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Porter v. Stonecrest at Clayton View

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

November 1, 2019

ASHLEY PORTER, Plaintiff,
v.
STONECREST AT CLAYTON VIEW, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          PATRICIA L. COHEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court upon review of an amended complaint filed by plaintiff Ashley Porter, who is proceeding herein pro se and in forma pauperis. For the reasons explained below, plaintiff will be given the opportunity to file a second amended complaint.

         Legal Standard on Initial Review

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court is required to dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, which is more than a “mere possibility of misconduct.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). “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.” Id. at 678. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw upon judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679. The court must “accept as true the facts alleged, but not legal conclusions or threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.” Barton v. Taber, 820 F.3d 958, 964 (8th Cir. 2016). See also Brown v. Green Tree Servicing LLC, 820 F.3d 371, 372- 73 (8th Cir. 2016) (stating that court must accept factual allegations in complaint as true, but is not required to “accept as true any legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation”).

         When reviewing a pro se complaint under § 1915(e)(2), the Court must give it the benefit of a liberal construction. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). This means that if the essence of an allegation is discernible, the district court should construe the plaintiff's complaint in a way that permits her claim to be considered within the proper legal framework. Solomon v. Petray, 795 F.3d 777, 787 (8th Cir. 2015). However, even pro se complaints are required to allege facts which, if true, state a claim for relief as a matter of law. Martin v. Aubuchon, 623 F.2d 1282, 1286 (8th Cir. 1980); see also Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914-15 (8th Cir. 2004) (stating that federal courts are not required to “assume facts that are not alleged, just because an additional factual allegation would have formed a stronger complaint.”). In addition, affording a pro se complaint the benefit of a liberal construction does not mean that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation must be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel. See McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993).

         Background

         Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit on September 10, 2019 by filing an employment discrimination complaint against defendant Stonecrest at Clayton View. She sought and was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Upon initial review, the Court determined that the complaint was subject to dismissal because plaintiff alleged no facts in support of her claims. In an order dated September 12, 2019, the Court directed plaintiff to file an amended complaint. In so doing, the Court clearly explained to plaintiff why her complaint was subject to dismissal, and clearly instructed her regarding how to prepare the amended complaint. Plaintiff has now filed an amended complaint, which the Court reviews pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         The Amended Complaint

         The amended complaint is on a court-provided form, as required. Plaintiff did not indicate the basis of her lawsuit, but she checked a box indicating she believed she suffered discrimination on the basis of her race. The Court can therefore presume that plaintiff filed the amended complaint pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. for employment discrimination on the basis of race.

         Plaintiff avers she exhausted her administrative remedies, but she did not attach copies of the relevant documents. When she filed the original complaint, plaintiff did attach a copy of the administrative charge she filed with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR), and a copy of the right-to-sue letter she received from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) dated September 3, 2019.

         Plaintiff indicates the alleged discrimination occurred on the morning of November 29, 2018. However, as in the original complaint, she left blank the space provided for her to state the facts of her claim. She also once again left blank the space provided for her to describe the relief she seeks from this Court.

         Attached to the amended complaint are copies of disciplinary forms, and plaintiff's February 18, 2019 handwritten statement. In the statement, plaintiff describes a November 29, 2018 incident that occurred while she was working, and the disciplinary action that followed. Plaintiff then writes: “that is all a lie another employee that works there now will tell you that I followed the proper [procedure] actions at work and was not on a one on one.” The statement contains no allegations that plaintiff suffered employment discrimination on the basis of her race. Instead, the statement can be understood to allege that plaintiff's employer was wrong to discipline her because she followed proper procedure.

         Discussion

         The amended complaint is subject to dismissal because plaintiff has not alleged facts in support of her claim that she suffered employment discrimination on the basis of her race, or any other basis. Simply checking the box marked “race” is insufficient. Even pro se plaintiffs are required to allege facts in support of their claims, and courts will not assume facts that are not alleged. See Stone, 364 F.3d at 914-15. Additionally, plaintiff failed to attach a copy of her administrative charge and the right-to-sue letter she ...


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