United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
R. LEICHTY JUDGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
DeAnn Graham filed a pro se complaint against her
former employer, Coca-Cola Consolidated, Inc., alleging
claims of discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Coca-Cola has moved to dismiss
the complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), claiming Ms.
Graham's complaint fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted and falls short of the requirements of
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 and 10. In the alternative, Coca-Cola requests
a more definite statement. The court now denies both motions.
all well-pleaded allegations as true and taking all
reasonable inferences in Ms. Graham's favor, the
following facts emerge. Ms. Graham began working at Coca-Cola
in May 2016 as a merchandiser. ECF 1-1 at 7. She performed
well in her position. She never received any oral or written
warnings, completed her required trainings, and generally
received excellent praise from her immediate supervisor,
Aaron Ridge. Id.
January 2018, Ms. Graham began to complain about a decrease
in her pay rate. Id. at 8. She told her supervisor,
Aaron Ridge, that she was unable to make ends meet with the
new pay rate. Id. Despite the pay decrease, Ms.
Graham continued with the company. Around this time, William
Leinart joined management. Id. Ms. Graham complains
that she began to experience retaliation after complaining of
her pay rate and that it escalated after Mr. Leinart arrived
at Coca-Cola. Id.
March 7, 2018, Ms. Graham had a meeting with several members
of management, including Mr. Ridge. Id. The purpose
of this meeting was to discuss racially insensitive remarks
made by Mr. Ridge about African-Americans at the company.
days after her meeting with management, March 10, 2018, Ms.
Graham was informed that she was being terminated for
insubordination. Id. Ms. Graham was told that she
had not completed her mandatory safety class. Id. at
7. In response, Ms. Graham informed Coca-Cola that she had
completed her most recent safety class, due March 1, 2018
(id. at 10) and did not have another class due until
March 31, 2018 (id. at 7).
Graham believed that her termination was retaliation for
reporting Mr. Ridge's comments. Id. at 8. She
timely filed a charge with the Indiana Civil Rights
Commission (id. at 2-3) alleging retaliation and
discrimination on the basis of her sex, race, and age
(id.). Ms. Graham received her right-to-sue letter
from the EEOC on February 23, 2019. ECF 1 at 1. Ms. Graham
then filed this timely complaint alleging discrimination and
retaliation. ECF 1-1.
reviewing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court
accepts all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and
draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor.
Reynolds v. CB Sports Bar, Inc., 623 F.3d
1143, 1146 (7th Cir. 2010). A complaint must contain a
“short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). The statement must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face and raise a right to relief above the
speculative level. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). A plaintiff's claim must be plausible,
not probable. Indep. Trust Corp. v. Stewart Info. Servs.
Corp., 665 F.3d 930, 935 (7th Cir. 2012). Evaluating
whether a claim is sufficiently plausible to survive a motion
to dismiss is “a context-specific task that requires
the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and
common sense.” McCauley v. City of Chicago,
671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678). Of course, because Ms. Graham is a
pro se plaintiff, the court must liberally
construe her complaint. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007).
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8 and 10
argues that Ms. Graham's complaint must be dismissed
because it does not satisfy Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
8 and 10. Coca-Cola objects to the “long,
rambling” nature of Ms. Graham's complaint and
argues that it fails to satisfy the “short and plain
statement” requirement of Rule 8(a) and the numbered
paragraph requirement of Rule 10(b).
satisfy Rule 8, “a complaint must provide a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief, which is sufficient to provide the
defendant with fair notice of the claim and its basis.”
Appert v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Inc., 673 F.3d
609, 622 (7th Cir. 2012) (internal quotations omitted). Rule
10(b) requires a party to state its claims or defenses in
numbered paragraphs, “each limited as far as
practicable to a single set of circumstances.” These
rules require plaintiffs to “make their pleadings
straightforward, ” U.S. ex rel. Garst v.
Lockheed-Martin Corp., 328 F.3d 374, 378 (7th Cir.
2003), and drafted to “direct the defendant to the
factual cause of the plaintiff's injury, ”
McTigue v. City of Chicago, 60 F.3d 381, 382 (7th
Cir. 1995); see also Stanard v. Nygren, 658 F.3d
792, 797 (7th Cir. 2011). ...