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Muragara v. Moneygram Payment System International

United States District Court, D. Colorado

January 4, 2016

JECKONIAS N. MURAGARA, Plaintiff,
v.
MONEYGRAM PAYMENT SYSTEM INTERNATIONAL, Defendant.

ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS

MICHAEL E. HEGARTY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

Before the Court is Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint (“Motion”) [filed November 25, 2015; docket #42]. The Motion is fully briefed, and oral argument would not materially assist the Court in its adjudication. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants the Motion.[1]

BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, initiated this action on May 5, 2015. Docket #1. His original Complaint alleged that Defendant MoneyGram[2] discriminated against him on the basis of race, color, and national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (“Title VII”), and retaliated against him for having filed a lawsuit nearly 15 years ago, in 2001. Docket #1. At this Court’s November 4, 2015 Scheduling Conference, Plaintiff stated that he desired to amend his Complaint to seek only a sole claim of retaliation. See docket #22. The Court thus ordered Plaintiff to file an amended complaint [see docket #34], which Plaintiff did on November 11, 2015 [see docket #40].

Defendant filed its first Motion to Dismiss on October 27, 2015 [see docket #27], which the Court dismissed as moot [see docket #41] based on the filing of Plaintiff’s operative Amended Complaint [docket #40]. Defendant then filed the currently pending Motion on November 25, 2015 [docket #42]; Plaintiff filed his Response on December 5, 2015 [docket #47][3]; and Defendant filed its Reply on December 22, 2015 [docket #49]. The Amended Complaint seeks $280, 000 in compensatory and punitive damages. Docket #40 at 4.

Plaintiff alleges he was wrongfully discharged by MoneyGram after Plaintiff filed a lawsuit in 2001 in which he accused the company of employment discrimination.[4] Plaintiff alleges no other facts in the Amended Complaint. Thus, the Court also considers his original Complaint insomuch as it relates to the retaliation claim only, in an effort to give this pro se Plaintiff the opportunity to state a claim, taking all facts as true for the purpose of this Motion.[4] Appended to his original Complaint, Plaintiff provided his Charge of Discrimination filed with the Colorado Civil Rights Division on August 27, 2014, in which he alleges that, “On or about June 24, 2014, I was discharged from my job as a Compliance Agent in retaliation for having filed a lawsuit for discrimination against the company in or about 2000. Within about a week of starting training for my Compliance Agent job, I was informed that I was being discharged, but no reasons were given to me.” Docket #1 at 9. Plaintiff thus alleges that Defendant has discriminated against him because of “retaliation.” Id. at 2.

Defendant argues Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for retaliation and, as a result, that his case should be dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). See generally docket #42.

LEGAL STANDARDS

I. Dismissal Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)

“To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Plausibility, in the context of a motion to dismiss, means that the plaintiff pled facts which allow “the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Twombly requires a two-prong analysis. First, a court must identify “the allegations in the complaint that are not entitled to the assumption of truth, ” that is, those allegations which are legal conclusions, bare assertions, or merely conclusory. Id. at 679-80. Second, the Court must consider the factual allegations “to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.” Id. at 681. If the allegations state a plausible claim for relief, such claim survives the motion to dismiss. Id. at 680.

Plausibility refers “to the scope of the allegations in a complaint: if they are so general that they encompass a wide swath of conduct, much of it innocent, then the plaintiffs ‘have not nudged their claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.’” Khalik v. United Air Lines, 671 F.3d 1188, 1191 (10th Cir. 2012) (quoting Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1247 (10th Cir. 2008)). “The nature and specificity of the allegations required to state a plausible claim will vary based on context.” Kansas Penn Gaming, LLC v. Collins, 656 F.3d 1210, 1215 (10th Cir. 2011). Thus, while the Rule 12(b)(6) standard does not require that a plaintiff establish a prima facie case in a complaint, the elements of each alleged cause of action may help to determine whether the plaintiff has set forth a plausible claim. Khalik, 671 F.3d at 1191 .

II. Treatment of a Pro Se Plaintiff’s Complaint

A federal court must construe a pro se plaintiff’s “pleadings liberally, applying a less stringent standard than is applicable to pleadings filed by lawyers. [The] court, however, will not supply additional factual allegations to round out a plaintiff’s complaint or construct a legal theory on plaintiff’s behalf.” Whitney v. New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997) (quotations and citations omitted). The Tenth Circuit interpreted this rule to mean, “if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, it should do so despite the plaintiff’s failure to cite proper legal authority, his confusion of various legal theories, his poor syntax and sentence construction, or his unfamiliarity with pleading requirements.” Hall v. ...


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