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Williams v. E & K Corp.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

February 2, 2016

Jonathan Williams, Plaintiff,
v.
E & K Corporation, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

Honorable G. Murray Snow United States District Judge

Pending before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss and for a More Definite Statement by Defendants the Union Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, Carpenters Local Union 1506, and William Martin (collectively “Union Defendants”). (Doc. 21.) For the following reasons, the Court grants in part and denies in part the Union Defendants’ motion. Also pending before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss by Defendant E&K. (Doc. 22.) For the following reasons, the Court denies Defendant E&K’s motion.

BACKGROUND

On December 16, 2014, Plaintiff Jonathan Williams filed a Complaint against Defendants E&K, “United Brotherhood of Carpenters-Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Local 1506, ” William Martin, Rigo Melendez, and Does 1-10. (Doc. 1.) Williams alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and asserted state law claims for breach of contract, fraud, misrepresentation, and breach of trust. On February 6, 2015, the Court granted Williams’s application to proceed without paying fees and screened the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2). (Doc. 7.) That February 6, 2015 Order dismissed some claims without prejudice and permitted other claims to proceed. (Doc. 7 at 14.) The Order also dismissed the Doe defendants. (Id.)

On March 30, 2015, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint. (Doc. 11.) Because Williams is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court again screened the First Amended Complaint (hereinafter “Complaint”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2). (Doc. 12.) That April 6, 2015 Order dismissed some additional claims without prejudice and permitted other claims to proceed. (Doc. 12 at 8-9.)

The Union Defendants and E&K filed the pending motions to dismiss. The Union Defendants moved to dismiss Count 2 (a Title VII retaliation claim) and Count 5 (a claim for fraud, misrepresentation, and breach of trust) and also moved for a more definite statement clarifying which entities Williams intended to sue when he named “United Brotherhood of Carpenters-Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Local 1506” which he thereinafter abbreviated to “Local 1506.” (Doc. 21.) Defendant E&K moved to dismiss Count 1 (a Title VII claim alleging race discrimination) and Count 3 (a breach of contract claim). (Doc. 22.) However, in its Reply, E&K withdrew its motion to dismiss as to Count 1. (Doc. 32 at 1-2.)

DISCUSSION

I. Legal Standard

“A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the legal sufficiency of a claim.” Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). “In deciding such a motion, all material allegations of the complaint are accepted as true, as well as all reasonable inferences to be drawn from them.” Id. However, “the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

To survive dismissal for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain more than “labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action”; it must contain factual allegations sufficient to “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A plaintiff must allege sufficient facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “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.” Id. “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.” Id.

The Complaint of a pro se plaintiff “must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, as the Supreme Court has reaffirmed since Twombly.Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (internal quotations omitted) (citing Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)). Courts continue to “have an obligation where the petitioner is pro se, particularly in civil rights cases, to construe the pleadings liberally and to afford the petitioner the benefit of any doubt.” Bretz v. Kelman, 773 F.2d 1026, 1027 n.1 (9th Cir. 1985).

II. Analysis

A. Retaliation

Williams alleged in Count 2 of his Complaint that in April 2014, he filed a charge of discrimination against Local 1506, alleging that Local 1506 was discriminating against him because he was African American. (Doc. 11 at ¶ 30.) Williams alleges that “[i]n retaliation for the grievance filed by Williams, Local 1506 [through] Jerry Vlock and other representatives conspired to harass Williams and prevent him from working in the ...


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