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Gilbert Hunt v. Community General Hospital

August 2, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Glenn T. Suddaby, United States District Judge


Currently before the Court, in this pro se employment civil rights action filed by Gilbert Hunt ("Plaintiff") against Community General Hospital ("Defendant"), is Defendant's motion to dismiss. (Dkt. No. 13.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is granted, one of Plaintiff's three claims is dismissed with prejudice, and the two remaining claims are conditionally dismissed unless, within thirty days of the date of this Decision and Order, he files an Amended Complaint curing the pleading defects described in this Decision and Order.


A. Plaintiff's Claims

Generally, liberally construed, Plaintiff's Complaint claims that in 2009 Defendant violated Plaintiff's following rights in the following manner: (1) it discriminated against him based on race during the course of his employment in violation of Title VII; and (2) it terminated his employment with a racially discriminatory purpose in violation of Article 15 of the New York Executive Law; and (3) it falsely accused him of committing an employment violation in a defamatory manner. (Dkt. No.1, at ¶¶ 4, 8, 9.) In support of these claims, Plaintiff alleges that on April 20, 2009, at Community General Hospital in Syracuse, New York, he was "written up" and subsequently dismissed from his job, after the head of the department in which he worked accused him of falsifying documents and acting in an insubordinate manner. (Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 8.) Plaintiff further alleges that he was falsely accused of a violation the he did not commit and that the reason for his dismissal was a pretext for terminating him because of his race. (Id. at ¶ 9.) As relief for his injuries, Plaintiff seeks twenty million dollars in damages. (Id. at ¶ 15.)

Familiarity with the claims, factual allegations, and request for relief in Plaintiff's Complaint is assumed in this Memorandum-Decision and Order, which is intended primarily for review by the parties.

B. Defendant's Motion

Generally, in support of its motion to dismiss, Defendant argues as follows: (1) based on Plaintiff's own factual allegations, Plaintiff is time-barred from asserting a Title VII cause of action, (2) Plaintiff's New York Human Rights Law causes of action are jurisdictionally defective, and (3) Plaintiff's third cause of action is insufficiently pled. (Dkt. No.11, Attach. 2.)

Despite the fact that Plaintiff was sua sponte provided a courtesy copy of the District's Pro Se Handbook and Local Rules of Practice on April 27, 2011 (both of which clearly advised him of the consequence of failing to sufficiently oppose a properly supported motion) and the fact that Plaintiff was twice specifically advised that Defendant's motion would be decided based on the papers submitted by the parties (see Text Notices dated June 8, 2011, and Nov. 2, 2011) Plaintiff has failed to file an opposition to Defendant's motion, and the deadline by which to do so has expired. (See generally Docket Sheet.)


A. Legal Standard Governing Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6)

It has long been understood that a dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), can be based on one or both of two grounds: (1) a challenge to the "sufficiency of the pleading" under Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2); or (2) a challenge to the legal cognizability of the claim. Jackson v. Onondaga Cnty., 549 F. Supp.2d 204, 211, nn. 15-16 (N.D.N.Y. 2008) (McAvoy, J., adopting Report-Recommendation on de novo review).

Because such dismissals are often based on the first ground, a few words regarding that ground are appropriate. Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a pleading contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) [emphasis added]. In the Court's view, this tension between permitting a "short and plain statement" and requiring that the statement "show[]" an entitlement to relief is often at the heart of misunderstandings that occur regarding the pleading standard established by Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2).

On the one hand, the Supreme Court has long characterized the "short and plain" pleading standard under Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) as "simplified" and "liberal." Jackson, 549 F. Supp.2d at 212, n.20 (citing Supreme Court case). On the other hand, the Supreme Court has held that, by requiring the above-described "showing," the pleading standard under Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) requires that the pleading contain a statement that "give[s] the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim ...

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