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Gonzalez v. City of Glendale

United States District Court, D. Arizona

November 30, 2018

Maria Orozco Gonzalez, Plaintiff,
City of Glendale, et al., Defendants.



         Pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss under Rule 41(b). (Doc. 17.) As explained below, the motion will be denied. Additionally, the Court will construe Plaintiff's recent filings as a request under Rule 15(a)(2) to file a second amended complaint, will grant that request, and will order Doc. 19 to be treated as her second amended complaint.


         On December 12, 2017, Plaintiff Maria Orozco Gonzalez filed a pro se complaint. (Doc. 1.) The complaint was difficult to follow. For example, although the complaint asserted that Plaintiff had suffered “harassment due to my Disabilities and my Gender, ” it did not specifically identify or assert any causes of action. (Doc. 1 at 1-2.) Similarly, although the complaint identified, by name, several different employees of the City of Glendale and seemed to be accusing each of them of wrongdoing, the introductory paragraph of the complaint identified only a single party as a defendant: “The defendant, City of Glendale C/O Nancy Mangone.” (Doc. 1 at 1.)

         On December 12, 2017, soon after the complaint was filed, the Court provided Plaintiff with a document entitled “Notice to Self-Represented Litigant.” (Doc. 4.) Among other things, this document identified various manuals and resources that were available to Plaintiff.

         On April 3, 2018, the City of Glendale and Nancy Mangone (collectively, “Defendants”) filed a motion for a more definite statement. (Doc. 11.) This motion argued the complaint was “ambiguous as to who is suing, under what theories of liability, why Plaintiff sues Nancy Mangone, and if Plaintiff is suing the City of Glendale.” (Doc. 11 at 2.)

         On June 29, 2018, the Court issued an order granting the motion for a more definite statement. (Doc. 15.) The order concluded that additional clarification was needed because (1) “Plaintiff names both the City of Glendale and Nancy Mangone as Defendants, but her allegations fail to make clear precisely why the alleged acts in the Complaint give rise to liability for either the City or Mangone”; (2) “although the Complaint contains allegations about Plaintiff's husband's own disabilities, it is unclear whether Plaintiff purports to bring suit on behalf of her husband as well” and (3) “Plaintiff fails to allege the precise cause of action which would give rise to Defendants' liability.” (Doc. 15 at 2.) Thus, the order required Plaintiff to file an amended complaint and specified that the “Amended Complaint shall set out in separately numbered paragraphs the factual basis for each claim that Plaintiff alleges and the precise legal theory supporting that claim. The Amended Complaint shall also make clear who Plaintiff is suing-and in what capacity- and how Plaintiff's allegations give rise to liability for each Defendant named in the Amended Complaint.” (Doc. 15 at 3.)

         On July 19, 2018, Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint (“FAC”). (Doc. 16.) The FAC did not comply with the Court's previous order. Among other things, (1) the caption of the FAC suggested Plaintiff was suing more than one defendant but did not identify each defendant with precision (“City of Glendale, et al., Defendants”); (2) the FAC did not contain separately-numbered paragraphs, which the Court had expressly required in its previous order; and (3) although the FAC broadly alluded to several different statutes and types of misconduct (the FMLA, the “American with Disability ACT, ” and harassment), it did not attempt to funnel these allusions into discrete causes of action.

         On August 3, 2018, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 41(b). (Doc. 17.) In it, Defendants argued that (1) the FAC remains deficient under Rules 8 and 10- and, in fact, “is more deficient than her original Complaint”-because it fails to identify the parties, damages, and causes of action with any precision; (2) because the FAC was submitted after the Court ordered Plaintiff to supply a more definite statement, its submission should be deemed a violation of a court order; and (3) under Rule 41(b), the Court may dismiss a complaint for failure to comply with court orders. (Doc. 17 at 2-7.)

         On August 7, 2018, the Court issued an order requiring Plaintiff to “file with the Clerk of the Court and serve on opposing counsel a responsive memorandum to [the motion to dismiss] no later than August 24, 2018.” (Doc. 18.)

         On August 24, 2018, Plaintiff filed a document entitled “Complaint (Amended) For A Civil Case.” (Doc. 19.) On the one hand, this pleading was not a responsive memorandum (as required by the Court's August 7, 2018 order). On the other hand, this pleading finally supplied the details that were missing in Plaintiff's original complaint and Plaintiff's FAC. It identified two defendants with precision (City of Glendale and Carl Westbrooks), asserted that “[t]he basis for federal court jurisdiction is Federal question, ” identified three causes of action with prevision (first, “Violation of the FMLA Act”; second, “Violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990”; and third, “Gender Discrimination, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964”), used numbered paragraphs to supply the factual allegations supporting each cause of action, and concluded with a detailed claim for relief. (Doc. 19 at 1-9.)

         On August 24, 2018, Plaintiff also filed a separate document entitled “Answer to Order.” (Doc. 20.) The purpose of this document isn't clear.

         On August 31, 2018, Defendants filed a reply in support of the motion to dismiss. (Doc. 21.) In it, Defendants argued that (1) Plaintiff's two submissions on August 24 were inadequate because neither constituted a “responsive memorandum” to the motion to dismiss; and (2) Plaintiff's attempt to submit a new complaint also violated Rule 15(a)(2) because she didn't “first seek[] leave of the Court or consent of opposing counsel.” (Doc. 21 at 2.)

         On September 13, 2018, Plaintiff submitted a document entitled “Response to Rule 41 Motion to Dismiss.” (Doc. 22.) This pleading includes the following passage: “I have filed an Amended Complaint. I followed the sample provided in the form on the United States Federal Court's website. I listed, in my Statement of Claim, my facts regarding each of the counts. As ...

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