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Campbell v. Bristol Community College

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

January 17, 2018



          F. Dennis Saylor, IV, United States District Judge

         This is an employment discrimination action. Plaintiff Marlyne Campbell alleges that defendant Bristol Community College discriminated against her because of her race and retaliated against her for voicing her concerns. Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a complaint that survived a motion to dismiss; she then amended the complaint with permission of the Court, which also survived a motion to dismiss. She has since obtained counsel, and now requests leave to amend her complaint a second time, arguing that with the assistance of counsel she has discovered new claims.

         Because the claims plaintiff seeks to add would be futile, her motion to amend will be denied.

         I. Background

         The facts alleged by plaintiff are discussed in detail in the Court's February 23, 2017 order on defendant's motion to dismiss. In brief, the amended complaint alleges that Campbell was employed as a Career Development Counselor at Bristol Community College; that officials there repeatedly used an offensive racial slur to describe a particular grant program; that she was retaliated against when she expressed her concerns; and that she was eventually fired. (Am. Compl. at 5-11).

         Plaintiff filed this complaint pro se on June 23, 2016. On July 26, she filed a response to an order from this Court establishing that she had exhausted her administrative remedies with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and had received a right-to-sue letter dated April 15, 2016. Defendant moved to dismiss that complaint. On February 23, 2017, the Court granted that motion in part and dismissed all the state-law claims against defendant as barred by sovereign immunity and the hostile-work-environment claim as untimely. The Court denied the motion to dismiss without prejudice as to plaintiff's discrimination and retaliation claims and allowed her to file an amended complaint including more detailed allegations supporting those claims.

         Plaintiff then filed an amended complaint on March 17, 2017. Defendant filed a second motion to dismiss, which the Court also denied.

         On July 12, 2017, attorney Robert C. Johnson, Jr. entered an appearance for plaintiff. Plaintiff has now moved to amend the complaint again.

         II. Standard of Review

         Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure addresses amendments to pleadings.[1]Under Rule 15(a), a party may amend a “pleading” without leave of court in certain relatively narrow circumstances.[2] “In all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave. The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). “In the absence of any apparent or declared reason-such as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, futility of amendment, etc.-the leave sought should, as the rules require, be ‘freely given.'” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). In determining whether to grant a motion to amend, the court must examine the totality of the circumstances and “exercise its informed discretion in constructing a balance of pertinent considerations.” Palmer v. Champion Mortg., 465 F.3d 24, 30-31 (1st Cir. 2006).

         “‘Futility' means that the complaint, as amended, would fail to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.” Glassman v. Computervision Corp., 90 F.3d 617, 623 (1st Cir. 1996). “In reviewing for ‘futility, ' the district court applies the same standard of legal sufficiency as applies to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.” Id. On a motion to dismiss, the court “must assume the truth of all well-plead[ed] facts and give . . . plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable inferences therefrom.” Ruiz v. Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp., 496 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2007) (citing Rogan v. Menino, 175 F.3d 75, 77 (1st Cir. 1999)). To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must state a claim that is plausible on its face. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). That is, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, . . . on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. at 555 (citations omitted). “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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Dismissal is appropriate if the facts as alleged do not “possess enough heft to show that plaintiff is entitled to relief.” Ruiz Rivera v. Pfizer Pharm., LLC, 521 F.3d 76, 84 (1st Cir. 2008) (alterations omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         III. Analysis

         Plaintiff's proposed second amended complaint retains the two surviving counts of her first amended complaint for (1) retaliation and (2) racial discrimination. It seeks to add four additional claims: (3) age discrimination in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B; (4) “violation of due process”; (5) breach of contract by “failure to implement affirmative action/equal opportunity as required by federal Executive Order 11246”; and (6) negligent infliction of emotional distress.

         A. Count 3: ...

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