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Holmes v. Gates

March 11, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Yvette Kane, Chief Judge United States District Court Middle District of Pennsylvania

(Chief Judge Kane)


Pending before the Court is Defendant Robert Gates' "Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice" and supporting brief (Doc. Nos. 41, 42), Plaintiff Dorcas Holmes' brief in opposition (Doc. No. 44), and Defendant's reply brief (Doc. No. 45). For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Defendant's motion to dismiss.


On November 28, 2008, Plaintiff Dorcas Holmes filed this employment discrimination action against Defendant Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, as the head of the Defense Logistics Agency, an agency of the Department of Defense. (Doc. No. 1.) On March 27, 2009, Defendant moved for a more definite statement. (Doc. No. 7.) On March 31, 2009, the parties appeared before the Court in a case management conference, at which Plaintiff's counsel agreed to file an amended complaint. The case was stayed by the Court in order to allow Plaintiff to do so. (Doc. No. 10.) On April 16, 2009, Plaintiff filed her amended complaint. (Doc. No. 13.)

On June 4, 2009, Defendant again moved for a more definite statement or, in the alternative, to strike and dismiss. (Doc. No. 24.) On October 19, 2009, finding that Plaintiff failed to meet the pleading requirements set by the Supreme Court in Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, -- U.S. --, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009), the Court granted Defendant's motion for a more definite statement and ordered Plaintiff to file an amended complaint. (See Doc. No. 35.)

On October 20, 2009, Plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration of this Court's order granting Defendant's motion for a more definite statement. (Doc. No. 36.) On October 22, 2009, the Court denied Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration. (Doc. No. 39.)

In responding to the Court's order to file an amended complaint, Plaintiff submitted her second amended complaint on November 1, 2009. (Doc. No. 40.) After review, the Court finds that the body of Plaintiff's second amended complaint includes the exact same text as the first amended complaint, with the exception of three minor changes.*fn1 Specifically, Plaintiff adds the sentence "The actions continue through the present as reflected in Civil Action No. 09-2093" at the end of the fifth paragraph. (See Doc. No. 40 ¶ 5.) In paragraph 6, Plaintiff adds the word "and" between the words "opportunities" and "subjecting." (See Doc. Nos. 13 ¶ 6, 40 ¶ 6.) In paragraph 7, Plaintiff amends by adding lettered headings "a)" through "e)" to the paragraph. (Doc. No. 40 ¶ 7.) Additionally, Plaintiff amends the phrase "otherwise creating a hostile offensive and abusive work environment" in paragraph 7 by adding "through the abusive working conditions, repeated and bogus disciplinary suggested actions, lies and deceit in connection with the foregoing adverse employment actions, and overt and covert acts of racial animus." (Id.)

On November 16, 2009, Defendant filed the motion to dismiss which is presently pending before the Court. (Doc. No. 41.)


As this Court recognized in its previous order (Doc. No. 35), under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). The pleading standard under Rule 8 "does not require 'detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). As the Court in Iqbal explained:

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." 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. The plausibility standard is not akin to a "probability requirement," but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are "merely consistent with" a defendant's liability, it "stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of 'entitlement to relief.'" 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (internal citations omitted). "This . . . simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234 (internal quotations and citations omitted). In establishing a framework for district courts to analyze the sufficiency of a pleading after Iqbal, the Third Circuit has directed district courts to go through a two-part analysis:

First, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated. The District Court must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions. Second, a District Court must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a "plausible claim for relief." In other words, a complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief. A complaint has to "show" such an entitlement with its facts. . . . This ...

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