United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER APPOINTING PRO BONO
D. NOCE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the motions of defendant Trans
States Airlines, LLC, to dismiss (Doc. 12) and that of
plaintiff Kinza Abdul-Salaam to transfer the case (Doc. 16).
Both parties have consented to the exercise of plenary
authority by a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(c).
alleges the following facts in her complaint. Plaintiff is an
African American female and was employed as a flight
attendant for Trans States Airlines. She alleges four
instances of adverse employment actions due to her race,
color, and gender. First, in March 2016, a Caucasian
co-worker reported that the plaintiff carried an
unaccompanied minor and disabled passenger on board the
aircraft prior to pre-flight. Plaintiff refuted the report to
management and requested a full investigation. No
investigation occurred, but plaintiff was suspended for three
days without pay.
August 2016, a Caucasian United Airlines gate agent and a
Caucasian supervisor alleged that plaintiff was rude to a
gate agent in Tampa, Florida. Plaintiff contested these
allegations and prepared a detailed written statement,
claiming and providing evidence that she instead had filed a
complaint against the gate agent. Plaintiff's allegations
were ignored and only the reports filed by the two Caucasians
were considered. This resulted in a 7-day suspension of
plaintiff claims she was falsely accused by defendant Trans
States Airlines of flying while ill on August 7, 2016.
Plaintiff contested this allegation, stating she proved it
was false, but she was ignored and again suspended for seven
days without pay.
October 4, 2016, plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination
with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR) and the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against the
defendant. Later that month, plaintiff lost the opportunity
for a four-day, job-related trip scheduled in December 2016.
Plaintiff was told this was because a passenger had
complained, on a flight where the other two crew members were
Caucasian males. Plaintiff claims that she, the captain, and
the first officer had all filed inflight trip reports, but
she was the only one removed from the upcoming trip. She
claims that her wages had to be refunded based solely on the
two reports of the Caucasian, male crew members. Plaintiff
also claims that on October 13, 2016, she complained in a
trip report that Trans States Airlines was disregarding
federal regulations regarding carry-on baggage.
31, 2018, the EEOC issued plaintiff a right-to-sue letter.
The notice states that plaintiff had 90 days from the receipt
of the notice to file the lawsuit. On June 22, 2018, the MCHR
also issued a notice of right to sue, with a 90 day window to
file a lawsuit based on the mailing date. On September 14,
2018, plaintiff filed her judicial complaint with this
District Court. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, claiming
that plaintiff's complaint was filed out of time.
Court's request, at a status conference on January 7,
2019, plaintiff submitted a docket sheet from the U.S.
District Court for the District of Maryland, Case No. 8:18 CV
2688, which indicated plaintiff originally filed her claims
against defendant in that court on August 29, 2018. (Doc.
21). The complaint in that case raised the same Title VII and
Missouri law claims of discrimination and retaliation and
wrongful termination, based on the same factual allegations
plaintiff alleges in this Court. Salaam v. Transstates
Airlines, No. 8:18 CV 2688 (D. Md. 2018) (Doc. 1). The
Maryland case was dismissed without prejudice on October 10,
2018, for failure to either pay the filing fee or file a
motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (Id. at Doc.
motion to transfer seeks to move the case commenced in this
Court to the U.S. District Court for the District of
Maryland. Her motion asserts that she “originally filed
with the EEOC of Maryland and was asked by Transstates to
allow my case to be transferred to St. Louis, MO, with the
understanding that they would pay for my accommodations.
They, however, reneged on this and allowed for only one day
travel to EEOC hearing.” (Doc. 16). She further asserts
that it would be a financial hardship to prosecute her case
in this Court, as she does not have the funds to fly or pay
for hotels. (Doc. 16). At the hearing, plaintiff and
defendant clarified that the request to litigate in St. Louis
was only for an EEOC mediation and not the judicial action.
Defendant argues that it is not subject to personal
jurisdiction in Maryland and that plaintiff has not
established the required basis for transfer.
the status conference of January 7, 2019, the parties agreed
that plaintiff's employment with defendant required her
to fly out of Dulles International Airport, in the Eastern
District of Virginia.
Court has reviewed the case file, the parties' arguments,
and plaintiff's case in Maryland, and it appears that the
just litigation of this action will benefit from the
appointment of counsel to represent plaintiff, who is
presently proceeding pro se. The facts are complex, with
possible time permutations very close to the 90-day filing
deadline, and events occurring in multiple states. Although
plaintiff has not requested counsel, the Court has broad
discretion to decide whether to appoint counsel for an
indigent civil litigant, “taking into account the
factual and legal complexity of the case, the absence of
conflicting testimony, and the plaintiff's ability to
investigate the facts and present [her] claim.”
Davis v. Scott, 94 F.3d 444, 477 (8th Cir. 1996).
Plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed in forma
reasons discussed above, IT IS HEREBY
ORDERED that the Clerk of Court is directed to
appoint plaintiff counsel from the panel pursuant to the Plan
for the Appointment of Pro Bono Counsel. A separate Notice of