United States District Court, D. Maine
CHRISTOPHER O. BRANDT, Plaintiff,
JOSEPH FITZPATRICK, in his official capacity as COMMISSIONER, MAINE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, SCOTT LANDRY, and LISA NASH, Defendants.
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND
AND DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS
Torresen United States Chief District Judge
me are the Defendants' motions to dismiss pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (ECF Nos. 9, 10) and
the Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend his Complaint
pursuant to Rule 15(a). (ECF No. 15). For the reasons stated
below, the Defendants' motions to dismiss are GRANTED IN
PART and DENIED IN PART and the Plaintiff's motion for
leave to amend is GRANTED.
Proposed Amended Complaint (“PAC”) (ECF No. 15-1)
alleges the following facts which are accepted as true for
purposes of this motion. Plaintiff Christopher Brandt is an
African-American veteran who was employed by the Maine
Department of Corrections (“MDOC”) as a
correctional officer for approximately two years. PAC
¶¶ 4, 7. Brandt applied for seven open positions in
the probation department and “was referred by
MDOC's Human Resources for an interview each time.”
PAC ¶¶ 8, 10. Each job announcement encouraged
minorities, preference eligible veterans, and other MDOC
employees to apply. PAC ¶ 9. Defendant Scott Landry
supervised Brandt's interviews in Augusta, and Defendant
Lisa Nash was in charge of Brandt's interviews in
Portland. PAC ¶ 10.
interviews did not go well. Landry interviewed Brandt twice;
both ended shortly after they began with Brandt being
“escorted out of the office without any
explanation.” PAC ¶ 11. Nash interviewed Brandt
multiple times. PAC ¶¶ 10-11. During one interview,
Nash “was extremely offensive and argued with [Brandt]
when he began sharing his background and
qualifications.” PAC ¶ 13. Although he has a
master's degree, Brandt later received letters explaining
that “he did not meet the minimum
qualifications.” PAC ¶ 10; MHRC Invest. Report 2
(ECF No. 1-1).
and Nash are both white. PAC ¶ 10. At each interview,
the other applicants waiting to be interviewed in the waiting
area were all younger white men and women. PAC ¶ 14.
Brandt was the only African-American around the age of 40
waiting to be interviewed. PAC ¶ 14. Younger white
applicants who were not current MDOC employees were
eventually hired for the positions. PAC ¶ 1. Other
African-American MDOC employees told Brandt that they were
made to feel inferior and unqualified because of their race
when they interviewed with Landry and Nash. PAC ¶ 15.
One African-American MDOC officer informed Brandt “that
he had personally interviewed with Scott Landry and Lisa Nash
ten times and was never offered a position.” PAC ¶
15. Another co-worker told Brandt that the MDOC “sought
to hire younger employees and recent college graduates
because they would be more likely to stay on the job
longer.” MHRC Invest. Report 2.
of his treatment at these interviews, Brandt wrote a letter
to former-MDOC Commissioner Joseph Ponte. PAC ¶ 12. The
letter specifically mentioned Landry. PAC ¶ 12. Ponte
informed Brandt that he would look into the matter. PAC
¶ 12. Brandt also filed a complaint against the MDOC
with the Maine Human Rights Commission (“MHRC”).
PAC ¶ 12.
on, Landry became the Warden of the Maine Correctional
Center. PAC ¶ 16. “Fearing further hostility,
[Brandt] resigned from his position at the Maine Correctional
Center to pursue a position with the Federal Bureau of
Prisons.” PAC ¶ 16. But two weeks after his
resignation, Brandt reapplied for several positions at the
Maine Correctional Center. PAC ¶ 16. He subsequently
received a letter from Landry stating that “you will
not be considered further for the correctional officer
position because you lied on your employment
application.” PAC ¶ 16. Brandt claims that he did
not lie on his employment application. See PAC
¶ 18. He also later learned that he was the only
applicant who was subjected to a background investigation for
that job. PAC ¶ 17.
November 16, 2015, Brandt filed a four-count federal
Complaint. Compl. (ECF No. 1). The named Defendants are
Landry, Nash, and MDOC Commissioner Joseph
Fitzpatrick. Compl. ¶¶ 5-6. In Count One,
Brandt alleges racial discrimination in violation of Title
VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Compl.
¶¶ 21-22. Count Two alleges age discrimination in
violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
(“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 623. Compl.
¶¶ 23-24. Count Three alleges retaliation claims
under Title VII and the ADEA. Compl. ¶¶ 25-26. And
in Count Four, Brandt alleges violations of the Veteran
Employment Opportunity Act (“VEOA”), 5 U.S.C.
3330a, et seq. Compl. ¶¶ 27-28. The
Complaint and the Plaintiff's briefing also reference
disability discrimination in violation of the Rehabilitation
Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq., and the Americans
with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §
12101 et seq. See Compl. ¶ 1.; Pl.'s
Opp'n to MDOC's Mot. to Dismiss 9 (ECF No. 17). The
Plaintiff does not make clear which counts pertain to which
Defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint. Nash's Mot. to
Dismiss (ECF No. 9); Me. Dept. Of Corrections &
Landry's Mot. to Dismiss (“MDOC's Mot. to
Dismiss”) (ECF No. 10). After filing oppositions to the
Defendants' motions to dismiss, Brandt moved for leave to
amend his Complaint. (ECF No. 15). The PAC added a Fifth
Count for “[r]acial discrimination in violation of 42
U.S.C. § 1983” against all of the Defendants. PAC
¶¶ 29-30. The remaining claims and factual
allegations in the PAC are identical to the allegations in the
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), a plaintiff seeking to
amend his complaint more than “21 days after service of
a motion under Rule 12(b)” must obtain the written
consent of the opposing party or leave of
court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). “The court
should freely give leave when justice so requires.”
leave to amend should not be granted if, inter alia,
the “amendment would be futile.”Steir v. Girl
Scouts of the USA, 383 F.3d 7, 12 (1st Cir. 2004)
(citation omitted). “ ‘Futility' means that
the complaint, as amended, would fail to state a claim upon
which relief could be granted.” Glassman v.
Computervision Corp., 90 F.3d 617, 623 (1st Cir. 1996).
“In assessing futility, the district court must apply
the standard which applies to motions to dismiss under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).” Morgan v. Town of
Lexington, 823 F.3d 737, 742 (1st Cir. 2016) (citation
order to survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the
“complaint ‘must contain sufficient factual
matter . . . to state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.' ” Saldivar v. Racine, 818 F.3d
14, 18 (1st Cir. 2016) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). The plausibility inquiry consists
of two steps:
First, the court must sift through the averments in the
complaint, separating conclusory legal allegations (which may
be disregarded) from allegations of fact (which must be
credited). Second, the court must consider whether the
winnowed residue of factual allegations gives rise to a
plausible claim to relief.
Rodríguez-Reyes v. Molina-Rodríguez,
711 F.3d 49, 53 (1st Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).
Ultimately, the court “must ‘determine whether
the factual allegations are sufficient to support ‘the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable.'
” Cardigan Mountain Sch. v. N.H. Ins. Co., 787
F.3d 82, 84 (1st Cir. 2015) (quoting
García-Catalán v. United States, 734
F.3d 100, 103 (1st Cir. 2013)).
is proceeding pro se, which weighs “in favor of a
liberal reading” of his Complaint. Rodi v. S. New
England Sch. Of Law, 389 F.3d 5, 13 (1st Cir. 2004).
Accordingly, I interpret his pleadings in light of his
supplemental submissions in order “to understand the
nature and basis of his claims against these
defendants.” Wall v. Dion, 257 F.Supp.2d 316,
318 (D. Me. 2003).
and Landry contend that the claims in the PAC are futile and
must be dismissed because they fail to state plausible claims
for relief. The MDOC does not oppose Counts One and Three of
the PAC, but contends that the remaining claims fail.
Title VII, ADEA & Disability Discrimination-Counts One to