United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
se plaintiff Phyllis Hill's amended complaint [Doc.
No. 22], construed as a motion for leave to amend her
complaint, is granted. Accordingly, her complaint filed as of
April 6, 2017, constitutes the operable complaint.
Defendants' motion to strike the amended complaint [Doc.
No. 23] is denied, and defendants' motion to dismiss
[Doc. No. 16] is granted in part. See also Doc. No.
23, n. 1 (incorporating by reference defendants'
previously filed motion to dismiss). Hill's motion to
dismiss [Doc. No. 25] is denied.
ruling on a motion to dismiss, the complaint's factual
allegations and reasonable inferences must be accepted as
true, but only to the extent they do not amount to conclusory
statements and legal characterizations. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). As an initial matter,
Hill's complaint is extremely difficult to understand,
contains a plethora of disjointed legal jargon, and is
largely devoid of factual content. “Courts must not
presume the truth of legal conclusions couched as factual
allegations, ” Hager v. Arkansas Dep't of
Health, 735 F.3d 1009, 1013 (8th Cir. 2013), and even
construing Hill's complaint liberally, few, if any of her
pleadings are plead specifically or coherently enough to
state plausible claims to relief and to give fair notice of
the grounds upon which the claims rest. See
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007); see
also Hager, 735 F.3d at 1015 (“[Plaintiff's]
conclusory assertion that she was discharged under
circumstances similarly situated men were not imports legal
language couched as a factual allegation and fails to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.”);
Evans v. Autozone Stores, Inc., No. 05 CV 1086, 2008
WL 697752, at *7 (W.D. Ark. Mar. 13, 2008) (“Mere
utterance of an epithet which engenders offensive feelings in
an employee does not sufficiently affect the conditions of
employment to implicate Title VII.”). Neither
Hill's response [Doc. No. 21] to the defendants'
motion to dismiss nor her most recently amended complaint
[Doc. No. 22] address these deficiencies.
only claim that comes close to meeting even a liberal
pleading standard is Hill's retaliation claim. Hill
states that employees at the Arkansas Department of Human
Services (ADHS) retaliated against her by making it difficult
to get a raise after she filed a complaint with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Second Amended
Complaint ¶¶ 12, 29, Doc. No. 22. Filing such a
complaint is protected conduct under Title VII. Womack v.
Munson, 619 F.2d 1292, 1297 (8th Cir. 1980). Hill's
Title VII retaliation claim may proceed. The rest of her
complaint is dismissed without prejudice for failure to state
a claim, among other reasons as set out below.
is problematic as well because the ADHS is a state agency,
and as such, it is entitled to sovereign immunity under the
Eleventh Amendment to the extent Hill makes claims for money
damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and
the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Buckley
v. Univ. of Arkansas Bd. of Trustees, 780 F.Supp.2d 827,
830 (E.D. Ark. 2011); Bd. of Trustees of Univ. of Alabama
v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356, 373 (2001). The ADHS is also
entitled to sovereign immunity from Hill's claims under
the Arkansas Civil Rights Act (ACRA). Ark. Code Ann. §
16-123-104 (“Nothing in this subchapter shall be
construed to waive the sovereign immunity of the State of
Arkansas.”); Cross v. Arkansas Livestock &
Poultry Comm'n, 943 S.W.2d 230, 232 (Ark. 1997).
Hill's claims for money damages against the ADHS under
the ADA, ADEA, and ACRA are dismissed for lack of
jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1).
Next, defendants in their individual capacities are not
liable under Title VII, the ADA, the ADEA, or the ACRA.
Bonomolo Hagen v. Clay Cent. Everly Cmty. Sch.
Dist., 121 F.3d 446, 447 (8th Cir. 1997) (“Our
Court quite recently has squarely held that supervisors may
not be held individually liable under Title VII.”);
Stebbins v. Hannah, No. 4:15CV00436 JLH JJV, 2015 WL
5996295, at *3 (E.D. Ark. Sept. 1, 2015) (explaining that
Title I and II of the ADA do not permit an action against
individual defendants), report and recommendation adopted,
No. 4:15CV00436 JLH JJV, 2015 WL 5999787 (E.D. Ark. Oct. 14,
2015), appeal dismissed (Apr. 26, 2016); Morrow v. City
of Jacksonville, Ark., 941 F.Supp. 816, 820 (E.D. Ark.
1996) (Title VII, ADA, and ADEA claims against defendants in
their individual capacities dismissed according to the
prevailing view); Evans, 2008 WL 697752 at *5
(“These individual Defendants are not
“employers” under either Title VII or the
ACRA.”). Accordingly, Hill's claims under Title
VII, the ADA, the ADEA, and the ACRA against Claudette Holt,
David Tures, John Parke, Kelton Phillips, Lacey Wynes, Terri
Jones, Anthony Gilbert, Stephen Savage, Timothy Lampe, Job
Serebrov, Rowena Reyes, Michael Munnerlyn, and Walter
Barrington are all dismissed.
pleads no factual allegations against the Arkansas Claim
Commissioner, and he is dismissed for failure to state a
Michael Crump is dismissed because Hill attacks him in his
capacity as an administrative law judge. Brown v.
Griesenauer, 970 F.2d 431, 435 (8th Cir. 1992)
(“Judges are entitled to absolute immunity for actions
taken in their judicial capacity.”). Furthermore,
according to the complaint, Crump is neither a coworker nor
supervisor to Hill.
these reasons, Hill may proceed with her Title VII
retaliation claim against the Arkansas Department of Human