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Mills v. Miteq

February 7, 2008

UYLA M. MILLS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MITEQ, INC., ARTHUR FAVERIO, NASEER SHAIKH, JEANINE CORRAO, SARAH GRUARIN, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Feuerstein, J.

OPINION AND ORDER

I. Introduction

Plaintiff pro se Uyla M. Mills ("Plaintiff") brings this action against Miteq, Inc. ("Miteq"), Jeanine Corrao, Naseer Shaikh, Sarah Gruarin and Arthur Favario (collectively, the "Individual Defendants," and, with Miteq, the "Defendants"), alleging defamation and employment discrimination on the basis of religion in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to e-17 ("Title VII"). Defendants move for partial dismissal of the amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Specifically, Defendants seek dismissal of Plaintiff's claims of discrimination against Arthur Favario ("Favario") and defamation against all Defendants. For the reasons stated herein, the motion is granted.

II. Facts and Procedural History

Plaintiff, hired by Miteq as an assembler in August 1989, alleges that she was subjected to discrimination from May to November 2005 and ultimately terminated on the basis of her religion. Plaintiff filed three complaints of discrimination with the New York State Division of Human Rights ("NYSDHR"). In each of these complaints, Plaintiff alleged religious discrimination, disparate treatment and retaliation.

On February 21, 2006, Plaintiff commenced this action against Defendants, alleging religious discrimination. On March 9, 2006, this Court granted Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis.

On September 26, 2006, Plaintiff moved to amend her complaint. Plaintiff's motion to amend was referred to Magistrate Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson. By Report and Recommendation dated September 14, 2007, Magistrate Judge Tomlinson recommended that Plaintiff's motion be (1) denied with leave to replead to the extent that it sought to add claims against the Individual Defendants for defamation, (2) denied to the extent that it sought to add claims against the Individual Defendants for invasion of privacy, (3) denied with leave to replead to the extent that it sought to add claims against Defendant Faverio for violations of the New York State Executive Law, Human Rights Law §290 et seq. ("NYSHRL"), and (4) granted to the extent it sought to add claims against Defendants Shaikh, Corrao and Gruarin for violations of NYSHRL.

On September 25, 2007, Plaintiff timely filed objections to Magistrate Judge Tomlinson's Report and Recommendation. By Order October 3, 2007, this Court adopted Magistrate Judge Tomlinson's Report and Recommendation in its entirety, and Plaintiff was granted leave to replead claims against the Defendants for defamation and against Defendant Faverio for violations of the NYSHRL.

On October 26, 2007, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. By motion filed January 10, 2008, Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's claims of discrimination against Arthur Favario ("Favario") and defamation against all Defendants, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).

III. Analysis

A. Standard

In considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must liberally construe the claims, accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Roth v. Jennings, 489 F.3d 499, 510 (2d Cir. 2007). "The issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Villager Pond, Inc. v. Town of Darien, 56 F.3d 375, 378 (2d Cir.1995) (internal quotations and citation omitted). In other words, "'the office of a motion to dismiss is merely to assess the legal feasibility of the complaint, not to assay the weight of the evidence which might be offered in support thereof."' Eternity Global Master Fund Ltd. v. Morgan Guar. Trust Co. of New York, 375 F.3d 168, 176 (2d Cir. 2004) (quoting Geisler v. Petrocelli, 616 F.2d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 1980)). However, in order to withstand a motion to dismiss, a complaint must plead "enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007); Patane v. Clark, 508 F.3d 106, 111-112 (2d Cir. 2007).

B. Defamation

Under New York law, a defamation claim must allege: (1) a false and defamatory statement of fact; (2) regarding the plaintiff; (3) publication by defendant to a third party; and (4) injury to the plaintiff as a result thereof. See Weldy v. Piedmont Airlines, Inc., 985 F.2d 57, 61 (2d Cir. 1993). A defamation claim must set forth "the particular words complained of" and the person or persons to whom the alleged defamatory comments were made. N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 3016(a); Bobal v. Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst., 916 F.2d 759, 763 (2d Cir.1990) (affirming dismissal of claim where plaintiff failed to "plead adequately the actual words spoken [or] publication"); Kissner v. Inter-Continental Hotels Corp.,1998 WL 337067, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. 1998); Gill v. Pathmark Stores, Inc., 655 N.Y.S.2d 623, 625 (2d Dept. 1997); Vardi v. Mutual Life Ins. Co. of N.Y., 523 N.Y.S.2d 95 (1st Dept. 1988); see also Jones v. Commerce Bank, N.A., 2006 WL 2642153, at * 4 (S.D.N.Y. 2006) (denying pro se plaintiff's motion to amend to assert defamation claim where plaintiff failed to ...


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