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Middlebrooks v. Centurylink Communications

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

April 7, 2015

THERESA ELAINE MIDDLEBROOKS, Plaintiff,
v.
CENTURYLINK COMMUNICATIONS, and QWEST COMMUNICATIONS, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

JOHN M. GERRARD, District Judge.

Plaintiff Theresa Elaine Middlebrooks filed her Complaint (Filing No. 1) in this matter on January 5, 2015. This court has given her leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The court now conducts an initial review of her Complaint to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

Plaintiff was apparently employed by Defendants. (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 1.) Liberally construed, Plaintiff alleges she was discriminated against on the basis of age and disability in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634, and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12213.[1] Liberally construed, Plaintiff may also be attempting to assert claims under the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601-2654.

Plaintiff alleged the events set forth in her Complaint "occurred on a continuous basis for the ongoing period of about five to seven years beginning in about 2008." (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 2.) Plaintiff's allegations of what occurred are vague and disjointed. She alleged she was "initially being harassed by several managers." ( Id. ) At some point, the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission confirmed "discrimination actions were being committed." ( Id. ) Thereafter, the harassment stopped and then started again. It is unclear what this harassment consisted of or whether Plaintiff's remaining allegations constitute the harassment she complains of.

Plaintiff alleges that, at some point, she was denied leave under the FMLA even though she was eligible to receive it. ( Id. ) Plaintiff also alleges that, at some point while she was at work, "all eight bottles of [her] medicine had been dumped into the bottom of [her] purse, " apparently by someone at her work. ( Id. at CM/ECF p. 2.) According to Plaintiff, she complained to management about the incident with her medication "along with other [issues]" she was having at work, and "no changes were made." ( Id. )

At some point thereafter, while Plaintiff was in a meeting with a "union stewardess, " Plaintiff stated, "I'm not sure if I should be [sic] bring a weapon or gun to my job to protect myself or what." ( Id. at CM/ECF p. 3.) Plaintiff's employment was terminated "for making reference to a gun." ( Id. ) Upon Plaintiff's termination, the company kept all of Plaintiff's vacation and paid time off. ( Id. ) Also, "due to company error, " she was unable to obtain COBRA medical coverage to treat her "congestive heart failure." ( Id. ) Plaintiff does not explain what relief she seeks except to state she would like assistance finding a lawyer to represent her. ( Id. at CM/ECF p. 5.)

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). The court must dismiss a complaint or any portion of it 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." 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.").

"The essential function of a complaint under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is to give the opposing party fair notice of the nature and basis or grounds for a claim, and a general indication of the type of litigation involved.'" Topchian v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Hopkins v. Saunders, 199 F.3d 968, 973 (8th Cir. 1999)). However, "[a] pro se complaint must be liberally construed, and pro se litigants are held to a lesser pleading standard than other parties." Topchian, 760 F.3d at 849 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

III. DISCUSSION OF CLAIMS

A. Allegations of Discrimination

Plaintiff set forth in her Complaint that she suffered age and disability discrimination. As discussed below, her Complaint does not state a plausible claim that she was ...


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