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Davenport v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

July 9, 2014



JULIE A. ROBINSON], District Judge.

Plaintiff Aleshea Davenport, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis , filed this employment discrimination action against Defendant Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. based on three federal claims: (1) Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), (2) the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), and (3) the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"). Plaintiff also asserts a malicious prosecution claim under state law. This case comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 11). The matter is fully briefed and the Court is prepared to rule. For the reasons stated below, the Court denies Defendant's motion without prejudice.

I. Standards

Because Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, the court must construe her pleadings liberally and apply a less stringent standard than that which is applicable to attorneys.[1] However, the court may not provide additional factual allegations "to round out a plaintiff's complaint or construct a legal theory on a plaintiff's behalf."[2] The court need only accept as true the plaintiff's "well-pleaded factual contentions, not his conclusory allegations."[3] Additionally, a pro se litigant is not excused from complying with the rules of the court and is subject to the consequences of noncompliance.

1. 12(b)(1)

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and, as such, must have a statutory or Constitutional basis to exercise jurisdiction.[4] A court lacking jurisdiction must dismiss the case, regardless of the stage of the proceeding, when it becomes apparent that jurisdiction is lacking.[5] The party who seeks to invoke federal jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing that such jurisdiction is proper.[6] "Thus, plaintiff bears the burden of showing why the case should not be dismissed."[7] Mere conclusory allegations of jurisdiction are not enough.[8]

Generally, a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction takes one of two forms: a facial attack or a factual attack.

First, a facial attack on the complaint's allegations as to subject matter jurisdiction questions the sufficiency of the complaint. In reviewing a facial attack on the complaint, a district court must accept the allegations in the complaint as true.[9] Second, a party may go beyond allegations contained in the complaint and challenge the facts upon which subject matter jurisdiction depends. When reviewing a factual attack on subject matter jurisdiction, a district court may not presume the truthfulness of the complaint's factual allegations. A court has wide discretion to allow affidavits, other documents, and a limited evidentiary hearing to resolve disputed jurisdictional facts under Rule 12(b)(1).[10]

2. 12(b)(6)

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must present factual allegations, assumed to be true, that "raise a right to relief above the speculative level" and must contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."[11] Under this standard, "the complaint must give the court reason to believe that this plaintiff has a reasonable likelihood of mustering factual support for these claims."[12] The plausibility standard does not require a showing of probability that "a defendant has acted unlawfully, "[13] but requires more than "a sheer possibility."[14]

The plausibility standard enunciated in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly [15] seeks a middle ground between heightened fact pleading and "allowing complaints that are no more than labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, ' which the Court stated will not do.'"[16] Twombly does not change other principles, such as that a court must accept all factual allegations as true and may not dismiss on the ground that it appears unlikely the allegations can be proven.[17]

The Supreme Court has explained the analysis as a two-step process. For the purposes of a motion to dismiss, the court "must take all the factual allegations in the complaint as true, [but] we are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.'"[18] Thus, the court must first determine if the allegations are factual and entitled to an assumption of truth, or merely legal conclusions that are not entitled to an assumption of truth.[19] Second, the court must determine whether the factual allegations, when assumed true, "plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief."[20] "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."[21]

3. 12(b)(5)

When a defendant moves to dismiss an action because of insufficiency of service of process, the plaintiff has the burden of proving the validity of service of process.[22] Service of process must be effected in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ...

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