The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. CURTIS JOYNER
This matter before the Court concerns defendant's motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In response, plaintiff has filed a motion to amend the complaint pursuant to Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, we will grant defendant's motion and deny plaintiff's motion.
A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is the appropriate method in which to challenge the legal sufficiency of a claim. See United States v. Marisol, Inc., 725 F. Supp. 833 (M.D. Pa. 1989). In ruling upon a 12(b)(6) motion, the court primarily considers the allegations in the complaint, although matters of public record, orders, items appearing in the record of the case and exhibits attached to the complaint may also be taken into account. Chester County Intermediate Unit v. Pennsylvania Blue Shield, 896 F.2d 808, 812 (3rd Cir. 1990). In so reviewing the pleadings and any materials of record, the court must accept as true all of the matters pleaded and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, construing them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Markowitz v. Northeast Land Co., 906 F.2d 100, 103 (3rd Cir. 1990); Hough/Lowe Assoc., Inc. v. CLX Realty Co., 760 F. Supp. 1141, 1142 (E.D. Pa. 1991). A complaint is properly dismissed if it appears certain that the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S. Ct. 99, 101-102, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80 (1957); Ransom v. Marrazzo, 848 F.2d 398, 401 (3rd Cir. 1988).
Additionally, Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a party may amend its pleading by leave of court and that "leave shall be freely given when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a) (1993). It is within the discretion of the trial court to grant or deny a motion to amend. Coventry v. U.S. Steel Corp., 856 F.2d 514, 519 (3rd Cir. 1988); Tarkett, Inc. v. Congoleum Corp., 144 F.R.D. 289, 290 (E.D. Pa. 1992). Courts in this Circuit generally grant such requests liberally, and deny them only where there has been undue delay, bad faith or where it would be prejudicial to the nonmoving party. Transport Workers, Local 234 v. Septa, 137 F.R.D. 220, 223 (E.D. Pa. 1991). Further, where the proposed amendment fails to state a cause of action or to raise meritorious claims, leave to amend should also be denied. Perfect Plastics Indus. v. Cars & Concepts 758 F. Supp. 1080, 1082 (W.D. Pa. 1991); Transport Workers, 137 F.R.D. at 223.
Plaintiff, a former employee at Haverford College, filed a five count complaint against defendant after defendant terminated plaintiff from his position as a carpenter foreman in December, 1992. The complaint states that plaintiff was allegedly terminated for "abuse of college time and materials and submitting false time sheets." Complaint, para. 8. According to the complaint, however, defendant had a long standing policy and practice of allowing maintenance department employees to use scrap materials belonging to defendant and allowing employees to perform construction and maintenance projects for their own personal benefit during "non-busy" work time. Id. at para. 9.
Plaintiff, a black male, has sued defendant alleging claims of racial discrimination in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e)-2 as amended, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S.C.A. § 951 et seq., the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, as well as claims of breach of contract and detrimental reliance. The pending motions concern counts four and five, plaintiff's claims for breach of contract and detrimental reliance. Defendant maintains that plaintiff has failed to set forth any claim upon which relief can be granted with respect to these two claims.
Plaintiff has sued defendant for breach of contract alleging that the "employee handbook and other written and unwritten policies, practices and procedures constituted a binding contract of employment" between the parties that "provided both a substantive right to continued employment...and governing the manner in which, discipline (including discharge) could be implemented." Complaint, para. 23. Plaintiff further asserts that defendant breached this contract by not following the procedures set forth in the handbook when it terminated plaintiff. Id. at para. 24. Defendant now asserts that plaintiff fails to state a claim because the employee handbook does not constitute an employment contract.
In response, plaintiff requests that he be allowed to amend paragraphs 23 and 24 of the complaint in order to state the following:
23. The employee handbook and other written and unwritten policies, practices and procedures, including A Guide For Supervisors: Effective Management and Employee Discipline constituted a binding contract...
24. Defendant terminated plaintiff without cause, in violation of its contractual obligation. Whether or not defendant had good cause to discipline and/or to discharge Mr. Raines, defendant failed to follow ...