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Yates v. Jackson County Juvenile Detention Center

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division

January 25, 2017

DARRELL ANTHONY YATES, Plaintiff,
v.
JACKSON COUNTY JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER, Defendant.

          ENTRY ON DEFENDANT'S PARTIAL MOTION TO DISMISS

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         Before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant Jackson County Juvenile Detention Center (“Jackson County”), pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). On March 17, 2016, after just ten days of employment, Jackson County terminated pro se Plaintiff Darrell Anthony Yates (“Yates”). Thereafter, on March 25, 2016, Yates filed a Complaint against Jackson County, alleging he was subjected to a hostile work environment and wrongly terminated after overhearing his co-workers and supervisors making “abusive, profane and [] sexual comments” in the work place. (Filing No. 1.) Jackson County now seeks to dismiss Yates' Complaint for failure to state a claim. (Filing No. 9.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Jackson County's Partial Motion to Dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Yates accepted a position with Jackson County in March 2016. On March 9, 2016, while at work, Yates witnessed his co-workers and supervisors make abusive, profane and sexual comments regarding inmates and others. It is unclear from the Complaint whether Yates complained about the comments, however, the following day Yates' supervisors apologized for the inappropriate language and behavior. On March 14, 2016, one of Yates' co-workers, Sue Gans, again used profane language, as well as prevented Yates from speaking with and mentoring a juvenile, which is an important facet of an officer's job and policy. It is again unclear from the Complaint whether Yates complained about his co-worker's behavior, however, on March 17, 2016, Yates' supervisor terminated him after Sue Gans stated that “[Yates] was going to step on anyone's feet [he] had to to get what [he] wanted.” Yates' supervisor did not investigate the statement prior to terminating Yates.

         On March 25, 2016, eight days after Yates' termination, Yates filed a Complaint against Jackson County, alleging that he was subjected to a hostile work environment and wrongly terminated. (Filing No. 1.) Yates also contends that Jackson County violated state ethics when using profanity in the workplace. Id. On March 30, 2016 the Court granted Yates motion to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) and dismissed all claims against individual supervisors and co-workers. (Filing No. 4) Thereafter, on April 11, 2016, Yates filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). (Filing No. 11 at 2.) On May 31, 2016, Jackson County filed a motion requesting that the Court dismiss Yates' Complaint for failure to state a cause and failure to exhaust all remedies. (Filing No. 9.)

         On August 10, 2016, the EEOC issued its Order denying Yates' claim, triggering Yates' right to bring a civil lawsuit. (Filing No. 11 at 2.) After the EEOC's decision, on September 14, 2016, Jackson County voluntarily withdrew its motion to dismiss Yates' sexual harassment claim, contending that the argument is moot because Yates exhausted all administrative remedies as required by 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5. Accordingly, Jackson County's Motion to Dismiss regards only Yates' wrongful termination and violation of state ethics claims. On October 15, 2016, after Yates failed to respond, the Court issued an Order extending the response deadline to November 7, 2016. (Filing No. 15.) To date, Yates has not responded to Jackson County's Motion to Dismiss.

         II. LEGAL ANALYSIS

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) authorizes a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint that fails to “state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court construes the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accepts all factual allegations as true, and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008). However, courts “are not obliged to accept as true legal conclusions or unsupported conclusions of fact.” Hickey v. O'Bannon, 287 F.3d 656, 658 (7th Cir. 2002).

         While a complaint need not include detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff has the obligation to provide the factual grounds supporting his entitlement to relief; and neither bare legal conclusions nor a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will suffice in meeting this obligation. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Stated differently, the complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Hecker v. Deere & Co., 556 F.3d 575, 580 (7th Cir. 2009) (citation and quotation marks omitted). To be facially plausible, the complaint must allow “the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         Additionally, “[a] document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). However, the Court notes that:

[I]t is also well established that pro se litigants are not excused from compliance with procedural rules. [T]he Supreme Court has never suggested that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel[.] Further, as the Supreme Court has noted, in the long run, experience teaches that strict adherence to the procedural requirements specified by the legislature is the best guarantee of evenhanded administration of the law.

Loubser v. United States, 606 F.Supp.2d 897, 909 (N.D. Ind. 2009) (citations and quotation marks omitted).

[E]ven pro se litigants . . . must expect to file a legal argument and some supporting authority. A litigant who fails to press a point by supporting it with pertinent authority, or by showing why it is sound despite a lack of supporting authority . . . forfeits the point. We will not do his research for him.

Mathis v. New York Life Ins. Co., 133 F.3d 546, 548 (7th Cir. 1998) (citations and quotation ...


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