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Boyd v. Keystone Construction

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

October 14, 2014

NORETTA F. BOYD, Plaintiff,
KEYSTONE CONSTRUCTION, et al., Defendants.


WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, District Judge.

This cause is before the Court on several pending motions, all of which are ripe for review. The Court, being duly advised, rules as follows.


Only one Defendant remains in this action, Keystone Construction Corporation ("Keystone"). Keystone moves to dismiss Plaintiff Noretta F. Boyd's Complaint in its entirety.

A. Preliminary Matters

Before the Court addresses the arguments raised in Keystone's motion, there are two arguments made by Boyd, who is proceeding pro se in this action, that need to be addressed in order to put the Court's ruling in the proper framework.

First, Boyd repeatedly argues that Keystone has "default[ed] on providing an answer" in this case. That is incorrect. Instead of serving an answer, Keystone filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Serving a motion under Rule 12 alters the time period for filing an answer as set forth in Rule 12(a)(4). Indeed, it would have been improper for Keystone to file an answer responding to claims that it was seeking to dismiss.

Second, Boyd is incorrect that the Court "may dismiss a claim only when it is clear that no relief can be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations found in the complaint." In a case called Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007), the Supreme Court replaced that standard, which used to apply to motions under Rule 12(b)(6), with a new standard. Now "[i]n order to survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must allege sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. And while we draw all reasonable inferences and facts in favor of the nonmovant, we need not accept as true any legal assertions or recital of the elements of a cause of action supported by mere conclusory statements." Vesely v. Armslist LLC, 762 F.3d 661, 664-65 (7th Cir. 2014) (citing Twombly and other cases). That said, however, "the pleading standards for pro se plaintiffs are considerably relaxed, " even under the new rule. Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1027 (7th Cir. 2013). Complaints drafted by pro se litigants are construed liberally and held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by lawyers. Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011).

It is with that standard in mind that the Court must review the allegations in Boyd's Complaint.

B. Facts Alleged in Boyd's Complaint

The relevant facts[1] alleged in Boyd's Complaint are as follow. Boyd, who had many years of experience in the electrical design, engineering, and MEP (which the Court presumes refers to mechanical, electrical and plumbing) construction management industry, established her own consulting firm in 2005. Her work often involved "evaluating and reporting inconsistent cost proposals, " which put her in an adversarial relationship with the companies whose proposals she was evaluating, including ERMCO Electric and Power Partners MasTec. Boyd experienced unspecified "personal and professional retaliation in the building industry" as a result.

On September 27, 2012, Keystone offered Boyd the position of "Project Manager- Wishard Hospital Electrical Services." The "New Wishard Project, " as Boyd refers to it, was a "public project"; Boyd does not specify whether federal funds, state funds, or both were used for the project. As project manager, "Boyd was informed she would be managing Divane/Wesco/Eaton and ERMCO/Wesco/Eaton, " both of which she was familiar with from her previous employment. As Boyd explains it:

Upon inception into the New Wishard Project, Ms. Boyd immediately experienced the impact and retaliation of prior employment and internal complaints and the effort to redirect her career on The New Wishard Project and ultimately out of the construction industry. Ms. Boyd voiced concerns about inconsistencies with cost proposals she was asked to review and reported verbally and by email, to both The New Wishard Team Management and Keystone Construction Executives, on several documented occasions. On August 13, 2013, Ms. Boyd wrote and presented a letter detailing those discrepancies and the impact it has and was having on her personal and professional career to the New Wishard Team Management.
Ms. Boyd reported to Mr. Seta and Mr. Paul Riehle, while managing Divane Bros and ERMCO bid packages. Ms. Boyd endured gender/role based bullying, harassment and retaliation and believes the team strategized to end Ms. Boyd's employment on The New Wishard Project and deliberately give a negative perception of her ...

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