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Paschal v. Billy Beru


January 13, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Nora Barry Fischer


Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's second Amended Complaint. (Docket No. 16). On November 11, 2008, Plaintiff Curtis Hyram Paschal ("Plaintiff"), proceeding pro se, filed a second Amended Complaint (Docket No. 15) against Billy Beru, Inc. ("Defendant"), alleging that Defendant discriminated against him on the basis of his race in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000a et seq.*fn1 (Docket No. 15 at 2). On December 2, 2008, Defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss on the basis that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Docket No. 16). For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion is DENIED.

A complaint may be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) if it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ehrheart v. Verizon Wireless, Civil Action No. 07-1165, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73416, at *3 n. 1 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 25, 2008)(citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,--U.S.--, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (May 21, 2007)). "This'does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage,' but instead'simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' the necessary element." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008)(quoting Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1965).

A complaint need not set forth detailed factual allegations; however, "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." Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1964-65. A plaintiff must aver sufficient factual allegations in order "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true." Id. (internal citations omitted). Because Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, his pleadings are "to be liberally construed." Erickson v. Pardus,--U.S.--, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007)(quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). Furthermore, "a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Id.

Section 2000a(a) of Title 42 provides that: All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.

42 U.S.C. § 2000a(a).

Defendant contends that Plaintiff's second Amended Complaint must be dismissed because he has not pled sufficient facts that would plausibly entitle him to relief under 42 U.S.C. § 2000a et seq.*fn2 (Docket No. 18 at 2). However, in contrast to Plaintiff's previous complaints (See Docket Nos. 1 and 6), the second Amended Complaint sets forth a specific incident that, when viewed in a light most favorable to him, could plausibly form the basis for a suit under 42 U.S.C. § 2000a et seq. Specifically, Plaintiff claims that on or about July 13, 2008, a female bartender required Plaintiff to pay for his food before allowing him to eat, while no Caucasian customers were asked to do the same. (Docket No. 15 at 2).

These facts, viewed in a light most favorable to Plaintiff, would support his claim as requiring African-Americans to pay before serving them their food while not requiring Caucasian patrons to do the same interferes with the "full and equal enjoyment" of the goods and services offered by Defendant. 42 U.S.C. § 2000a(a). These facts are sufficient to provide Defendant notice as to "the grounds on which [Plaintiff's] claim rests." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 233 (internal quotations omitted); see also Williams v. Ramada Inn, Civ. A. No. 06-217, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56739 (W.D. Pa. Aug. 3, 2007)(plaintiffs' allegations that defendant restaurant required African-Americans to produce identification in order to obtain menus, while Caucasian patrons were allegedly not required to do so, sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)).

Accordingly, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [16] is DENIED.

Nora Barry Fischer United States District Judge

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