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Hajzus v. Peters Township School Dist.

March 23, 2007

DR. THOMAS HAJZUS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PETERS TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT, AND SUPERINTENDENT DIANE KIRK, INDIVIDUALLY; ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT JOHN HOOVER, INDIVIDUALLY; BOARD PRESIDENT/ MEMBER DENISE ABRAHAM, INDIVIDUALLY; BOARD VICE PRESIDENT / MEMBER SANDRA TEODORI, INDIVIDUALLY, BOARD VICE PRESIDENT/ MEMBER THOMAS MCMURRAY, INDIVIDUALLY; BOARD MEMBER JAMES O'KELLY, INDIVIDUALLY; BOARD MEMBER DIANE RITTER, INDIVIDUALLY; BOARD MEMBER DAVID HVIZDOS, ESQUIRE, INDIVIDUALLY; BOARD MEMBER SANDRA GREGG, INDIVIDUALLY; BOARD MEMBER ALLISON MCCLURE, INDIVIDUALLY; BOARD MEMBER KAREN SCHARF, INDIVIDUALLY; BOARD VICE PRESIDENT / MEMBER TERRY HART, INDIVIDUALLY; BOARD MEMBER ELAINE WEBB, INDIVIDUALLY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Terrence F. McVerry United States District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Presently before the Court for disposition are the PARTIAL MOTION TO DISMISS, with brief in support, filed by Defendants (Document Nos. 37 and 38), the BRIEF in opposition filed by Plaintiff (Document No. 40), and the REPLY TO PLAINTIFF'S BRIEF filed by Defendants (Document No. 45). For the reasons that follow, the Partial Motion to Dismiss will be granted in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

On November 8, 2002, Plaintiff, Dr. Thomas Hajzus, verified an Amended Complaint filed with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission ("PHRC"). The Amended Complaint named Peters Township School District as the sole respondent and contained four counts: (i) disability (forced to leave without pay); (ii) disability (failure to accommodate); (iii) demotion (disability); and (iv) retaliation (demotion.)

On August 11, 2003, Plaintiff verified a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Again, only Peters Township School District was named as the respondent. The EEOC Charge of Discrimination contained three claims: (i) disability discrimination; (ii) religious discrimination; and (iii) retaliation.

On March 20, 2004, Plaintiff filed an Amendment to his EEOC Charge of Discrimination, in which he amended his Charge to include Defendants Drs. Diane Kirk and John Hoover as respondents. He did not amend his claims of (i) disability discrimination; (ii) religious discrimination; and (iii) retaliation.

On October 19, 2006, Plaintiff filed a three-count Complaint in this Court against Peters Township School District; Superintendent Diane Kirk, individually; Assistant Superintendent John Hoover, individually; and eleven (11) current or former school board directors, individually. In Count I, Plaintiff alleges disability discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("the Rehabilitation Act"), the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"). In Count II, Plaintiff alleges retaliation, harassment, and aiding and abetting under the PHRA. In Count III, Plaintiff alleges retaliation under the Rehabilitation Act, the ADA, and the PHRA.

Defendants argue that (i) Plaintiff's claims against the individual defendants brought under the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA should be dismissed because there is no individual liability under either of these federal statutes; (ii) Plaintiff's claims against the individual defendants brought under the PHRA should be dismissed because none of the individually-named defendants were named as respondents in the Amended Complaint filed with the PHRC; and (iii) Plaintiff's claims for harassment under the PHRA should be dismissed because this claim was never presented to the PHRC. Plaintiff responds that the individually-named defendants have been expressly identified in his PHRC filings or, in the alternative, that these defendants each "share[] an identity of interest with the Board" and, therefore, any claims against them should not be dismissed.*fn1 Plaintiff also argues that his harassment claim was properly presented to the PHRC.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

When considering a motion to dismiss the court accepts as true all well pleaded allegations of fact. Pennsylvania Nurses Ass'n v. Pennsylvania State Educ. Ass'n, 90 F.3d 797, 799-800 (3d Cir. 1996), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 1110 (1997). In addition, the court construes all reasonable inferences from those allegations in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id. The complaint will be dismissed only if there is "no set of facts" which would entitled the plaintiff to relief. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957).

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require detailed pleading of the facts on which a claim is based, they simply require "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," enough to "give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2); see also Conley, 355 U.S. at 47.

Generally, "to the extent that [a] court considers evidence beyond the complaint in deciding a 12(b)(6) motion, it is converted to a motion for summary judgment." Anjelino v. New York Times Co., 200 F.3d 73, 88 (3d Cir.1999). However, in resolving a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court may look beyond the complaint to matters of public record, including court files and records, and documents referenced in the complaint or essential to a plaintiff's claim which are attached to a defendant's motion. Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir.1993). Under this standard, administrative filings, such as the record of the case before the EEOC or the PHRC, may be considered by the court without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. See Pension Ben. Guar. Corp., 998 F.2d at 1196-97; Arizmendi v. Lawson, 914 F. Supp. 1157, 1160-61 (E.D. Pa.1996).

Attached to the motion to dismiss filed by Defendants and to the Response filed by Plaintiff are copies of a number of documents from the files of the EEOC and the PHRC regarding the administrative complaints filed by Plaintiff. Because these documents are referenced in the Complaint and are essential to Plaintiff's claim, the Court has considered these documents without the necessity of converting ...


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