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Juarez-Galvan v. United Parcel Service

United States District Court, Tenth Circuit

January 8, 2014

GUSTOAVO M. JUAREZ-GALVAN, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

SAM A. CROW, Senior District Judge.

This Title VII case comes before the court on Defendant's motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. Defendant contends that this suit is barred by the doctrine of claim splitting because Plaintiff should have included in a prior lawsuit it the claims he makes in this case. That case was Gustoavo M. Juarez-Galvan v. United Parcel Service, No. 10-4145-WEB ( Juarez I ). Alternatively, Defendant contends that most of Plaintiff's claims are time-barred because they occurred more than 300 days before Plaintiff filed his relevant administrative charge with the Kansas Human Rights Commission (KHRC)/EEOC, and that the only timely claim raises no inference of discrimination and states no basis for employer liability. Plaintiff opposes the motion, but for the reasons stated below the Court grants it.

Motion to Dismiss Standard

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must have facial plausibility.

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Id. [ Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)) at 570. 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 556. The plausibility standard is not akin to a "probability requirement, " but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a Defendant has acted unlawfully. Id . Where a complaint pleads facts that are "merely consistent with" a Defendant's liability, it "stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Id. at 557.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868, 884 (2009) . "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. "[C]ourts should look to the specific allegations in the complaint to determine whether they plausibly support a legal claim for relief." Alvarado v. KOB-TV, L.L.C., 493 F.3d 1210, 1215 n. 2 (10th Cir. 2007). "While the 12(b)(6) standard does not require that Plaintiff establish a prima facie case in [his] complaint, the elements of each alleged cause of action help to determine whether Plaintiff has set forth a plausible claim." Khalik v. United Air Lines, 671 F.3d 1188, 2012 WL 364058, at *3 (10th Cir. Feb. 6, 2012).

"The court's function on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is not to weigh potential evidence that the parties might present at trial, but to assess whether the plaintiff's... complaint alone is legally sufficient to state a claim for which relief may be granted." Miller v. Glanz, 948 F.2d 1562, 1565 (10th Cir. 1991). The court accepts all well-pled factual allegations as true and views these allegations in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. United States v. Smith, 561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th Cir. 2009), cert. denied, 558 U.S. 1148 (2010). The court, however, is not under a duty to accept legal conclusions as true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. "Thus, mere labels and conclusions' and formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action' will not suffice." Khalik, 2012 WL 364058, at *2 (10th Cir. Feb.6, 2012) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court is limited to assessing the legal sufficiency of the allegations contained within the four corners of the complaint. Archuleta v. Wagner, 523 F.3d 1278, 1281 (10th Cir. 2008). Accordingly, the Court disregards the affidavit attached to Plaintiff's brief.[1] But in considering the complaint in its entirety, the Court also examines any documents "incorporated into the complaint by reference, " Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322, 127 S.Ct. 2499, 168 L.Ed.2d 179 (2007), and documents attached to the complaint, Rosenfield v. HSBC Bank, USA, 681 F.3d 1172, 1189 (10th Cir. 2012) (quotations and citations omitted). Thus the Court considers Plaintiff's administrative charge and right to sue letter. See Dk. 1.

Additionally, a court may take judicial notice of facts which are a matter of public record, Tal v. Hogan, 453 F.3d 1244, 1264 n. 24 (10th Cir. 2006), and of state court documents, Pace v. Swerdlow, 519 F.3d 1067, 1072-73 (10th Cir. 2008). Accordingly, this Court takes judicial notice of the record in Juarez I, finding the requirements of Fed.R.Evid. 201 to be met. See Fed.R.Evid. 201; Shuttlesworth v. City of Birmingham, Ala., 394 U.S. 147, 157, 89 S.Ct. 935 (1969); St. Louis Baptist Temple, Inc. v. FDIC, 605 F.2d 1169, 1172 (10th Cir. 1979) ("[F]ederal courts, in appropriate circumstances, may take notice of proceedings in other courts, both within and without the federal judicial system, if those proceedings have a direct relation to matters at issue."). And the Court does so without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. See Grynberg v. Koch Gateway Pipeline Co., 390 F.3d 1276, 1278 n. 1 (10th Cir. 2004) (facts subject to judicial notice may be considered without converting a motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment); Turner v. City of Tulsa, 525 Fed.Appx. 771, 773 (10th Cir. 2013) (same).

Uncontested Facts

The Court finds a short chronology of relevant events to be helpful.

05/13/09 - Plaintiff files his first KHRC/EEOC charge, alleging discrimination

08/05/10 - EEOC issues Plaintiff a right to sue letter on his first KHRC/EEOC charge.

11/02/10 - Plaintiff files Juarez I in state court.

11/29/10 - Defendant removes Juarez I to federal court.

11/03/11 - Plaintiff files his second KHRC/EEOC charge, including acts occurring on November 2, 2009, November 3, 2009, June 15, 2010, and July 15, 2011.

11/04/11 - Judge in Juarez I conducts a telephone scheduling conference, grants plaintiff's request for additional time to amend his Complaint to include retaliation and hostile work environment claims, so amends scheduling order.

12/30/11 - Deadline for Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint in Juarez I. Plaintiff does not amend his complaint to include retaliation or hostile work environment claims.

04/16/12 - Pretrial Order filed in Juarez I stating only one claim - failure to promote.

05/03/12 - 180 days run after Plaintiff's second KHRC/EEOC charge.

10/02/13 - KHRC issues a No Probable Cause determination and closes its file on Plaintiff's second KHRC charge.

10/10/12 - Summary judgment motions become ripe in Juarez I.

01/23/13 - EEOC issues Plaintiff a right to sue letter on ...


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