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Daniel v. City of Harrisburg

March 6, 2006

MIRIAM DANIEL, PLAINTIFF
v.
CITY OF HARRISBURG, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Kane

MEMORANDUM

Pending before the Court is Defendant City of Harrisburg's ("Harrisburg" or "City") motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. No. 5.) Defendant has filed a timely brief in opposition, and Harrisburg has filed a brief in reply in which the city narrows its argument in favor of dismissal. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's claims against the City will be dismissed without prejudice.

I. Background*fn1

In November 2003, Plaintiff was hired as a consultant by the National Civil War Museum ("Museum"). (Compl. ¶ 15.) During her interview for this position, Plaintiff disclosed that she suffered from a seizure disorder. (Id. ¶ 16.) Shortly after being hired by the Museum, Plaintiff was promoted to the position of Sales and Marketing Manager. (Id. ¶ 17.)

In February 2004, Plaintiff suffered a seizure while at work, causing her to sustain injuries and aggravate her seizure disorder, which resulted in her suffering uncontrollable seizures. (Id. ¶¶ 19, 20.) Plaintiff took an approved leave of absence from her employment from the date of her injury until April 19, 2004 in order to recuperate. (Id. ¶ 21.) Upon her return to work on April 19, 2004, Plaintiff suffered another seizure and was hospitalized until May 6, 2004. (Id. ¶¶ 22-23.)

On June 23, 2004, Plaintiff was cleared to return to work effective July 19, 2004. (Id. ¶ 24.) On June 15, 2004, the Museum notified Plaintiff that her employment was being terminated because the Museum's insurance carrier would not cover Plaintiff under the Museum's automobile insurance policy. (Id. ¶ 25.)

Plaintiff alleges that the Museum is an agency of the City. (Id. ¶ 5.) In support of this claim, Plaintiff avers that the City owns the land and premises from which the Museum operates and owns and insures all artifacts and other pieces displayed at the Museum. (Id. ¶¶ 6-7.) Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that the City pays all payroll costs incurred by the Museum, as well as the medical insurance premiums for all Museum personnel. (Id. ¶¶ 8-9.) Plaintiff also contends that all Museum personnel are covered under the City's pension plan, and that the City pays the Museum's contribution to the pension plan. (Id. ¶¶ 11-12.) Finally, Plaintiff contends that the City administers and finances various operations and functions of the Museum, and that the Museum "operates under the direction of the City" through a Board of Directors on which the City's mayor holds a seat. (Id. ¶¶ 13-15.)

In this action, Plaintiff alleges that her employment with the Museum was unlawfully terminated in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. ("ADA"), and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 951 et seq. ("PHRA").

II. Standard of Review

In examining motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court accepts all of the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true. Nesbit v. Gears Unlimited, Inc., 347 F.3d 72, 77 (3d Cir. 2003). Dismissal under 12(b)(6) can be granted only if the plaintiff cannot obtain relief under any set of facts. Leamer v. Fauver, 288 F.3d 532, 547 (3d Cir. 2002).

III. Discussion

On November 23, 2005, the City moved to dismiss the Complaint, contending that the City was not Plaintiff's employer, and therefore could not be held liable for any of Plaintiff's claims. Additionally, the City argued that Plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies mandated under Title VII and the ADA, but has since conceded this argument for purposes of the pending motion because Plaintiff has demonstrated that she filed a timely claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and was issued a right-to-sue letter.

Harrisburg asserts that Plaintiff has mistakenly sued the City, incorrectly believing that the Museum is an agency of the City. Defendant notes that the Museum is a domestic nonprofit corporation incorporated under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Accordingly, Harrisburg asserts that the Museum "as a corporation able to be sued, and not the City of Harrisburg, employed the Plaintiff." (Doc. No. 8 at 5.) Additionally, Harrisburg anticipates that Plaintiff has sued the City under the theory that Harrisburg should be considered Plaintiff's co-employer. Harrisburg contends that this theory is inapplicable to this case because Plaintiff has failed to allege that Harrisburg exercised sufficient control over her day-to-day employment to be considered a co-employer.

In response, Plaintiff argues that the mere fact that the Museum is incorporated in not dispositive of whether the City maintains operational or financial control over the Museum, and maintains that the question of whether an ...


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