United States District Court, S.D. Ohio
CORY A. REEVES, PLAINTIFF,
SHAWNEE STATE UNIVERSITY, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS
J. DLOTT United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on the Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings (Doc. 11) filed by Defendants Shawnee State
University (“SSU”), Dr. Crystal Sherman, and Dr.
Leeann Denning (collectively, “the Shawnee State
Defendants”). Plaintiff Cory Reeves filed this suit
alleging racial discrimination after he was dismissed from
the nursing program at SSU. The Shawnee State Defendants
argue that Reeves fails to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted and that the Court lacks jurisdiction as to
certain claims. For the reasons that follow, the Court will
GRANT IN PART AND DENY IN PART the Motion.
well-pleaded allegations of fact in the Complaint (Doc. 1)
must be taken as true for purposes of the Motion.
a black person, was a nursing student who paid tuition to and
attended SSU from 2010 until April 27, 2016, the date he was
dismissed from the nursing program. (Id. at PageID
He alleges that he was the only black person in his class.
(Id. at PageID 4-5.)
a state university which offers bachelor, associate, and
nursing degrees and which accepts federal funds. Dr. Sherman,
a white person, is the Faculty Coordinator at SSU. Dr.
Denning, a white person, is the Chair of the Department of
Nursing at SSU. (Id. at PageID 5.) Defendants
Frankie Saunders and Josie Wright, both white persons, are
nurses for Defendant Southern Ohio Medical Center (“the
Medical Center”) and preceptors for SSU's
Department of Nursing. (Id. at PageID 5-6.)
alleges that Defendants subjected him to intentional racial
discrimination in the following instances: (1) he was scolded
and mocked by a professor during class in the presence of
other students in April 2015; (2) he was ignored when he
raised his hand or asked a question in class, but the
questions of white students were answered; (3) he was not
permitted to make up required clinical sessions, but white
students were permitted to do so, and SSU policy authorizes
make-up opportunities; (4) he was delayed or denied access to
exams, but white students were permitted access; (5) he was
denied supportive transitional instruction given regularly to
white students; and (6) he was placed in unfair test
environments, while white students took their tests in quiet
environments. (Id. at PageID 7-8.)
also alleges that he was subjected to discriminatory terms
and conditions in his precepted clinical experience, to which
white students were not subjected and in violation of
SSU's preceptor policy, in the following instances: (1)
Dr. Sherman assigned him a preceptor, Nurse Wright, who was
going on vacation and training a new hire, such that he could
not perform his required hours; (2) Dr. Sherman then assigned
him a new preceptor, Nurse Saunders, after a two-week period
where he had no preceptor, but Nurse Saunders told him that
receiving the assignment was “throwing her under the
bus;” (3) he was required to work at the Medical Center
for 36 hours per week after Dr. Sherman told him the
appropriate number of hours was 24 per week; (4) he was not
permitted to do the work expected of a nursing student and
that white students were permitted to perform; (5) he was
told by Nurse Saunders to sit and study during his precept
hours instead of being permitted to perform work normally
performed by nursing students; (6) he was accused by Nurse
Saunders of making mistakes he did not make; and (7) he was
made to look incompetent by Nurse Saunders. (Id. at
was dismissed from the nursing program at SSU on or about
April 28, 2016, before completion of the precepted experience
and one week prior to his expected graduation. (Id.
at PageID 11.) He alleges he was dismissed based on false
reports of poor performance by “defendants
[sic] agents, ” including Nurse Saunders and
Nurse Wright. He further alleges that white nursing students
were treated more favorably, including by being re-trained
and permitted to repeat areas in which performance was below
standard. (Id.) He alleges that he complained about
the illegal and inappropriate conduct to University
officials, including to Dr. Denning and Dr. Sherman, but that
no action was taken to address his complaints. (Id.
at PageID 12.) He alleges that Dr. Sherman, Dr. Denning, and
SSU upheld his dismissal despite knowing it was unwarranted.
initiated this action against the Shawnee State Defendants,
the Medical Center, Nurse Saunders, and Nurse Wright on July
21, 2016. He asserts five broadly-worded claims:
(1) Denial of equal protection against all Defendants;
(2) Race discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981
against all Defendants;
(3) Race discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against SSU, the Medical Center, and Dr. Sherman;
(4) Discrimination by recipient of federal funds in violation
of 42 U.S.C. § 2000d against SSU;
(5) Discrimination in violation of Ohio Revised Code Chapter
4112 against all Defendants; and
(6) Intentional infliction of emotional distress against all
at PageID 7-16.) He asserts the claims against Dr. Sherman,
Dr. Denning, Nurse Saunders, and Nurse Wright in both their
official and individual capacities. (Id. at 5-6.)
Reeves seeks to recover compensatory damages, punitive
damages, “injunctive relief in the form of
reinstatement to the nursing program, completion of his
course and graduation[, ]” and attorney fees.
(Id. at PageID 16-17.)
Shawnee State Defendants filed an Answer denying liability on
September 19, 2016. (Doc. 4.) The Medical Center, Nurse
Sherman, and Nurse Wright filed their Joint Answer denying
liability the next day. (Doc. 6.)
Shawnee State Defendants filed the pending Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings on October 27, 2016. Reeves
requests in his Memorandum in Opposition that he be given the
opportunity to amend the Complaint in lieu of dismissal if
the Court finds that he inadequately pleaded his claims.
However, Reeves has not filed a separate motion for leave to
file an amended complaint nor has he submitted a proposed
amended complaint for the Court's consideration.
STANDARD FOR MOTIONS FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS
12(c) permits a party to move for judgment on the pleadings.
The legal standard for adjudicating a Rule 12(c) motion is
the same as that for adjudicating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.
Lindsay v. Yates, 498 F.3d 434, 437 n.5 (6th Cir.
2007). Rule 12(b)(6) permits a party to move for dismissal
for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a district court
“must read all well-pleaded allegations of the
complaint as true.” Weiner v. Klais and Co.,
Inc., 108 F.3d 86, 88 (6th Cir. 1997). However, this
tenet is inapplicable to legal conclusions and legal
conclusions couched as factual allegations. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
withstand a dismissal motion, the complaint “does not
need detailed factual allegations, ” but it must
contain “more than labels and conclusions [or] a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007). “Factual allegations must be
enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Id. The Court does not require
“heightened fact pleading of specifics, but only enough
facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its
face.” Id. at 570. “A claim has facial
plausibility when the ...