United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON MOTION TO DISMISS
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Williams (“Plaintiff”), brings this action
against the Connecticut Department of Corrections
(“DOC”) and four of its employees: Captain James
Shabenas, Lieutenant Herman Corvin, Lieutenant Brian Palmer,
and Warden Scott Efie (together “Defendants”).
Compl., ECF No. 1. Mr. Williams alleges that Defendants
violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as well as 42
U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983 and 1988, during the course of
Mr. Williams' employment with the DOC.
have moved to dismiss the Complaint under Rule 12(b)(1) based
on principles of claim preclusion as well as for failure to
state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). Def. Mot. to Dismiss, ECF
No. 17. For the reasons outlined below, Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Williams, who is African-American, allegedly began working
for the DOC as a corrections officer in 1999. Compl. ¶
36, ECF No. 1. Lieutenant Corvin and Lieutenant Palmer, Mr.
Williams' supervisors during the time of his employment,
are white. Captain James Shabenas and Warden Scott Efie, who
supervised Defendants Corvin and Palmer during the relevant
time period, are also white. During his employment with the
DOC, Mr. Williams alleges that Defendants subjected him to
various incidents of discrimination and retaliation.
Id. at ¶¶ 39-40.
Williams claims that, beginning in September of 2013,
Defendants subjected him to harassment and treated him
differently from similarly situated white employees.
Id. at ¶ 8. On one occasion, Mr. Williams
claims that he was transferred to work at a separate
correctional institution because of a situation involving a
set of missing keys, while Defendants took no such action
against white officers who were similarly involved.
Id. at ¶¶ 9-10. On another occasion, Mr.
Williams claims that he was improperly questioned about why
he had not changed surveillance tapes, despite
Defendants' knowledge that Mr. Williams was not required
to change the particular tapes at issue. Id. at
¶¶ 11-12. Mr. Williams further alleges that
Defendants subjected him to additional requirements that were
not required of his co-workers, such as requiring him to sign
the DOC log book when he was on duty. Id. at
¶¶ 13-14. In addition to these alleged instances of
harassment and disparate treatment, Mr. Williams claims that
he was denied several promotions despite being more qualified
than the individuals who were selected for those promotions,
all of whom were white. Id. at ¶¶ 16-17.
2014, Mr. Williams filed an employment discrimination
complaint with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and
Opportunities (“CHRO”) and with the Equal
Employment Opportunities Commission (“EEOC”) in
connection with this conduct. See Nov. 2014
EEOC/CHRO Letters, Compl. Ex. 1, ECF No. 1-1. The CHRO
released jurisdiction on November 18, 2014, and the EEOC
issued a “right to sue” letter on January 29,
April 28, 2015, before initiating this current action, Mr.
Williams filed a complaint in Williams v. Department of
Corrections,, Case No. 3:15-CV-00627 (VAB)
(“Williams I”), a separate lawsuit in this Court
consisting of nearly identical allegations against the same
Defendants. On August 24, 2016, the Court dismissed the
Williams I complaint without prejudice under Rule 12(b)(2) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to make
proper service and allowed Mr. Williams 30 days within which
to properly serve Defendants, setting a deadline of September
24, 2016. Id., Order, ECF No. 40. Mr. Williams did
not serve Defendants within the specified time frame,
triggering dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction under
the terms of the Court's order. Id. at 13.
Williams I was formally closed on June 27, 2017.
Id., Order, ECF No. 42.
October 19, 2016, after failing to comply with the September
24, 2016 service deadline specified in the initial lawsuit,
Mr. Williams filed a new Complaint, initiating this
lawsuit. The Complaint is based on the same
underlying facts as the complaint in the initial lawsuit, it
names the same Defendants, and it makes nearly identical
legal claims. Defendants now move to dismiss Mr.
Williams' new Complaint under Rule 12(b)(1) and Rule
STANDARD OF REVIEW
district court may not entertain a case where it lacks
subject matter jurisdiction. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(b)(1); Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110,
113 (2d Cir. 2000) (“A case is properly dismissed for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) when
the district court lacks the statutory or constitutional
power to adjudicate it.”). “A plaintiff asserting
subject matter jurisdiction has the burden of proving by a
preponderance of the evidence that it exists.”
Id. (citing Malik v. Meissner, 82 F.3d 560,
562 (2d Cir.1996)). When reviewing a motion to dismiss under
Rule 12(b)(1), “courts must accept as true all material
factual allegations in the complaint . . . .”
Shipping Fin. Serv. Corp. v. Drakos, 140 F.3d 129,
131 (2d Cir. 1998) (citation omitted). However, the court
must refrain “drawing from the pleadings inferences
favorable to the party asserting [jurisdiction].”
APWU v. Potter, 343 F.3d 619, 623 (2d Cir. 2003)
may also dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim
under Fed R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). When considering a motion to
dismiss under this rule, the Court must accept as true all
factual allegations in the complaint and draw all possible
inferences from those allegations in favor of the plaintiff.
See York v. Ass'n of the Bar of the City of New
York, 286 F.3d 122, 125 (2d Cir.), cert.
denied, 537 U.S. 1089 (2002). The proper consideration
is not whether the plaintiff ultimately will prevail, but
whether the plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief
may be granted such that he should be entitled to offer
evidence to support his claim. See id. (citation
reviewing a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), the court applies
“a ‘plausibility standard, '” which is
guided by “two working principles.” Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). First, the
requirement that the Court accept as true the allegations in
a complaint “is inapplicable to legal
conclusions.” Id. “Threadbare recitals
of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere
conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id.
Second, to survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must
state a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 679.
Determining whether the complaint states a plausible claim
for relief is “‘a context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense.'” Harris v.
Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).