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Lawtone-Bowles v. City of New York, Dep't of Sanitation

United States District Court, S.D. New York

May 30, 2014

NICOLE LAWTONE-BOWLES, Plaintiff, -
v.
- THE CITY OF NEW YORK, DEPARTMENT OF SANITATION, ET AL., Defendants

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 343

Nicole Lawtone-Bowles, Plaintiff, Pro se.

Page 344

OPINION AND ORDER

John G. Koeltl, United States District Judge.

Pro se plaintiff Nicole Lawtone-Bowles brings this action against the City of New York, Department of Sanitation (" DSNY" ) and Kadaya Pouncie, alleging employment discrimination, retaliation, failure to accommodate, assault, and negligent supervision and retention under various provisions of state and federal law.[1] The DSNY has moved to dismiss the plaintiff's claims against it under Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.[2]

I.

In deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the allegations

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in the complaint are accepted as true, and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the plaintiff's favor. McCarthy v. Dun & Bradstreet Corp., 482 F.3d 184, 191 (2d Cir. 2007). The Court's function on a motion to dismiss is " not to weigh the evidence that might be presented at a trial but merely to determine whether the complaint itself is legally sufficient." Goldman v. Belden, 754 F.2d 1059, 1067 (2d Cir. 1985). The Court should not dismiss the complaint if the plaintiff has stated " enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). " A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). While the Court should construe the factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, " the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in the complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Id.

When faced with a pro se complaint, the Court must " construe [the] complaint liberally and interpret it to raise the strongest arguments that it suggests." Chavis v. Chappius, 618 F.3d 162, 170 (2d Cir. 2010) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). " Even in a pro se case, however, . . . threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. (citation omitted). Thus, although the Court is " obligated to draw the most favorable inferences" that the complaint supports, it " cannot invent factual allegations that [the plaintiff] has not pled." Id.; see also Seymore v. Dept. of Corr. Servs., No. 11 Civ. 2254, 2014 WL 641428, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 18, 2014).

When presented with a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the Court may consider documents that are referenced in the complaint, documents that the plaintiff relied on in bringing suit and that are either in the plaintiff's possession or that the plaintiff knew of when bringing suit, or matters of which judicial notice may be taken. See Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 153 (2d Cir. 2002); see also Winfield v. Citibank, N.A., 842 F.Supp.2d 560, 564 (S.D.N.Y. 2012).

To survive a motion brought under Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears the burden of proving the Court's jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000). Moreover, in considering such a motion, the Court generally must accept the material factual allegations in the complaint as true, but the Court does not draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. J.S. ex rel. N.S. v. Attica Cent. Sch., 386 F.3d 107, 110 (2d Cir. 2004); Graubart v. Jazz Images, Inc., No. 02 Civ. 4645, 2006 WL 1140724, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 27, 2006). Indeed, where jurisdictional facts are disputed, the Court has the power and the obligation to consider matters outside the pleadings, such as affidavits, documents, and testimony, to determine whether jurisdiction exists. See APWU v. Potter, 343 F.3d 619, 627 (2d Cir. 2003).

II.

The following facts are accepted as true for purposes of this motion to dismiss.

A.

In June 2012,[3] the plaintiff was employed by the DSNY ...


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