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Tate v. Gus Genetti's Hotel and Restaurant

October 18, 2006

JENNIFER TATE AND JOHN TATE, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
GUS GENETTI'S HOTEL AND RESTAURANT, INC., D/B/A BEST WESTERN GENETTI LODGE AND BALLROOMS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Counts III and IV (Doc. 5-1) of the Plaintiffs' Complaint (Doc. 1-1) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant this motion. The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331*fn1 ("federal question jurisdiction") and 28 U.S.C. § 1343(a) (original jurisdiction lies in the district courts based on deprivation under color of State law of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the U.S. Constitution or federal law). This Court shall also exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' related state-law tort claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). Finally, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(g) grants this Court jurisdiction to issue various forms of equitable relief if unlawful employment practices are found to exist.

BACKGROUND

The following is alleged in the Complaint (Doc. 1-1): Plaintiff Jennifer Tate was employed as a Guest Service Representative at Defendant Best Western Genetti Lodge and Ballrooms (hereinafter referred to as "Genetti's") in Hazleton, Pennsylvania from March 27, 2004 until August 28, 2004. (Doc. 1-1 ¶¶ 8, 14, 15.) Plaintiff suffers from epilepsy. (Doc. 1-1 ¶ 16.) On August 15, 2004, Plaintiff began an approved two-week leave of absence to get married and to go away on her honeymoon. (Doc. 1-1 ¶ 17.) Upon her return, Plaintiff called Defendant for her upcoming work schedule and was told she was terminated from her employment. (Doc. 1-1 ¶ 18.) At all times relevant to this action, Defendant was aware of Plaintiff's disability. (Doc. 1-1 ¶ 20.) Plaintiff's disability in no way affects her ability to perform the essential functions of the position she held with Defendant. (Doc. 1-1 ¶ 31.) As a result of her firing Plaintiff has suffered damages, including but not limited to loss of past and future income and fringe benefits, loss of professional reputation, mental anxiety, and emotional distress. (Doc. 1-1 ¶ 33.) Additionally, and as a result of Defendant's actions, Plaintiff John Tate, Jennifer's husband, has suffered loss of society, companionship, affection, services, income, and other incidents of the marital relationship. (Doc. 1-1 ¶ 49.)

On or about January 26, 2005, Plaintiff Jennifer Tate filed charges of discrimination with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("the EEOC"), charging discrimination and unfair employment practices against Defendant. On December 5, 2005, a Notice of Right to Sue was issued by the EEOC. (Doc. 1-1 p. 18.) On February 13, 2006, Plaintiffs filed their Complaint (Doc. 1-1) alleging four counts, as follow: (I) violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("the PHRA"), 43 P.S. § 951 et seq., (II) violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("the ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and the common law torts of (III) intentional infliction of emotional distress, and (IV) loss of consortium. On April 20, 2006, Defendant filed the present motion to dismiss (Doc. 5-1) Counts III and IV of Plaintiffs' Complaint, along with an accompanying brief (Doc. 5-2). On May 4, 2006, Plaintiffs filed an answer (Doc. 8) to Defendant's motion to dismiss, and a brief (Doc. 7-1) in opposition thereto. This motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.

LEGAL STANDARD

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).

DISCUSSION

A. Plaintiffs' Count III - Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff Jennifer Tate's cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant this motion.

"To make out a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, the plaintiff must show conduct 'so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be intolerable in a civilized community.' ... [I]t is the conduct which must be outrageous, not the reaction to that conduct, to create a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress." Thompson v. AT&T Corp, 371 F.Supp. 2d 661, 683 (W.D. Pa. 2005) (quoting Jacques v. AKZO Int'l Salt, Inc., 422 Pa.Super. 419, 619 A.2d 748, 754 (1993) (abrogated on other grounds as recognized in Kroptavich v. Pennsylvania Power and Light Co., 795 A.2d 1048, 1055 (Pa.Super. 2002)). "[I]t is for the court to determine, in the first instance, whether the ...


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