United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
O. Hickey United States District Judge.
the Court are two motions to dismiss (ECF Nos. 6 and 14)
filed by Defendants AutoZone Stores, LLC,  AutoZone
Development, LLC, AutoZone Texas, LLC, AutoZoners, LLC, and
Randy Magness (collectively referred to as
“Defendants”). Subsequent to Defendants'
first Motion to Dismiss, (ECF No. 6), Plaintiffs filed an
Amended Complaint which seeks relief on allegations of
additional violations. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint thus
supersedes the original Complaint, and Defendants' First
Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 6) is moot. Plaintiff has filed a
response to Defendants' second Motion to Dismiss (ECF No.
25), and Defendants have replied (ECF No. 26). The Court
finds this matter ripe for consideration.
is an African American male who was hired by Separate
Defendants AutoZone Stores, LLC (hereinafter referred to as
“AutoZone Stores”) and AutoZoners, LLC
(hereinafter referred to as “AutoZoners”) in
1995. Plaintiff contends that he was subjected
to discriminatory treatment based upon his race during his
employment. Specifically, Plaintiff asserts that he was
denied promotions in favor of lesser qualified Caucasian
applicants, falsely accused of taking store products in
violation of company policy, and illegally denied overtime
wages. In addition, Plaintiff contends that Separate
Defendant Randy Magness, Plaintiff's most recent district
manager, transferred him to a different store against company
policy on June 6, 2011. Plaintiff asserts that he reported
Magness to the regional manager and filed employment
discrimination and retaliation charges with the EEOC against
Magness. On September 13, 2011, Plaintiff was terminated from
October 13, 2011, Plaintiff filed an EEOC charge against
Defendants. Plaintiff received his right to sue letter from
the EEOC on August 10, 2012. On November 8, 2012, Plaintiff
filed an action in the Circuit Court of Lafayette County,
Arkansas, against Separate Defendants AutoZone Stores, and
Randy Magness alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1981,
the Arkansas Civil Rights Act (“ACRA”), Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act (“ADEA”), the Arkansas Minimum
Wage Act (“AMWA”) and the Fair Labor Standards
Act (FLSA). The action was later removed to federal court.
Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2) to voluntarily dismiss his
claims against Defendants without prejudice, which was
granted by this Court on October 2, 2014.
October 2, 2015, Plaintiff filed the instant action in the
Circuit Court of Lafayette County, Arkansas. The Complaint
alleged claims of race discrimination and retaliation in
violation of the ACRA. The Complaint also alleged violations
of the FLSA and the AMWA. The Complaint named AutoZone
Stores, Inc., AutoZone Stores, LLC, AutoZone Development, LLC
(hereinafter referred to as “AutoZone
Development”), AutoZone Texas, LLC (hereinafter
referred to as “AutoZone, Texas”), AutoZoners and
Randy Magness as Separate Defendants.
April 4, 2016, Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint. In his
Amended Complaint, Plaintiff asserts claims of race
discrimination and retaliation in violation of the ACRA and
42 U.S.C. § 1981. The Amended Complaint also alleges
violations of the AMWA. The Amended Complaint asserts each of
the aforementioned claims against Separate Defendants
AutoZone Stores, AutoZoners, and Randy Magness. The suit was
removed to this Court on April 20, 2016.
to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a
party may assert, by motion, a defense of “failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A motion to dismiss should only be
granted when a plaintiff fails to proffer “enough facts
to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007). When considering a 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss, the Court accepts all facts alleged in the Complaint
as true. Knapp v. Hanson, 183 F.3d 786, 788 (8th
Cir. 1999). The Court must construe all reasonable inferences
arising from the complaint in favor of the nonmoving party.
Crumpley-Patterson v. Trinity Lutheran Hosp., 388
F.3d 588, 590 (8th Cir. 2004).
Separate Defendants AutoZone Development and AutoZone
Defendants move the Court to dismiss all claims against
AutoZone Development and AutoZone Texas. Defendants contend
that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint fails to assert any
facts that would support relief against these Defendants.
Defendants further assert that, although Plaintiff's
original Complaint (ECF No. 4) named AutoZone Development and
AutoZone Texas as defendants, the Amended Complaint removes
both of them from the caption and body of the pleading.
Defendants argue that, as a result of this omission,
Plaintiff intended to dismiss all claims against AutoZone
Development and AutoZone Texas. Defendants move the court to
construe the Amended Complaint as a motion for voluntary
dismissal without prejudice pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 41(a)(2). In his Response, Plaintiff does not
appear to oppose Defendants' argument that he voluntarily
dismissed the claims against AutoZone Development and
AutoZone Texas through filing the Amended Complaint.
amendment pursuant to Rule 15 that eliminates (or proposes to
eliminate) all causes of action against a particular
defendant is the same as a motion to dismiss under Rule
41(a)(2) as to that defendant.” Dee-K Enterprises,
Inc. v. Heveafil Sdn. Bhd., 177 F.R.D. 351, 355 (E.D.
Va. 1998). When a plaintiff “seeks the equivalent of a
voluntary dismissal through some other procedural device, the
court may treat the application as if made under Rule
41(a)(2).” Moore's Federal Practice, Civil - §
41.40 [a] (2015); see also Cooper v. City of
Westerville, Ohio, No. 2:13-cv-427, 2014 WL 617650, at
*6 (S.D. Ohio Feb. 18, 2014) (construing a plaintiff's
amendment under Rule 15, which dropped all § 1983 claims
against defendants, as a proper dismissal under Rule 41).
present case, Plaintiff essentially dismissed his claims
against Separate Defendants AutoZone Development and AutoZone
Texas through the filing of amendments to his original
Complaint which removed all references to them. Although
Plaintiff did not file a Rule 41(a) motion for voluntary
dismissal, the effect of his amendments to the original
Complaint was that of voluntarily dismissing those parties.
The Court concludes that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is
properly construed as a voluntary dismissal under Rule 41 as
to Separate Defendants AutoZone Development and AutoZone
Texas. Accordingly, the Court finds that Defendants'
Motion to ...