The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES KELLY, Senior District Judge
Presently before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss Defendant's
Counterclaims filed by Plaintiff Michael J. Gannon ("Gannon" or
"Plaintiff") seeking dismissal pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) of the counterclaims for conversion and unjust
enrichment filed by Defendant National Railroad Passenger
Corporation, t/a Amtrak ("Defendant" or "Amtrak").
Plaintiff initiated suit in this Court alleging that he was
unlawfully terminated from employment following his return from
active military service. Defendant answered Plaintiff's Complaint
and asserted counterclaims for conversion and unjust enrichment
contending that Plaintiff improperly received and retained Amtrak
wages during periods of military service in 1999, and that
Plaintiff's failure to repay those wages violated Amtrak's policy
prohibiting employees from "double-dipping" by simultaneously
receiving Amtrak and military wages.
For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss Counterclaims is DENIED.
Plaintiff was employed by Defendant as a Special Agent in its
Office of Inspector General from 1989 through August 31, 2001.
Plaintiff was also a Reservist in the United States Air Force
Reserve and, in 1999, volunteered for military duty in connection
with operations in Kosovo.
As a result of Plaintiff's alleged failure to submit a written
leave request along with copies of military orders to Amtrak in
May 1999, Plaintiff received and retained both his Amtrak salary
and his reserve military pay during the period of May 2, 1999
through December 17, 1999. Upon Plaintiff's return to work at
Amtrak in December 1999, he was advised of his violations of
Amtrak's leave policies and his obligation to repay the wages he
had improperly received during the period of military service. In
the months following his return to work, Plaintiff repeatedly
acknowledged his obligation to repay the wages he had received
from Amtrak during his military service. To date, Plaintiff has
not repaid the improperly received wages.
In deciding a motion to dismiss a counterclaim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court must accept all
wellpleaded facts, and any reasonable inferences derived
therefrom, as true, and view them in the light most favorable to
the nonmoving party. In re Sunrise Sec. Litig., 793 F. Supp. 1306,
1310 (E.D. Pa. 1992). A claim should not be dismissed for
failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond a doubt that
the non-moving party can prove no set of facts in support of its
allegations which would entitle it to relief. Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957).
Plaintiff contends that Defendant's counterclaim for conversion
is barred by the two-year statute of limitations, and should be
dismissed in its entirety. Plaintiff also contends that
Defendant's counterclaim for unjust enrichment, to the extent
that it seeks damages beyond the four-year statute of
limitations, should be dismissed. Each of Plaintiff's arguments
is addressed below.
An action for conversion must be commenced within two years of
the taking or injury. 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5524(3) (specifying
two-year statute of limitation for "actions for taking, detaining
or injuring personal property, including actions for specific recovery thereof."); Kingston Coal Co. v.
Felton Min. Co., Inc., 690 A.2d 284, 288 (Pa. Super. 1997).
Here, Defendant admits that the period of time during which
Plaintiff improperly received Amtrak salary at the same time that
he received his military pay was from May 2, 1999 through
December 17, 1999. It is also clear from the docket entries that
Defendant asserted its counterclaim for conversion on October 15,
2003, more than two years after the complained-of time period.
While Defendant's counterclaim for conversion was filed beyond
Pennsylvania's two-year statute of limitations, our analysis does
not stop here. Pennsylvania law recognizes that the
acknowledgment doctrine may serve to toll a statute of
limitations where there is an unequivocal acknowledgment of a
debt as an existing obligation: "A clear, distinct and
unequivocal acknowledgment of a debt as an existing obligation,
such as is consistent with a promise to pay, is sufficient to