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Martin v. Dunaway Food Services

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

February 6, 2015

DARCY C. MARTIN, Plaintiff,
v.
DUNAWAY FOOD SERVICES AND MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

KEITH STARRETT, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the Defendant Mississippi Department of Employment Security's ("MDES") Motion to Dismiss [12] and the Plaintiff Darcy C. Martin's Motion for Protection [20], Motion to Introduce Evidence [27], and Motion to Introduce Evidence [28]. Having considered the submissions of the parties, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that:

1) MDES's Motion to Dismiss [12] should be granted;
2) Plaintiff's Motion for Protection [20] should be granted in part and denied in part;
3) Plaintiff's Motion to Introduce Evidence [27] should be granted in part and denied in part; and
4) Plaintiff's Motion to Introduce Evidence [28] should be granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Darcy C. Martin, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, asserts liability against Dunaway Food Services ("Dunaway") and MDES in relation to the termination of his employment. On May 14, 2012, Martin was terminated from his night porter position with Dunaway. ( See Order of the Circuit Court of Pike County, Mississippi ("State Court Order") [13-8].) Martin subsequently sought unemployment benefits from MDES. On November 14, 2012, MDES issued its Notice to Employer of Claims Determination Decision [13-3], providing that Dunaway failed to show that Martin was terminated for the misconduct alleged and that Martin was eligible for unemployment benefits. Dunaway subsequently appealed this determination to the State Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). On January 7, 2013, the ALJ issued a Decision [13-4], reversing the aforementioned determination and finding that Dunaway presented clear and convincing evidence of Martin engaging in misconduct leading to his discharge. Martin was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits as a result of the ALJ's Decision [13-4]. On January 9, 2013, Martin appealed the ALJ's Decision to the MDES Board of Review. The Board of Review affirmed the ALJ's determination that Martin was not entitled to benefits. ( See Board of Review Decision [13-6].) Martin next filed an appeal in the Circuit Court of Pike County, Mississippi (the "First Appeal"). On May 8, 2013, the state court affirmed the administrative finding that Martin was terminated for misconduct and not entitled to unemployment benefits. ( See State Court Order [13-8].)

On June 3, 2013, Martin filed a separate action against Dunaway and MDES in the Circuit Court of Pike County (the "Second Action"), alleging that he was wrongfully terminated without justifiable cause. ( See State Court Complaint [13-9].) Martin sought injunctive and declaratory relief (without specifying the requested declaration or the acts to be restrained or required), punitive damages, and $70, 000 for emotional distress relating to the loss of his job. MDES subsequently moved to dismiss the Second Action under the doctrine of res judicata based on the outcome of Martin's First Appeal. On December 18, 2013, the state court granted MDES's motion and dismissed the Second Action with prejudice. ( See Order of Dismissal [13-11].) Martin appealed this dismissal to the Mississippi Supreme Court. MDES moved to dismiss the appeal on several grounds, including: (i) the time for an appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court for proceedings associated with the First Appeal had expired; (ii) MDES enjoyed sovereign immunity from suits for monetary damages pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment of the United States Constitution; and (iii) MDES was immune from liability as to any monetary damages due to Martin's failure to comply with the requirements of the Mississippi Tort Claims Act ("MTCA"). On February 19, 2014, the Mississippi Supreme Court granted MDES's motion and dismissed the appeal. (Order [13-14].)

On March 5, 2014, Martin filed suit against Dunaway and MDES in this Court. ( See Compl. [1].) Martin seeks damages in the amount of $100, 000 based on the termination of his employment and the alleged violation of "labor laws" and his "constitutional rights." On March 14, 2014, the Court ordered Martin to amend his complaint to provide additional information regarding his claims because the "complaint, even liberally construed, does not provide sufficient information regarding the defendants and the claims." (Order [3] at p. 1.) On March 25, 2014, Martin filed his Amended Complaint [4] asserting violations of: (i) his right to due process under the Fifth Amendment; (ii) his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment; (iii) his right to be free from slavery under the Thirteenth Amendment; and (iv) "Mississippi Fair Labor Laws."[1]

On April 25, 2014, MDES filed its Motion to Dismiss [12] pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) (lack of subject matter jurisdiction) and (b)(6) (failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted). MDES argues that all of Martin's claims are barred by Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity. MDES further asserts that it is not a "person" amenable to suit under Title 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. In addition, dismissal is sought on the grounds of res judicata and the Rooker-Feldman doctrine based on the above-discussed state court proceedings.

On May 5, 2014, Martin filed his Motion for Protection [20]. On September 11, 2014, Martin filed his Motion to Introduce Evidence [27]. On October 14, 2014, Martin filed his second Motion to Introduce Evidence [28]. Generally, these filings present arguments and authorities in support of Martin's causes of action against Dunaway and MDES.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Plaintiff's Motion for Protection [20], Motion to Introduce Evidence [27], and Motion ...


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