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Barneman v. International Longshoreman Association

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia

August 1, 2018




         This Matter comes before the Court on the renewed Motion to Dismiss of Defendants APS Stevedoring, LLC ("APS"), Atlantic Ro-Ro Stevedoring, LLC ("Atlantic Ro-Ro"), Georgia Stevedoring Association ("GSA"), and Marine Terminal Corporation-East ("Marine Terminal"). Dkt. Nos. 17, 54. For the following reasons, this Motion is DENIED.


         Plaintiff filed a pro se complaint in this Court on May 3, 2017 against International Longshoreman Association Local 1423 ("ILA"). He retained counsel and amended his complaint on May 22, 2017, adding the other Defendants. Because his EEOC charges had only named ILA and GSA as Defendants, the remaining Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing, among other things, that Plaintiff had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with regard to them. Dkt. No. 17. On February 1, 2018, this Court gave the parties 14 days to submit additional briefing on that question. Dkt. No. 53. They have now done so. Dkt. Nos. 53, 54, 55. The Court also ordered that Plaintiff serve GSA, Marine Terminals, Atlantic Ro-Ro, and APS or risk dismissal. Dkt. No. 53.


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a plaintiff's complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). In order to state a claim for relief, a plaintiff's complaint must include "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The Court accepts the allegations in the complaint as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Ray v. Spirit Airlines, Inc., 836 F.3d 1340, 1347 (11th Cir. 2016). However, the Court does not accept as true threadbare recitations of the elements of the claim and disregards legal conclusions unsupported by factual allegations. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79. At a minimum, a complaint should "contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory." Fin. Sec. Assurance, Inc. v. Stephens, Inc., 500 F.3d 1276, 1282-83 (11th Cir. 2007) (per curiam) (quoting Roe v. Aware Woman Ctr. for Choice, Inc., 253 F.3d 678, 683 (11th Cir. 2001)).

         "A document filed pro se isAto be liberally construed, [and] a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(f) ("All pleadings shall be so construed as to do substantial justice.").

         Exhaustion of administrative remedies is a matter that should be raised in a motion to dismiss. Basel v. Sec'y of Def., 507 Fed.Appx. 873, 874 (11th Cir. 2013) (per curiam). "[I]t is permissible for a district court to consider facts outside of the pleadings and resolve factual disputes so long as the factual disputes do not decide the merits and the parties are given sufficient opportunity to develop a record." Id. at 874-75.


         This order addresses the limited issue of whether Plaintiff exhausted his administrative remedies against GSA, Marine Terminals, Atlantic Ro-Ro, and APS by filing an EEOC charge (thereby satisfactorily exhausting his administrative remedies) against ILA.[1] To answer this question, this Court previously ordered the parties to clarify their positions on the following factors: (1) the similarity of the interest between the named party and the unnamed party; (2) whether the plaintiff could have ascertained the identity of the unnamed party at the time the EEOC charge was filed; (3) whether the unnamed parties received adequate notice of the charges; (4) whether the unnamed parties have an adequate opportunity to participate in the reconciliation process; and (5) whether the unnamed parties suffered actual prejudice by its exclusion from the EEOC proceedings. Dkt. No. 53 (citing DiGiro v. Pall Corp., 993 F.Supp. 1474, 1474 (M, D. Fla. 1998)).

         Accordingly, the parties provided some additional information.

         Similarity of interests. The record shows that the port employers-Marine Terminals, Atlantic Ro-Ro, and APS-are board members for GSA and that GSA acts for the signatory parties. Dkt. No. 54-1. Plaintiff asserts that GSA protected the interests of those port employers during the grievance process and that the grievance process in which the port employers did participate involved the same issues as those of the EEOC charge filed against GSA. Dkt. No. 17.

         Plaintiff's ability to ascertain identities. The record shows that Plaintiff sent letters addressed to each of the port employers, demonstrating his knowledge of their identity. Dkt. No. 5. It also shows that each had its own representative at his grievance hearing and that his paychecks indicated which entity employed him. Dkt. No. 24.

         Notice to unnamed parties. The record shows that the port employers had actual notice of Barneman's EEOC charge against GSA which resulted in the present ...

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