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Decisión del Circuito federal discrimen en Fortaleza Caso Ocasio

Decisión del Circuito federal discrimen en Fortaleza Caso Ocasio

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Published by: Oscar J. Serrano on Apr 04, 2011
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United States Court of Appeals
For the First Circuit
No. 09-2207CARMEN M. OCASIO-HERNÁNDEZ, et al.,Plaintiffs, Appellants,v.LUIS FORTUÑO-BURSET, et al.,Defendants, Appellees.APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTFOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO[Hon. Gustavo A. Gelpí, U.S. District Judge]BeforeTorruella, Lipez, and Thompson, Circuit Judges.Carlos A. Del Valle Cruz, with whom Landrón & Vera, EileenLandrón Guardiola and Eduardo Vera Ramírez were on brief, forappellants.Michael C. McCall, with whom Aldarondo & López Bras andEliezer Aldarondo-Ortiz were on brief, for appellees.April 1, 2011
Case: 09-2207 Document: 00116191226 Page: 1 Date Filed: 04/01/2011 Entry ID: 5538570
The record contains two different spellings of Berlingeri's
name. We adopt the spelling used in the defendants' brief.-2-
LIPEZ, Circuit Judge
. This case involves a claim ofpolitical discrimination stemming from the 2008 gubernatorialelection in Puerto Rico. Fourteen maintenance and domesticworkers, all members of Puerto Rico's Popular Democratic Party("PDP"), brought suit in federal district court alleging that theywere unconstitutionally terminated from their public employment atthe governor's mansion, La Fortaleza, shortly after the election ofGovernor Luis Fortuño-Burset ("Fortuño"), President of PuertoRico's New Progressive Party ("NPP"). The complaint named fourprincipal defendants, in both their individual and officialcapacities, as well as their spouses and conjugal partnerships:Governor Fortuño, the nominating authority at La Fortaleza; FirstLady Luce Vela ("Vela"), the chairperson of a committee for themaintenance, restoration, and preservation of La Fortaleza; Chiefof Staff Juan Carlos Blanco ("Blanco"); and Administrator VelmarieBerlingeri Marín ("Berlingeri"). The district court, applying the
federal notice pleading standard articulated by the Supreme Courtin Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), andAshcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937 (2009), dismissed the workers'complaint for failing to state a plausible claim for relief.After a careful review of the record and the teachings ofTwombly and Iqbal, we conclude that the district court applied the
Case: 09-2207 Document: 00116191226 Page: 2 Date Filed: 04/01/2011 Entry ID: 5538570
-3-notice pleading standard incorrectly. The allegations in thecomplaint do state a plausible claim of political discrimination inviolation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.We vacate the dismissal of that claim.
I.A. The Complaint
Because this appeal follows the allowance of a motion todismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), werecite the facts of the plaintiffs' claim as alleged in thecomplaint. See SEC v. Tambone, 597 F.3d 436, 438 (1st Cir. 2010)(en banc).Fortuño was elected Governor of the Commonwealth ofPuerto Rico on November 4, 2008, and he assumed that office onJanuary 2, 2009. As Governor, he is the nominating authority at LaFortaleza; he approves or disapproves of all personnel decisionsrelating to employment at the mansion. In early January 2009,Governor Fortuño named defendant Berlingeri Administrator at LaFortaleza, and he signed an executive order authorizing her toterminate employees there on his behalf. He also named defendantBlanco Chief of Staff. As the First Lady of Puerto Rico, defendantVela chairs the Conservation and Maintenance of La FortalezaCommittee and is responsible for overseeing the mansion; she haspublicly acknowledged her personal involvement in overseeingrepairs and refurbishing work at La Fortaleza.
Case: 09-2207 Document: 00116191226 Page: 3 Date Filed: 04/01/2011 Entry ID: 5538570

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