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Reaves v. Medlin

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division

May 7, 2019

KATHY REAVES, Plaintiff,
v.
JASON MEDLIN; JEANICE BARRETT; RICHMOND COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM; FLETCHER, HARLEY & FLETCHER, LLP; RICHMOND COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendants.

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BRIAN K. EPPS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff commenced the above-captioned case pro se and is proceeding in forma pauperis (“IFP”). Because she is proceeding IFP, Plaintiff's complaint must be screened to protect potential Defendants. Phillips v. Mashburn, 746 F.2d 782, 785 (11th Cir. 1984). Pleadings drafted by pro se litigants must be liberally construed, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972), but the Court may dismiss a complaint, or any part thereof, that is frivolous or malicious or that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) & (ii).

         I. SCREENING OF THE COMPLAINT

         A. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff names as Defendants (1) Jason Medlin; (2) Jeanice Barrett; (3) Richmond County School System; (4) Fletcher, Harley & Fletcher, LLP; and (5) Richmond County Board of Education. (Doc. no. 1, p. 1.) Taking all of Plaintiff's factual allegations as true, as the Court must for purposes of the present screening, the facts are as follows.

         Plaintiff is a high school teacher at Richmond Academy, which is in the Richmond County School System. (Id. at 2.) Defendant Jason Medlin is the principal of Richmond Academy and Defendant Jeanice Barrett is the bookkeeper. (Id.) On February 11, 2019, Ms. Barrett sent Plaintiff an email regarding recent Certificates of Absences (“COAs”) submitted to payroll without Plaintiff's signature. (Id. at 3.) Ms. Barrett submitted the COAs, dated January 11, 2019, to payroll on February 6, 2019, but were not sent to Plaintiff to be signed until February 11, 2019. (Id.) Plaintiff requested the opportunity to inspect the documents prior to signing them. (Id.) Upon her review, she found multiple issues with the COAs, such as being backdated, being keyed in electronically before submission to Plaintiff, no signature, and the hours were not exact. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges Mr. Medlin and Ms. Barrett tried to conceal these discrepancies by telling Plaintiff the hours on the COAs were correct and there was no reason to question it. (Id.) Mr. Medlin also stated Ms. Barrett submitted the COAs to payroll without giving Plaintiff a chance to review them first. (Id.)

         On February 19, 2019, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Department of Labor, Wage and Hours Division, about the discrepancies in her pay and the falsified payroll documents. (Id.) Plaintiff then asked Mr. Medlin to return all her money to her account, and Mr. Medlin responded by ordering Plaintiff to sign the COAs. (Id.) Plaintiff said she would not sign them, and Mr. Medlin threatened Plaintiff with disciplinary action. (Id.) Mr. Medlin also threatened to take disciplinary action against Plaintiff for September 2018 COAs. On February 5, 2019, Mr. Medlin pulled Plaintiff out of teaching her class to discuss the January 2019 COAs and tried to force Plaintiff to sign a document written by Mr. Medlin stating she agreed with his actions. (Id.)

         Plaintiff told Mr. Medlin that Ms. Barrett's actions constituted fraud and theft by deception, and she threatened to file a complaint against the school system if the money was not in her account by February 29, 2019. (Id.) At some point, Plaintiff sent an email to Mr. Medlin with several unanswered questions concerning the discrepancies in the COAs. (Id.) Mr. Medlin refused to answer the questions and insisted Plaintiff sign the COAs. (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges Defendants Medlin and Barrett's actions constitute harassment that began in September 2018 when Plaintiff overheard Defendants Medlin and Barrett talking negatively about her and another teacher, who was pregnant at the time and no longer works at the school. (Id. at 4.) Up to the date of filing this case, no one has explained to Plaintiff why Ms. Barrett fraudulently backdated documents to payroll that docked her pay or why Ms. Barrett put February absences on January forms or January absences on November forms. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges Defendants Medlin and Richmond County School System's ongoing actions constitute workplace harassment, and Plaintiff has a problem with Ms. Barrett every day. (Id.) Plaintiff further alleges she is harassed every day by Defendants Medlin and Richmond County School System.

         Plaintiff seeks an injunction against Defendants Barrett, Medlin, and Richmond County School System for fraudulently submitting documents to payroll and deducting money out of her check without her knowledge. (Id.) Additionally, she seeks back pay, front pay, attorney's fees, punitive damages, and special damages in excess of two million dollars from each Defendant individually and in their professional capacity. (Id.)

         B. DISCUSSION

         1. Legal Standard for Screening

         The amended complaint or any portion thereof may be dismissed if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, of if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune to such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). A claim is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989). Moreover, “[f]ailure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard as dismissal for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).” Wilkerson v. H & S, Inc., 366 Fed.Appx. 49, 51 (11th Cir. 2010) (citing Mitchell v. Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir. 1997)).

         To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the allegations in the complaint must “state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. 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). That is, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. While Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not require detailed factual allegations, “it demands more than an unadorned, the defendant unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A complaint is insufficient if it “offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, '” or if it “tenders ‘naked assertions' devoid of ‘further factual ...


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