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Bentley v. Mobil Gas Station

United States District Court, W.D. New York

April 15, 2014

WILLIE BENTLEY, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
MOBIL GAS STATION, PETER BRUCKEL, AND RON MARTY, Defendants.

DECISION and ORDER

MICHAEL A. TELESCA, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Willie Bentley, Jr., ("Bentley") an African-American, brings this action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1981, claiming that the defendants illegally discriminated against him on the basis of his race. Specifically, Bentley claims that he was told by an employee of a Mobil gas station located in Geneseo, New York, that he was banned as a customer from the store. Plaintiff claims that he was the only African-American in the store at the time he was told he was banned from the store, and therefore he was discriminated against.

Defendants move to dismiss plaintiff's Complaint on grounds that plaintiff has failed to state a claim of discrimination. Specifically, defendants contend that plaintiff has failed to allege that there was any racial motivation for the alleged ban, and that there is no evidence that plaintiff was actually banned from the store. Plaintiff has not opposed the defendants' motion to dismiss.

For the reasons set forth below, I grant defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's Complaint.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Willie Bentley, Jr., claims that on October 6, 2012, he was a customer at a Mobil gas station located in Geneseo, New York, owned by defendant Peter Bruckel ("Bruckel"). Bentley claims that he bought a lottery ticket at the store, and that when he later attempted to cash in the winning ticket with a different cashier, he was told by that cashier, defendant Ron Marty ("Marty"), that he had been "banned" from the store and therefore Marty would not cash his ticket. Bentley and Marty argued as to whether or not he was banned, and eventually Marty cashed Bentley's lottery ticket.

According to Bentley, he was upset at being told that he was banned from the store, and on October 7, 2012, he discussed the incident with an assistant manager at the Mobil station. According to the Complaint, the assistant manager told Bentley that store customers were to be served before lottery customers. Bentley claims that he expressed his disagreement with this policy, and told the manager that customers should be served on a first-come first-served basis. The assistant manager then allegedly accused Bentley of having an "attitude" when he comes into the store and demanding to be served immediately when entering the store. Bentley allegedly told the assistant manager that he simply expected to be treated like everyone else, and ended the conversation.

On October 8, 2012, two managers called Bentley and asked him to come to the store to discuss the incident that had taken place on October 6, 2012. Bentley came to the store, and the three discussed what had occurred. Bentley told the managers that as a customer of the store for 15 years, they should have come to him first to discuss any complaints they had regarding his alleged behavior. Thereafter, on October 31, 2012, Bentley filed the instant Complaint claiming that he was discriminated against when he was told that he was banned from the store. Plaintiff has not alleged that he continues to be banned from the store, and indeed, indicates in his Complaint that he was invited to return to the store to discuss the October 6, 2012 incident. Moreover, according to the Complaint, Bentley has not been banned from another store owned by defendant Bruckel.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard for Motion to Dismiss

In reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court must "accept... all factual allegations in the complaint and draw... all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor." See Ruotolo v. City of New York , 514 F.3d 184, 188 (2d Cir.2008) (internal quotation marks omitted). In order to withstand dismissal, the complaint must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007) (disavowing the oft-quoted statement from Conley v. Gibson , 355 U.S. 41 (1957), that "a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief").

"While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." See id. at 1965 (internal quotation marks omitted). Moreover, conclusory allegations are not entitled to any assumption of truth, and therefore, will not support a finding that the plaintiff has stated a valid claim. Hayden v. Patterson , 594 F.3d 150, 161 (2nd Circ., 2010). Thus, "at a bare minimum, the operative standard requires the plaintiff [to] provide the grounds upon which his claim rests through ...


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