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Rentz v. Carsia

January 24, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo


Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 5). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion will be granted. The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 28 U.S.C. § 1367.


Anthony Rentz was employed by Greater Hazleton Joint Sewer Authority ("Authority") for twenty-seven (27) years. (Doc. 1 ¶ 17.) Plaintiff's position, in the Maintenance Department of Defendant Authority, was covered by a collective bargaining agreement between Defendant Authority and the United Steelworkers of America, AFLCIO-CLC Union for Maintenance Employees for the period from May 15, 2001 up to May 14, 2006 ("Collective Bargaining Agreement"). (Doc. 1 ¶ 23.)

In June 2003, Defendant Authority created the position of Electromechanical Technician ("new position"). (Doc. 1 ¶ 23.) On June 30, 2003, the Authority notified all maintenance worker employees of the new position and opened the position to bidding within the bargaining unit. (Doc. 1, Ex. B.) According to Plaintiff, the new position created by Defendant Authority involved essentially the same duties as Plaintiff's position. (Doc. 1 ¶ 21.) The new position was filled by Ryan Peterko who had been employed by Defendant Authority for less than one year and was of a substantially younger age than Plaintiff. (Doc. 1 ¶ 22.)

Then, on September 22, 2003, by correspondence to Joseph Possa, Sub-District Director of the United Steelworkers of America, Christopher Carsia indicated that the number of employees within the Maintenance Department of Defendant Authority would be reduced by one (1) full time employee. (Doc. 1 ¶ 19.) Subsequently, Plaintiff was terminated from his position with Defendant Authority on September 22, 2003. (Doc. 1 ¶ 26.) According to the Complaint, Plaintiff's position of employment was already approved and included in Defendant Authority's budget for the year of 2003. (Doc. 1 ¶ 18.)

Plaintiff also asserts that, contrary to the express terms and conditions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Defendant Authority failed to provide him with two hundred and seventy (270) calendar days in order to train or become licensed for the new position. (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 24-25.) Furthermore, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants conspired to terminate Plaintiff from his position by crafting certain specifications and requirements for the new position, with the intent and design to preclude Plaintiff from filling for that position. (Doc. 1 ¶ 28.) Plaintiff further contends that Defendants prohibited him from obtaining the new position out of "personal animosity and disdain for Plaintiff . . .," and "solely by reason of Plaintiff's affiliation and association, which were contrary to that of Defendants." (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 29-30.) Namely, Plaintiff asserts that Defendants' alleged actions were taken in order to hire Ryan Peterko, who was an "affiliate" of Leland Radley, Plaintiff's supervisor. In the alternative, Plaintiff asserts that the real reason for his termination had to do with his age. (Doc. 1 ¶ 40-41.)

In 2004, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. On May 26, 2005, Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this Court alleging: violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 through the infringement of his rights under the First Amendment, age discrimination in violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), and breach of contract. (Doc. 1.) Defendants filed the present Motion to Dismiss on July 18, 2005. (Doc. 5.) The motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.


Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Dismissal is appropriate only if, accepting all factual allegations in the complaint as true and "drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor, no relief could be granted under any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint." Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc. v. Mirage Resorts Inc., 140 F.3d 478, 483 (3d Cir. 1998).

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court should consider the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint and matters of public record. See Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). The Court may also consider "undisputedly authentic" documents where the plaintiff's claims are based on the documents and the defendant has attached a copy of the document to the motion to dismiss. Id. The Court need not assume that the plaintiff can prove facts that were not alleged in the complaint, see City of Pittsburgh v. West Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256, 263 (3d Cir. 1998), nor credit a complaint's "bald assertions" or "legal conclusions." Morse v. Lower Marion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997).

When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court's role is limited to determining whether the plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence in support of the claims. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). The Court does not consider whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail. See id. In order to survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must set forth information from which each element of a claim may be inferred. See Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993). The defendant bears the burden of establishing that the plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Gould Elecs. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 178 (3d Cir. 2000).


1. Section 1983 and First ...

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