United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING AND ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS
A. Bolden United States District Judge
August 24, 2018, Secrett Hampton (“Plaintiff”)
sued the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch (“State
Judicial Branch”), Stephen Grant, Debroah Fuller, and
John Fitzgerald (collectively, “Defendants”),
alleging, inter alia, that Defendants' unpaid
suspension and termination of her employment violated Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et
seq., 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983, and several
state laws. Complaint, dated Aug. 24, 2018
(“Compl.”), ECF No. 1.
January 16, 2019, Defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint.
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, dated Jan. 16, 2019
(“Mot.”), ECF No. 24; Defendants' Memorandum
of Law in Support of Mot., dated Jan. 16, 2019
(“Defs.' Mem.”), ECF No. 24-1.
reasons explained below, Defendants' motion to dismiss is
GRANTED, as the Court finds that (1) Ms. Hampton has failed
to plead sufficient facts to state a plausible claim upon
which relief can be granted under either Title VII or §
1983; and (2) Ms. Hampton has not stated a cause of action
under § 1981 that appears to be independent from her
§ 1983 claim. Because her federal claims are dismissed,
Ms. Hampton's state law claims are dismissed without
prejudice to being refiled in state court, as the Court
declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over those
claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c).
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Hampton, an African-American woman, works as a Juvenile
Detention Transportation Officer for the State of Connecticut
Judicial Branch (hereafter, the “State Judicial
Branch”) in the Court Support Services Division at the
Juvenile Residential Services Unit at 239 Whalley Avenue in
New Haven, Connecticut. Compl. ¶¶ 13, 12. Ms.
Hampton alleges that the State Judicial Branch employs more
than one hundred employees. Id. ¶ 11.
October 21, 2016, Ms. Hampton alleges that she and fellow
officer Aquil Abdul-Salaam, an African-American man,
“transported a known dangerous juvenile inmate to a
medical appointment.” Id. ¶¶ 15-16.
Hampton alleges that a “short time” before
transporting him, this inmate “assaulted a seasoned
male staff member at the facility at which the inmate was
housed, choking and severely injuring the staff
member[.]” Id. ¶ 17. On another occasion,
Ms. Hampton alleges that this same inmate, while being
transported, “became so enraged that he attempted to
kick out the doors of the transport van, ” requiring
Ms. Hampton to pull over and wait for additional staff to
arrive to assist her. Id.
this inmate was so dangerous, Ms. Hampton alleges that on
October 21, 2016- before she took him to his medical
appointment, along with Mr. Abdul-Salaam-the inmate
“was placed in the most restrictive mechanical
restraints available and permissible” under
Defendants' policies, “including leg shackles,
handcuffs and a belly chain secured around his waist attached
to the handcuffs.” Id. ¶ 18. Ms. Hampton
and Mr. Abdul-Salaam then allegedly took him to his medical
appointment, which allegedly took place in a “busy
public physician's office.” Id.
¶¶ 15, 19.
arriving at the office, the inmate allegedly “defeated
his restraints, leaving the now unsecured belly chain
attached to his handcuffs in front of his body, for ready use
as a deadly weapon.” Id. ¶ 20. The inmate
allegedly refused to comply with Ms. Hampton's
directives, “acted in a threatening manner, ” and
then “fled the medical office.” Id.
Ms. Hampton alleges that she and Mr. Abdul-Salaam followed
the inmate at a safe distance as required by State Judicial
Branch policy, they were allegedly “unable to safely
restrain him and return him to custody.” Id.
¶ 22. Ms. Hampton and Mr. Abdul-Salaam allegedly then
returned to their work location and completed incident
reports detailing the escape. Id. ¶ 24.
that day, Mr. Hampton alleges that John Fitzgerald, the
Superintendent of the State Judicial Branch, and Jimmy Gomez,
a Shift Supervisor of the State Judicial Branch, approached
her at the end of her shift. Id. ¶ 25. She
alleges they told her to hand in her badge, and that
Defendants placed her on unpaid administrative leave
“prior to any investigation whatsoever.”
Id. ¶¶ 26-27. She also alleges, upon
information and belief, that Defendants reported her to the
State of Connecticut Department of Children and Families
(“DCF”) for physical and emotional neglect of the
inmate. Id. ¶ 28.
Hampton alleges that Defendants “refused and failed to
conduct a timely investigation, ” and that she
“remained on unpaid administrative leave for a
protracted time.” Id. ¶ 30.
February 3, 2017, Defendants allegedly terminated Ms.
Hampton's employment. Id. ¶ 31.
Hampton alleges that both of these decisions were
“recommended” by Deborah Fuller, Director of
Family/Juvenile Services for the State Judicial Branch, and
Mr. Fitzgerald, and that Stephen Grant, Executive Director of
the Court Support Services Division, made the final decisions
to suspend and then terminate her. Id. ¶¶
32-33. Ms. Hampton alleges that all three of these individual
defendants are white. Id.
April 2, 2018, Ms. Hampton alleges that DCF's findings of
neglect were “reversed on appeal to that agency and set
aside.” Id. ¶ 34. Ms. Hampton alleges
that Defendants had relied, in part, on those findings when
disciplining her. Id.
23, 2018, Ms. Hampton alleges that her termination and a
“substantial portion” of her unpaid suspension
were reversed by a union arbitration award. Id.
August 24, 2018, Ms. Hampton sued Defendants. See
Compl. Ms. Hampton alleged three causes of action that appear
to have been brought against the State Judicial Branch only,
arising from her unpaid suspension and termination: (1)
“discrimination based upon race, color, ethnicity,
gender or in retaliation for her protected complaints about
unlawful conduct, ” in violation of Title VII, Compl.
¶¶ 44-47 (Count One); (2) violation of Ms.
Hampton's “common law rights” under
Connecticut law, due to the State Judicial Branch's
alleged discrimination in violation of the Connecticut Fair
Employment Practices Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. §§
45a-60 et seq. (“CFEPA”), id.
at 9, ¶¶ 47-48 (Count Two); and (3) violations of
Ms. Hampton's “common law rights” under
Connecticut law, due to the State Judicial Branch's
alleged failure to adequately train, screen, hire, or
supervise employees, id. at 9-10, ¶¶ 47-48
Hampton also alleged two causes of action against Mr. Grant,
Ms. Fuller, and Mr. Fitzgerald: (1) intentional infliction of
emotional distress, id. at 10-11, ¶¶ 47-51
(Count Four); and (2) intentional, reckless, and
discriminatory conduct, and disparate treatment, in violation
of “equal protection, due process, and 42 U.S.C.
[§§] 1981 and 1983.” See Id. at
11-12, ¶¶ 47-53 (Count Five). With respect to Count
Five, Ms. Hampton is suing Mr. Grant, Ms. Fuller, and Mr.
Fitzgerald in their individual capacities only. Id.
at 11, ¶¶ 47-49.
five counts, Ms. Hampton claims Defendants' actions have
resulted in: “loss of her rights; humiliation and
ridicule; economic losses, including but not limited to loss
of income and employment benefits; loss of employment
opportunities, advancement and training; loss of self-esteem,
peace of mind, emotional and physical well-being; loss of
reputation and standing in his employment, in the eyes of
prospective employers and in the public at large; and has
suffered severe emotional and mental distress.” See
Id. at 8, ¶ 47; 9, ¶ 48; 10, ¶ 48; 10-11,
¶ 51; 12, ¶ 53.
November 2, 2018, counsel appeared for the State Judicial
Branch and for the individual Defendants. Notice of
Appearance, dated Nov. 2, 2018, ECF No. 9. Counsel claimed,
however, to be representing Mr. Grant, Ms. Fuller, and Mr.
Fitzgerald in their official capacities only. Id.
same day, Defendants moved for: (1) an order requiring Ms.
Hampton to post a bond as security for costs in the amount of
$500, Motion for Security for Costs, dated Nov. 2, 2018, ECF
No. 10; and (2) an extension of time until December 3, 2018
to respond to the Complaint, Motion for Extension of Time,
dated Nov. 2, 2018, ECF No. 11.
November 3, 2018, the Court granted Defendants' motion to
extend time and extended Defendants' time to respond to
the Complaint to December 3, 2018. Order, dated Nov. 3, 2018,
ECF No. 12.
November 5, 2018, the Clerk of the Court granted
Defendants' motion for security for costs. Order, dated
Nov. 5, 2018, ECF No. 13.
November 27, 2018, counsel appeared for Mr. Fitzgerald and
Ms. Fuller, claiming to now represent them in their
individual capacities as well.
same day, Defendants again moved to extend their time to
respond to the Complaint. Motion for Extension of Time, dated
Nov. 27, 2018, ECF No. 15.
November 28, 2018, the Court granted Defendants' motion
and extended Defendants' time to respond to the Complaint
to January 17, 2019. Order, dated Nov. 28, 2018, ECF No. 16.
December 14, 2018, Defendants moved for default and summary
dismissal of this action, with prejudice, for failure to post
the bond for costs. Motion for Default for Failure to Post
Security for Costs, dated Dec. 14, 2018, ECF No. 17.
December 17, 2018, Ms. Hampton posted security for costs in
the amount of $500. See ECF No. 19.
December 20, 2018, Defendants withdrew the motion for default
for failure to post bond. Motion to Withdraw Motion for
Default, dated Dec. 20, 2018, ECF No. 20.
December 21, 2018, the Court found both of Defendants'
motions regarding the bond moot. See Orders, dated
Dec. 21, 2018, ECF Nos. 21-22.
January 16, 2019, Defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint
under Rules 12(b)(1), 12(b)(2), 12(b)(5), and 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, asserting eight grounds for
dismissal. See Mot.
January 17, 2019, Defendants moved to stay discovery pending
resolution of the motion to dismiss. Motion to Stay
Discovery, dated Jan. 17, 2019, ECF No. 25.
January 30, 2019, the Court granted the motion and stayed
discovery until May 1, 2019. Order, dated Jan. 30, 2019, ECF
February 7, 2019, Ms. Hampton moved, with Defendants'
consent, for an extension of time to respond to the motion to
dismiss. Consent Motion for Extension of Time, dated Feb. 7,
2019, ECF No. 27.
February 8, 2019, the Court granted Ms. Hampton's motion
and extended her time to respond to the motion to dismiss to
March 11, 2019. Order, dated Feb. 8, 2019, ECF No. 28.
March 13, 2019, Ms. Hampton moved, with Defendants'
consent, for a second extension of time to respond to the
motion to dismiss. Consent Motion for ...