United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
this Court is Defendants LeeB2, LLC and ABRMP
Management's motion for judgment on the pleadings. Doc.
56. Upon due consideration, and for the reasons set forth
below, the Court finds the motion should be granted.
to the complaint, the Plaintiff, Mary John Garrett Byrd, who
is white, and her husband were guests at the Comfort Inn
hotel in Tupelo, Mississippi in February 2017. Compl. 
¶ 7. The complaint alleges that Byrd and her husband
checked into the room on February 14 and intended to stay for
several days. Id. However, on February 15, the hotel
staff, who were black, informed the Tupelo Police Department
that Byrd was unlawfully in the room. Id. A police
officer and the hotel staff entered the room, and the officer
arrested Byrd. Id.
then filed this complaint, asserting numerous civil rights
and state tort law claims against Defendants. Defendants now
move for judgment on the pleadings. Byrd filed no
response, and the matter is now ripe for review.
the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay
trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). A Rule 12(c) motion is governed by the
same standards as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. See Brown v.
Citi Mortgage, Inc., All Fed. App'x. 302, 303 (5th
Cir. 2012) (citing St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co. v.
Williamson, 224 F.3d 425, 440 n.8 (5th Cir. 2000)).
"A motion brought pursuant to [Rule] 12(c) is designed
to dispose of cases where the material facts are not in
dispute and a judgment on the merits can be rendered by
looking to the substance of the pleadings and any judicially
noticed facts." Hebert Abstract Co. v. Touchstone
Props., Ltd., 914 F.2d 74, 76 (5th Cir. 1990) (citing 5A
Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice
and Procedure § 1367, at 509-10 (1990)).
deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court is
limited to the allegations set forth in the complaint and any
documents attached to the complaint. Walker v. Webco
Indus., Inc., 562 Fed.Appx. 215, 216-17 (5th Cir. 2014)
(citing Kennedy v. Chase Manhattan Bank USA, NA, 369
F.3d 833, 839 (5th Cir. 2004)). "[A plaintiffs]
complaint therefore 'must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face."' Phillips v. City of
Dallas, Tex., 781 F.3d 772, 775-76 (5th Cir. 2015)
(quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129
S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009)).
is facially plausible when the pleaded factual content
"allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (citing
Bell Atl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556, 127
S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). "[P]laintiffs must
allege facts that support the elements of the cause of action
in order to make out a valid claim." Webb v.
Morella, 522 Fed.Appx. 238, 241 (5th Cir. 2013) (quoting
City of Clinton, Ark. v. Pilgrim's Pride Corp.,
632 F.3d 148, 152-53 (5th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation
marks omitted)). "[C]onclusory allegations or legal
conclusions masquerading as factual conclusions will not
suffice to prevent a motion to dismiss." Id.
(quoting Fernandez-Montes v. Allied Pilots Ass
'n, 987 F.2d 278, 284 (5th Cir. 1993) (internal
quotation marks omitted)). "Dismissal is appropriate
when the plaintiff has not alleged 'enough facts to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face' and has
failed to 'raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.'" Emesowum v. Hous. Police
Dep't, 561 Fed.Appx. 372, 372 (5th Cir. 2014)
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570, 127 S.Ct.
complaint fails to state a claim for relief under federal
Court first identifies the federal statutes upon which she
bases her claims, of which there are several. The complaint
asserts that Byrd's claims arise under 29 U.S.C. §
216(b), 29 U.S.C. § 2617(a)(2), 42 U.S.C. § 1981,
42 U.S.C. §1983, and 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f).
those, per their respective texts, 29 U.S.C. § 216(b)
(the Fair Labor Standards Act), 29 U.S.C. § 2617(a)(2)
(the Family and Medical Leave Act); and 42 U.S.C. §
2000e-5(f) (Title VII), each apply only to employment
relationships. Clearly, Byrd does not claim that Defendants
ever employed her, and so any claims arising under those
statues must be dismissed.
leaves § 1981 and § 1983. There are three elements
of a § 1983 claim: "(1) a deprivation of a right
secured by federal law (2) that occurred under color of state
law, and (3) was caused by a state actor." Victoria
W. v. Larpenter, 369 F.3d 475, 482 (5th Cir. 2004).
Here, Byrd sues two private actors, not any government
official or officer. To hold a private actor liable under
§ 1983, the plaintiff must show that "the private
citizen was a 'willful participant in joint activity with
State or its agents.'" Priester v. Lowndes
Cty., 354 F.3d 414, 420 (5th Cir. 2004) (quoting
Cinel v. Connick,, 15 F.3d 1338, 1342 (5th Cir.
1994)). "The plaintiff must allege: (1) an agreement
between the private and public defendants to commit an
illegal act and (2) a deprivation of constitutional
Byrd alleges only that hotel employees informed the Tupelo
Police Department that Byrd was unlawfully in the room, and
that the employees unlocked the door to the room for the
officer to get in. What the complaint does not allege,
however, is any specific facts evincing a conspiracy between
the staff and the officer to commit an illegal act. For
"a private party [to] be liable as a state actor for
filing a complaint with law enforcement" there must be
allegations that the law enforcement officer "'acted
in accordance with a preconceived plan to take action merely
because [the action] was designated ... by the private
party;'" and the officer '"did so without
independent investigation'" Michael v.
Boutwell,138 F.Supp.3d 761, 778 (N.D. Miss. 2015)
(quoting Sims v. Jefferson Downs Racing Ass'n.,788 F.2d 1068, ...