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Stelly v. Peters

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

November 21, 2014

MATTHEW STELLY, and CHERYL WILLIAMS, Plaintiffs,
v.
ROBERT PETERS, JAMES THELE, MIKE SAKLAR, MARTIN SHUKERT, and JOHN REHTMEYER, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

JOHN M. GERRARD, District Judge.

This matter is before the court on review of Plaintiffs Cheryl Williams and Matthew Stelly's Complaint (Filing No. 1) and Amended Complaint (Filing No. 11) (together, "complaints"). Plaintiffs were granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this matter. The court now reviews the complaints in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).

I. BACKGROUND

A. Summary of Complaint

Plaintiffs filed their Complaint (Filing No. 1) against various members of the City of Omaha Planning Department ("planning department"). Plaintiffs purported to bring their action under the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act of 1986, 31 U.S.C. §§3801-3812 ("PFCRA"). They also alleged various instances of employment discrimination in the Complaint, though it was not clear whether they were the subjects of the discrimination referenced in the Complaint. Plaintiffs generally alleged in the Complaint that the planning department was "responsible for the theft of over $200 million" because it had not used grant money it received from the federal government to redevelop the north side of Omaha. (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 2.)

B. Findings on Initial Review

The court conducted an initial review of the Complaint on August 19, 2014. (Filing No. 10.) The court determined the Complaint did not comply with general pleading requirements because it did not give Defendants fair notice of the claims against them. In addition, the court determined Plaintiffs could not rely on the PFCRA to recover against Defendants. See Orfanos v. Dep't of Health and Human Servs., 896 F.Supp. 23, 24-25 (D.D.C. 1995) ("The [PFCRA] was enacted in 1986 to allow federal departments and agencies... to pursue administrative actions... for false, fictitious or fraudulent claims for benefits or payments under a federal agency program.).

The court gave Plaintiffs 30 days in which to amend their Complaint. Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint (Filing No. 11) on September 22, 2014. A discussion of Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint follows. The court will discuss the claims pertaining to each Plaintiff separately.

II. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS ON INITIAL REVIEW

The court is required to review in forma pauperis complaints to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The court must dismiss a complaint or any portion thereof that states a frivolous or malicious claim, that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

Pro se plaintiffs must set forth enough factual allegations to "nudge[ ] their claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, " or "their complaint must be dismissed" for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) ("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."). Regardless of whether a plaintiff is represented or is appearing pro se, the plaintiff's complaint must allege specific facts sufficient to state a claim. See Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985). However, a pro se plaintiff's allegations must be construed liberally. Burke v. North Dakota Dep't of Corr. & Rehab., 294 F.3d 1043, 1043-44 (8th Cir. 2002) (citations omitted).

III. DISCUSSION OF CLAIMS MADE BY CHERYL WILLIAMS

A. Race Discrimination

Williams alleged in the Amended Complaint that she worked for the planning department for 23 years. (Filing No. 11 at CM/ECF p. 5.) In July 2010, her superiors demoted her to a position held by individuals who had only worked for the department for five years. Williams also alleged that on July 19, 2011, "[i]nformation [was] revealed that jobs ...


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