The opinion of the court was delivered by: VICTOR Marrero, United States District Judge.
Plaintiff Paulette Thomas ("Thomas") filed a complaint (the
"Complaint") alleging that defendants Westchester County Health Care
Corporation ("WCHCC") and Westchester Medical Center ("WMC," and together
with WCHCC, the "Defendants") (i) discriminated against her on the basis
of her gender, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and (ii) retaliated against
her for filing a sexual harassment claim, in violation of Title VII.
Thomas also filed two identical claims under the New York State Human
Rights Law, N.Y. Executive Law § 296 ("NYSHRL"). Defendants in turn
filed a motion pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure to dismiss Thomas's Complaint in its entirety.
For the reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED.
A district court may grant a motion to dismiss pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) only if it appears beyond doubt that the non-moving
party could prove no set of facts that would entitle it to relief. See
Hishon v. King & Spaldinq, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984); Valmonte v. Bane,
18 F.3d 992, 998 (2d Cir. 1994). On a motion to dismiss pursuant to
Fed.R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), a court accepts all well-pleaded factual
assertions in the complaint as true and draws all inferences in favor of
the plaintiff. See Hishon, 467 U.S. at 73; see also McGinty v. State of
New York, 193 F.3d 64, 68 (2d Cir. 1999).
A recent Supreme Court ruling in Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A.,
534 U.S. 506 (2002), further instructs that in order to survive a Rule
12(b)(6) motion, a complaint in an employment discrimination case need
only include a simple statement showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief and giving the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests. See id. at 512-13. While the Supreme Court
did not require a plaintiff to plead a prima facie case of
discrimination, it did note that a court may dismiss a complaint "`if it
is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that
could be proved consistent with the allegations.'" Id. at 514 (quoting
Hishon, 467 U.S. at 73).
When considering a motion to dismiss, the Court's review is confined to
the pleadings themselves, with a few well-established exceptions. To go
beyond the allegations in the Complaint would convert the Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss into one for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
56. See Friedl v. City of New York, 210 F.3d 79, 83-84 (2d Cir. 2000). At
this stage of the proceedings in the instant case, the Court declines to
convert the motion. Nevertheless, the Court's consideration of documents
attached to, or incorporated by reference in the Complaint, and matters
of which judicial notice may be taken, would not convert the motion to
dismiss into one for summary judgment. See Leonard F. v. Israel Discount
Bank of New York, 199 F.3d 99, 107 (2d Cir. 1999); see also Intermedics
v. Ventritex, 775 F. Supp. 1258, 1261 (N.D. Cal. 1991) (when ruling on a
Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a district court may take judicial notice of, among
other things, "records and reports of administrative bodies . . . .").
Documents that are integral to plaintiff's claims may also be
considered, despite plaintiff's failure to attach them to the complaint.
See Cortec Indus., Inc. v. Sum Holding L.P., 949 F.2d 42, 46-48 (2d Cir.
1991) cert. denied, 503 U.S. 960 (1992).
As a threshold matter, the Court must decide the proper treatment of
certain exhibits submitted by the Defendants in connection with their
motion to dismiss. Specifically, the Defendants have attached a portion
of the transcript from the disciplinary hearing (the "Transcript")
brought against Thomas pursuant to Section 75 of the New York State Civil
Service Law, see N.Y. Civil Service Law § 75 (McKinney 1999) (the
"Civil Service Law"), and a Report of the Impartial Hearing Officer (the
"Report") that resulted from the hearing. While the material from this
hearing is briefly mentioned in Thomas's Complaint, it is not annexed as
an exhibit thereto.
In considering a motion to dismiss, the Court may consider documents
attached as an exhibit thereto or incorporated by reference, see
Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c); De Jesus v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., Inc., 87 F.3d 65,
69 (2d Cir. 1996), documents that are "integral" to plaintiff's claims,
even if not explicitly incorporated by reference, Cortec Indus., Inc.,
949 F.2d at 46-48, and matters of which judicial notice may be taken.
See Allen v. WestPoint-Pepperell, Inc., 945 F.2d 40, 44 (2d Cir. 1991).
In the instant case, Thomas did not attach the Transcript or Report as an
exhibit to her Complaint, so it would not be warranted to consider the
documents on that ground.
To be incorporated by reference, the Complaint must make a clear,
definite and substantial reference to the documents. See B.V. Optische
Industrie de Oude Delft v. Hologic, Inc., 909 F. Supp. 162, 167
(S.D.N.Y. 1995) ("[T]he Court concludes
that a clear and definite
reference to extraneous submissions not attached to the complaint is
necessary for a plaintiff to assure their consideration in a motion to
dismiss."); Halbrecht v. Prudential-Bache Properties, Inc., 1992 WL
336757, at *11 (D. Conn. 1991) (Cabranes, J.) ("Although the Complaint
includes several references to the [Confidential Private Placement
Memorandum], these references are not substantial enough to constitute
incorporation by reference."); see also Goldman v. Belden, 754 F.2d 1059,
1066 (2d Cir. 1985) ("The documents here were to some extent quoted, but
limited quotation does not constitute incorporation by reference.") The
Complaint refers briefly in one paragraph to the disciplinary hearing
that was conducted and the resulting Report. Such a brief reference does
not qualify as clear, definite or substantial.
However, Thomas bases all four claims for relief on the course of
conduct in which the Defendants engaged, alleging that through such
conduct Defendants discriminated against Thomas on the basis of her
gender and retaliated against her on the basis of her sexual harassment
complaint. Since the primary course of conduct Thomas refers to in her
Complaint is the instigation of disciplinary proceedings against Thomas
under the Civil Service Law and the enforcement of the punishment
recommended under those proceedings, Thomas must rely on the contents of
the Transcript and Report in order to explain what the actual unlawful
course of conduct was on which the Defendants embarked. Consequently,
these documents are integral to her Complaint, even if they are not
attached as an exhibit. Because these documents are integral, because
Thomas knew of and possessed them, and because there is no dispute as to
their authenticity, the Court may consider them without converting the
Defendants' motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. See
Parrino v. FHP, Inc., 146 F.3d 699, 705 & n. 4 (9th Cir. 1998)
(quoting Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. v. White Conosol. Indus.,
998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993) ("Where, however, an attached document
is integral to the plaintiff's claims and its authenticity is not
disputed, the plaintiff `obviously is on notice of the contents of the
document and the need for a chance to refute evidence is greatly
diminished.'")); Cortec Indus., Inc., 949 F.2d at 48 ("[These] were
documents plaintiffs had either in its possession or had knowledge of and
upon which they relied in bringing suit. It did not lack notice of those
documents; these papers were integral to its complaint.").
Even if the Transcript and Report were not integral, such documents
could still be considered by the Court because the Court "may take
judicial notice of the records of state administrative procedures, as
these are public records, without converting a motion to dismiss to one
for summary judgment." Evans v. The New York Botanical Garden, 2002 WL
31002814, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. September 4, 2002); see also Mack v. South Bay
Beer Distribs., 798 F.2d 1279, 1282 (9th Cir. 1986) ("[A] court may take
judicial notice of `records and reports of administrative bodies.'"),
overruled on other rounds by Astoria Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n v.
Solimino, 501 U.S. 104, 111 (1991); Morelli v. Cedel, 1997 WL 61499, at
*7 (S.D.N.Y. February 13, 1997) ("[A]lthough it is not mentioned in the
complaint, I note that on February 29, 1996, the [New York State Division
of Human Rights] issued a Determination and Order after Investigation
which concluded that there was no probable cause to believe that Cedel
engaged in an unlawful discriminatory practice.").
Here, the disciplinary hearings were brought against Thomas by
Defendants under the Civil Service Law, which empowers a state employer
to conduct a quasi-judicial administrative hearing on the question of a
civil service employee's alleged misconduct and/or incompetence. See
N.Y. Civ. Serv. L. § 75. As such, these hearings are proceedings of
an administrative body, see Marino v. Ameruso, 837 F.2d 45, 47 (2d Cir.
1988) (referring to Section 75 hearing as a finding of an administrative
agency), and therefore subject to judicial ...