrey Travers (the " Hilliard Plaintiffs" )— allege that ICMA-RC discriminated against them on the basis of their race and sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ; the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and 1870, as amended and codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1981; and provisions of the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206, as amended. The three remaining plaintiffs— Shawnclive Crandon, Ronald Gordon, Jr., and Michelle Dallas (the " Crandon Plaintiffs" )— allege that ICMA-RC discriminated against them on the basis of their race in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Plaintiffs further allege that ICMA-RC retaliated against them for complaining about such discrimination. In light of the pleadings and supporting briefs, ICMA-RC's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. LEGAL STANDARD

A. Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a defendant may file a motion to dismiss to test " the sufficiency of the allegations within the four corners of the complaint after taking those allegations as true." In re Interbank Fund. Corp. Sec. Litig., 668 F.Supp.2d 44, 47-48 (D.D.C.2009) (citing Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 40 L.Ed.2d 90 (1974)); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Ambiguities must be resolved in favor of the plaintiff, giving him the benefit of every reasonable inference drawn from the well-pleaded facts and allegations in the complaint. In re Interbank Fund. Corp. Sec. Litig., 668 F.Supp.2d at 47-48.

To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint must plead sufficient facts that, taken as true, provide " plausible grounds" that discovery will reveal evidence to support the plaintiff's allegations. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (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 alleged misconduct." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955). Moreover, " [a] pleading that offers ‘ labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Nor does the complaint suffice if it tenders ‘ naked assertion[s]’ devoid of ‘ further factual enhancement.’ " Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (citation omitted).

" The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘ probability requirement,’ but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. (citation omitted). Although the court must construe the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, the court is not required to accept factual inferences that are unsupported by facts or legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations. City of Harper Woods Emps' Ret. Sys. v. Olver, 589 F.3d 1292, 1298 (D.C.Cir.2009). The court's function is not to weigh potential evidence that the parties might present at a later stage, but to assess whether the pleading alone is legally sufficient to state a claim for which relief may be granted. Caribbean Broad. Sys., Ltd. v. Cable & Wireless PLC, 148 F.3d 1080, 1086 (D.C.Cir.1998). " Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short

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of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

Because the court's review of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is based upon consideration of the allegations contained in the operative complaint, the court will not consider extraneous documents attached or referenced by any party, or additional factual assertions contained therein, except under limited circumstances. See generally Hinton v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 624 F.Supp.2d 45, 46 (D.D.C.2009); Gustave-Schmidt v. Chao, 226 F.Supp.2d 191, 196 (D.D.C.2002).[1]

B. Rule 12(f) Motion to Strike

Although motions to strike are generally disfavored, a court has " liberal discretion" to strike such matter as it considers appropriate under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f). Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f); see Pigford v. Veneman, 215 F.R.D. 2, 4 (D.D.C.2003) (quoting Stanbury Law Firm v. IRS, 221 F.3d 1059, 1063 (8th Cir.2000)). A court may strike claims that attempt to circumvent earlier decisions by that court denying such claims. See Cambridge Toxicology Group v. Exnicios, 495 F.3d 169, 178 (5th Cir.2007). A court may also strike a claim if the relief claimed is unavailable under the applicable law. See 2 James Wm. Moore et al., Moore's Federal Practice ¶ 12.37 (3d ed. 2004).

II. BACKGROUND

The first Complaint in this case was filed on December 18, 2008. Plaintiffs sought twice to certify a class, but were unsuccessful. See Memorandum Opinion and Order of Feb. 2, 2010 (dkt. # 20). Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint on July 14, 2010 (dkt. # 30). The case was transferred to this Court from Judge Friedman on September 1, 2011. The First Amended Complaint was dismissed by this Court on November 23, 2011, for failure to advance any individual claims. Order (dkt. # 51) at 12. This Court granted Plaintiffs " a final opportunity to amend their Complaint" to assert individual claims of retaliation under 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Id. at 13. The Final Joint Amended Complaint (" FJAC" ) was filed on December 20, 2011. See Dkt. # 53. The Defendant filed this motion shortly thereafter. ...


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