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Williams v. Gulfport School District

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

July 17, 2015

GEORGE WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
GULFPORT SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S STATE LAW CLAIMS

HALIL SULEYMAN OZERDEN, District Judge.

BEFORE THE COURT is the Motion [21] to Dismiss filed by Defendant Gulfport School District (the "School District"). Defendant moves the Court to dismiss Plaintiff George Williams's State law tort claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED") and negligent infliction of emotional distress ("NIED") on grounds that:

(1) Plaintiff failed to serve a notice of claim pursuant to Miss. Code § 11-46-11;
(2) Defendant is immune from liability because its actions were discretionary within the meaning of the Mississippi Tort Claims Act; and
(3) Plaintiff failed to plead any factual allegations that on the face of the Complaint plausibly assert an entitlement to relief for his IIED and NIED claims.

Def.'s Reply [31], at 1. In his Complaint [1-1], Plaintiff also asserts claims against Defendant for race-based and/or retaliatory termination of employment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq., and for violation of The Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. These federal claims, however, are not at issue in the instant Motion, which addresses only Plaintiff's State law NIED and IIED claims. Mot. to Dismiss [21], at 3. Plaintiff has responded in opposition [27], and Defendant has replied [31]. After due consideration of the issues presented, the record, and relevant legal authorities, the Court finds that the allegations of Plaintiff's Complaint fail to state a claim against Defendant for NIED or IIED and the Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) should be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was a Grounds Supervisor within the Gulfport School District Maintenance Department. In April 2013, Plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle accident in which he suffered a back injury. Compl. [1-1], at 2. Plaintiff's driver's license was suspended following the accident. Id. Plaintiff requested medical leave, beginning June 1, 2013, which was granted by Defendant. Id. On July 1, 2013, Plaintiff was terminated from his position by the Maintenance Director, Tom Hardaway, ostensibly based upon the suspended driver's license. Id. Plaintiff contends that the termination for his suspended driver's license was pretextual, and the wrongful suspension of his license was later reversed. Id.

Plaintiff's discrimination claims are based on his allegations that Mr. Hardaway, who is white, "had a history of making heavier work demands upon Plaintiff Williams-the only African American supervisor under Director Hardaway-than were made upon Caucasian Maintenance Supervisors." Id. Plaintiff also asserts that "Mr. Hardaway had repeatedly delayed and/or denied Plaintiff's requests for authorization to fill vacancies while assigning more work to Plaintiff-often work that had been assigned to units supervised by Plaintiff's Caucasian peers." Id. Plaintiff claims that he attempted to "address the disparate treatment with Mr. Hardaway on May 24, 2013, in a non-confrontational manner, [but] Mr. Hardaway reacted angrily, slamming his chair and saying: I can't believe you said that' and turning his back to Plaintiff." Id. at 2-3.

Based upon these events, Plaintiff claims he is owed damages for infliction of emotional distress, stating:

Defendant's acts and omissions were intentional, malicious and taken in reckless disregard of the statutory rights of Plaintiff. As a direct and proximate result of Defendant's intentional and/or negligent wrongful conduct, evoked outrage, fear and revulsion [sic] on the part of Plaintiff and caused him to suffer emotional harm and injury, extreme mental anguish, embarrassment, humiliation, and the loss of enjoyment of the ordinary pleasures of everyday life. Defendant is liable to Plaintiff for damages for its outrageous and abusive conduct and for intentional and/or negligent infliction of emotional distress towards Plaintiff.

Id. at 7-8 (internal numbering omitted).

II. DISCUSSION

Defendant asserts three grounds upon which the Court could dismiss Plaintiff's State law claims for NIED and IIED, but the Court will begin its analysis with Defendant's argument that "Plaintiff failed to plead any factual allegations that on the face of the complaint plausibly assert an entitlement to relief for his IIED and NIED claims." Def.'s Reply [31], at 1. If Plaintiff's State law claims ...


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