United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
RUDOLPH CONTRERAS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Kojo Amissah, proceeding pro se, brought this action
by filing a “Petition for Review of Agency
Decision” against his employer, Defendant Gallaudet
University. Gallaudet has moved to dismiss, arguing that
Amissah has failed to plead sufficient facts to state a claim
for relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
For the reasons explained below, the Court grants
Gallaudet's motion. Amissah's claims are dismissed
without prejudice, but he is granted leave to file an amended
initiated this matter by filing a “Petition for Review
of Agency Decision” with the D.C. Superior Court. The
Petition purports to appeal a “Notice of Right to
Sue” (“RTS Order”) from the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued
under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 2000e to 2000e-17; the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C.
§§ 12101-12103; or the Genetic Information
Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”), 42 U.S.C.
§§ 2000ff to 2000ff-11. See Ex. 1 at 1,
ECF No. 1- 1. The RTS Order, which is attached to the
Petition, indicates that, on November 6, 2018, the EEOC
stopped processing Amissah's charge. See Id.
When prompted for a “concise statement of the Agency
proceedings and the decision as to which review is sought and
the nature of the relief requested by petitioner, ” the
Petition states only “[d]iscrimination and financial
settlement.” See id. at 1. The Petition
provides no further factual allegations. See id.
removing to this Court, Gallaudet moved to dismiss for
failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6). See Def.'s Mot. Dismiss, ECF
No. 5. In his Opposition to that motion, Amissah added new
factual allegations to “further explain [his]
charge” of “discrimination” under Title
VII. See Pl.'s Opp'n Mot. Dismiss at 1, ECF
No. 7. The Opposition alleges that Gallaudet intentionally
withheld opportunities from him because he is a deaf
African-American male who advocated for diversity and
inclusion in the workplace. See Id. at 2. It also
claims that management treated him “differently than .
. . white . . . females with much less experience and
education.” See Id. According to Amissah,
“evidence, after an informal inquiry, clearly shows
that Gallaudet . . . [used] a prohibited personnel
policy” to deny him equal employment opportunities.
See Id. at 1.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint
contain “a short and plain statement of the
claim” in order to give the defendant fair notice of
the claim and the grounds upon which it rests. Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2); see also Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
93 (2007) (per curiam). A motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6) does not test a plaintiff's ultimate likelihood
of success on the merits; rather, it tests whether a
plaintiff has properly stated a claim. See Scheuer v.
Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). A court considering
such a motion presumes that the complaint's factual
allegations are true and construes them liberally in the
plaintiff's favor. See, e.g., United States
v. Philip Morris, Inc., 116 F.Supp.2d 131, 135 (D.D.C.
2000). It also is not necessary for the plaintiff to plead
all elements of his prima facie case in the complaint.
See, e.g., Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534
U.S. 506, 515 (2002); Bryant v. Pepco, 730 F.Supp.2d
25, 28 (D.D.C. 2010).
“[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, 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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). This means that a plaintiff's
factual allegations “must be enough to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that
all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if
doubtful in fact).” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555-56 (citations omitted). “Threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, ” are therefore insufficient.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A court need not
accept a plaintiff's legal conclusions as true, see
id., nor must it presume the veracity of legal
conclusions that are couched as factual allegations. See
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
considering a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), a court is
generally limited to the four corners of the complaint and
any “documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by
reference in the complaint.” Ward v. D.C. Dep't
of Youth Rehab. Servs., 768 F.Supp.2d 117, 119 (D.D.C.
2011) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting
Gustave-Schmidt v. Chao, 226 F.Supp.2d 191, 196
(D.D.C. 2002)). But a pro se plaintiff's
pleadings must be “considered in toto”
to determine whether they “set out allegations
sufficient to survive dismissal.” Brown v. Whole
Foods Mkt. Grp., Inc., 789 F.3d 146, 151 (D.C. Cir.
2015) (reversing the district court because it failed to
consider allegations found in a pro se
plaintiff's opposition to a motion to dismiss). Still, a
pro se plaintiff, must “plead ‘factual
matter' that permits the court to infer ‘more than
the mere possibility of misconduct.'” Mazza v.
Verizon Wash. DC, Inc., 852 F.Supp.2d 28, 33 (D.D.C.
2012) (quoting Atherton v. D.C. Office of Mayor, 567
F.3d 672, 681-82 (D.C. Cir. 2009)). That is, a court must
determine whether, accepting the pro se
plaintiff's factual contentions as true and drawing all
inferences in his favor, the plaintiff has alleged factual
content in his complaint that “allows the court to draw
the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
has moved to dismiss here on two independent grounds. First,
it argues that Amissah has not plead sufficient factual
matter to present a claim upon which relief can be granted.
See Def.'s Mot. at 2-3. Second, Gallaudet argues
that Amissah cannot seek judicial review of the EEOC's
action under the D.C. Superior Court's Agency Review
Rules. See Id. at 3-4. As explained below, the Court
finds that the first of these arguments has merit. The Court
therefore grants Gallaudet's motion without addressing
alluded to above, pro se litigants must comply with
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Jarrell v.
Tisch, 656 F.Supp. 237, 239 (D.D.C. 1987). And Rule 8(a)
requires that a complaint contain “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a); see also Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 677-78. In this case, Amissah's Petition
fails to meet this minimal pleading requirement because it is
devoid of any factual allegations whatsoever. Amissah uses
one word-“discrimination”-to describe the nature
of his claim. But he fails to demonstrate why he is entitled
to relief. Without more definitive information about the type
of claim Amissah intends to pursue, it would be impossible
for Gallaudet to prepare a suitable defense. See Brown v.
Califano, 75 F.R.D. 497, 498 (D.D.C. 1977) (finding the
purpose of the Rule 8 standard is to ensure defendants
receive fair notice of the claim being asserted so they can
prepare an adequate defense).
additional allegations in Amissah's Opposition do not
cure this deficiency, either.The Opposition introduces new
facts and includes claims of retaliation, race
discrimination, and sex discrimination under Title VII.
See generally Pl.'s Opp'n. These factual
allegations are still unclear, though, and lack specificity.
According to Amissah, evidence clearly shows that Gallaudet
used a prohibited personnel policy to deny him equal
employment opportunities, and claims to know this after
conducting “an informal inquiry.” See
Id. at 1. He also alleges that management treated him
“differently than . . . white . . . females with much
less experience and education.” See Id. at 2.
But the Opposition provides no specific facts regarding the
Gallaudet policy at issue or the particular opportunities it
allegedly denied Amissah in favor of his co-workers. In order