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Smith v. Pro Logistics Inc. 1

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

October 10, 2014

CALVIN SMITH, Plaintiff,
PRO LOGISTICS INC. 1, et al., Defendants.


DANIEL P. JORDAN, III, District Judge.

This pro se employment-discrimination case is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim upon Which Relief Can Be Granted [6].[1] Because the Complaint fails to state a claim, the motion is granted.

I. Facts and Procedural History

Plaintiff Calvin Smith, an African-American male, asserts that he worked as a contract employee for Defendant Pro Logistics Inc. 1 in 2012 and 2013. He claims that Pro Logistics; Joe Golic, its Vice President; and Derrick Harper, its Operations Manager, discriminated against him on the basis of his race and age, subjected him to a hostile work environment, and unlawfully terminated his employment in December 2013.

Aggrieved by his treatment, Smith filed this lawsuit on June 6, 2014, asserting claims for alleged violations of the First, Fourth, Fifth, Fourteenth, and Sixteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution; violations of "Fair Labor Standards Laws and EEOC Federal Protection Laws, " Compl. [1] at 1; and claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985. Defendants moved to dismiss [6], and Smith failed to file a timely response, so on August 20, 2014, the Court entered a show-cause order, requiring a response from Smith on or before August 28, 2014. Smith filed a response [11] on August 27, 2014, Defendants timely filed a rebuttal [12], and Smith filed a "Cross Rebuttal" [13]. The Court is prepared to rule.

II. Standard

In considering a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the "court accepts all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.'" Martin K. Eby Constr. Co. v. Dall. Area Rapid Transit, 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir. 2004) (quoting Jones v. Greninger, 188 F.3d 322, 324 (5th Cir. 1999)). However, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

To overcome a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a plaintiff must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Id. at 555 (citations and footnote omitted). "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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

In this case, Smith is proceeding pro se. "It is well-established that pro se complaints are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Taylor v. Books A Million, Inc., 296 F.3d 376, 378 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Miller v. Stanmore, 636 F.2d 986, 988 (5th Cir. 1981)). "However, regardless of whether the plaintiff is proceeding pro se or is represented by counsel, conclusory allegations or legal conclusions masquerading as factual conclusions will not suffice to prevent a motion to dismiss.'" Id. (citing S. Christian Leadership Conference v. Supreme Court of the State of La., 252 F.3d 781, 786 (5th Cir. 2001)).

Because Defendants move under Rule 12(b)(6) and not Rule 12(b)(1), they seem to acknowledge that the issues-including the alleged failure to exhaust-are non-jurisdictional. There is certainly support for that position, although panels from the Fifth Circuit have handled the exhaustion issue differently. See Pacheco v. Mineta, 448 F.3d 783, 788 n.7 (5th Cir. 2006) (noting conflict in prior Fifth Circuit opinions on jurisdictional nature of Title VII exhaustion requirements). The Court will therefore take the same approach and apply Rule 12(b)(6). Under that rule, the Court ordinarily looks only to the face of the complaint to assess whether the plaintiff states a claim, though it may consider documents outside the complaint that are "(1) attached to the motion; (2) referenced in the complaint; and (3) central to the plaintiff's claims." Maloney Gaming Mgmt., L.L.C. v. St. Tammany Parish, 456 F.App'x 336, 341 (5th Cir. 2011).

III. Analysis

Liberally construing Smith's Complaint, the Court finds that Smith appears to assert the following claims: (1) claims under the FLSA, (2) employment-discrimination claims under the ADEA and Title VII, (3) claims under §§ 1983 and 1985, and (4) separate claims for violations of various constitutional provisions. The Court will address each set of claims in turn.

A. FLSA claims

Smith makes a single reference to "Fair Labor Standard Laws." Compl. [1] at 1. "[T]he FLSA was designed to give specific minimum protections to individual workers and to ensure that each employee covered by the Act would receive [a] fair day's pay for a fair day's work and would be protected from the evil of overwork as well as underpay." Barrentine v. Ark.-Best Freight Sys., Inc., 450 U.S. 728, 739 (1981) (alteration in original) (emphasis omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). The ...

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