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Watkins v. Rite Aid Corp.

July 25, 2006

FRANKLIN WATKINS, PLAINTIFF
v.
RITE AID CORP., ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Jones

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:

Pending before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss ("the Motion") (doc. 10) filed by Defendants Rite Aid Corporation ("Rite Aid"), Shari Rice, and Matthew Schroeder (collectively "Rite Aid Defendants") on May 22, 2006. For the reasons that follow, the Motion will be granted.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND/PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On February 9, 2006, Plaintiff Franklin Watkins ("Plaintiff" or "Watkins") filed a four count complaint against the Rite Aid Defendants in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. (Rec. Doc. 1). The complaint alleges the following claims against the following Defendants: Count I (Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") claim against Rite Aid); Count II (Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA") claim against all Rite Aid Defendants); Count III (Civil Conspiracy claim against individual Defendants Rice and Schroeder); and Count IV (Negligent Supervision claim against Rite Aid). In the complaint, Watkins alleges that Rite Aid harassed and discharged him on account of his age in violation of the ADEA and the PHRA, that Defendants Rice and Schroeder conspired to fire him on account of his age, and that Rite Aid negligently supervised its employees, which resulted in alleged illegal age discrimination.

Taking Plaintiff's allegations in the complaint as true, as we must at this juncture, we note that he was born on September 7, 1944. (Comp. ¶ 16). Rite Aid employed Watkins as a manager for sixteen years and he styles himself as "an exemplary worker with exceptional knowledge and technical expertise." Id. at ¶ 19. When discharged, Watkins was employed in the General Accounting Department as Rite Aid's Senior Director of Accounting. Id. at ¶¶ 12, 18. In July of 2002, Rice became Watkins' direct supervisor and Rice reported directly to, and was supervised by, Schroeder, a Rite Aid Vice-President. Id. at ¶¶ 13, 20, 21.

Watkins alleges that Rice and Schroeder treated him differently because of his age by among other things, making "disparaging age-related comments and remarks." Id. at ¶ 23. Despite his alleged exemplary preformance record, Watkins claims that the Rite Aid Defendants "engaged in a mean-spirited and intentional crusade to ruin [Watkins'] reputation and performance record." Id. at ¶ 26. This alleged crusade included false accusations of performance deficiencies, threats of job termination and denial of promotions, all because of Watkins' age. Id. at ¶¶ 24, 26-27.

In August of 2004, Watkins complained that "he received disparate treatment and discrimination." Id. at ¶ 28. Watkins does not state to whom he complained; however, he alleges that Defendants failed to act to remedy and curtail the harassment, hostility, and disparate treatment. Id. at ¶ 29. On January 19, 2005, Schroeder terminated Watkins' employment and Schroeder told Watkins that his job was being eliminated. Id. at ¶ 31. Watkins alleges, however, that he was the only employee who was "down-sized," he was sixty years of age at the time, and that his job duties, rather than being eliminated, were performed by "Junior" employees. Id. at ¶¶ 31-33. Watkins maintains that he exhausted his administrative remedies before filing the above-captioned age discrimination action. Id. at ¶ 37.

On May 22, 2006, the Rite Aid Defendants filed the instant Motion, which has been briefed by the parties. The Motion is therefore ripe for disposition.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

In considering a motion to dismiss, a court must accept the veracity of a plaintiff's allegations. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); see also White v. Napoleon, 897 F.2d 103, 106 (3d Cir. 1990). In Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996), our Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit added that in considering a motion to dismiss based on a failure to state a claim argument, a court should "not inquire whether the plaintiffs will ultimately prevail, only whether they are entitled to offer evidence to support their claims." Furthermore, "a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957); see also District Council 47 v. Bradley, 795 F.2d 310 (3d Cir. 1986).

DISCUSSION

A. Whether the Court Should Strike Plaintiff's Demand for ADEA Compensatory Damages Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f)

In the Motion, the Rite Aid Defendants first argue that this Court should strike Watkins' demand for compensatory damages under the ...


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