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Jones v. City of Cleveland

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

June 25, 2018

GERALD N. JONES, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF CLEVELAND, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DONALD C. NUGENT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Pro Se Plaintiff Gerald N. Jones, Sr. ("Mr. Jones" or "Plaintiff') filed this action against Defendant City of Cleveland ("the City") in connection with his employment at the Cleveland Police Department ("the Department"). Mr. Jones was hired as a Data Conversion Operator on January 22, 2013, and worked at the Department. Plaintiff was terminated on April 26, 2016 (Docket #1-4 at 6), for the allegedly false reason that he may have been armed and was trying to arrest officers (Docket #1 at 6).

         The Complaint describes various interactions and incidents with supervisors and other Department employees that Mr. Jones alleges constitute race, color, and sex discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (29 U.S.C. §§ 2OOOe to 2OOOe-17) ("Title VII"), and disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12112 to 12117) ("ADA"). For his state law claims, Plaintiff alleges violations of Ohio Rev. Code §§ 4117.10(A)(1)(a) and 4117.11(A)(1), (A)(5). (See Id. at 3, 5.) Mr. Jones also claims "Simple Assault; Aggravated Menacing with an Improvised Weapon; [and] Intimidation" (id. at 4).

         The alleged discrimination took the form of unequal terms and conditions of employment, termination, and retaliation (id. at 4). Mr. Jones seeks $700, 000.00 in damages for loss of his civil service career, $12, 000.00 in reimbursement for funds he was required to draw upon from his pension for living expenses after he was terminated, and $1.00 for being humiliated, terrorized, treated like an "adversary," and falsely accused of "having a firearm" and "attempting to arrest officers" (id. at 7).

         Mr. Jones filed a Motion to proceed with this action in forma pauperis (Docket #2); that Motion is granted.

         II. Standard of Review

         Although pro se pleadings are liberally construed, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982), federal district courts are expressly required under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) to screen all in forma pauperis actions and to dismiss before service any such action that the Court determines is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. In order to survive scrutiny under § 1915(e)(2)(B), a pro se complaint must set forth sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state claim to relief that is plausible on its face. See Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 471 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding that the dismissal standard articulated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) governs dismissals under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)). The factual allegations in the pleading "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level... on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true[.]" Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted).

         Although the plausibility standard is not equivalent to a "'probability requirement, '... it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not 'show[n]'-that the pleader is entitled to relief." Id. at 679.

         The Complaint refers to, and attaches, documents related to two charges of discrimination that Mr. Jones filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission ("OCRC"). (See Docket #1 at 6; Docket #1-4). "A copy of a written instrument that is an exhibit to a pleading is part of the pleading for all purposes." Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c). The Court will, therefore, consider those documents when assessing the sufficiency of Mr. Jones' claims. Campbell v. Nationstar Mortg., 611 Fed.Appx. 288, 292 (6th Cir. 2015) ("The federal rules treat [exhibits attached to the complaint] as part of the pleadings.").

         III. Discussion

         A. Title VII Claims

         1. Allegations

         Mr. Jones claims that "[f]or a time, my job was wonderful." (Docket #1 at 6.) He alleges that "[m]y problems began when I stood my ground and asked police personnel - and their relatives to not hit me; grab me; call me names (Geraldine); or intimidate me. I was perceived as a 'rat' - and so, police personnel took it upon themselves to try to get rid of me in order to 'make the department better.'" (Id.) The allegations in the Complaint and first OCRC charge state that he was "terrorized" by police officers who erroneously perceived that Plaintiff was "some type of ...


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