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Harding v. Ellwood Specialty Steel

May 17, 2007

WILLIAM J. HARDING, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
ELLWOOD SPECIALTY STEEL, LLC, AND ELLWOOD GROUP, INC., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Presently pending before the Court is the DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS and Brief in Support (Document No. 9), and the Response and Brief of Plaintiff in opposition (Document No. 14). For the reasons discussed below, the Motion will be granted in its entirety.

Background

As the law requires, all disputed facts and inferences are resolved most favorable to the Plaintiff. The following background is drawn from the Complaint and the factual allegations therein are accepted as true for the purpose of this motion. On March 20, 2006, Plaintiff pro se William J. Harding, Jr. filed a Charge of Discrimination with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") in which he alleged that his employer, Ellwood Specialty Steel ("ESS") had discriminated against him on the basis of "disability." On July 31, 2006, the EEOC issued a Dismissal and Notice of Rights in which it found that the allegations of Plaintiff's Charge "did not involve a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act."

On October 30, 2006, Plaintiff filed in this Court a Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, to which he attached the instant Complaint. On November 1, 2006, the motion was denied. On November 17, 2006, Plaintiff paid the required filing fee, and the pro se Complaint was filed. In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that from June 8, 2005 until October 6, 2005, he had been on short-term disability due to injuries he sustained in a motorcycle accident. On October 6, 2005, he was released by his physician "to return for full duty at 100%." However, his employer, ESS, did not allow him to return to work, but rather placed him on a lay-off due to a lack of work. Plaintiff alleges that he is the "first and only person ever laid off from Ellwood Specialty Steel" and contends that there is no "lack of work" at ESS because its employees are working a mandatory ten (10) hours a week overtime and voluntary weekends.

Defendants have filed the instant Motion to Dismiss in which they argue that Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and should be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Specifically, Defendants contend that (i) the Complaint in this matter was untimely filed; (ii) Plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with respect to Ellwood Group, Inc. ("EGI"); and (iii) Plaintiff is not disabled for purposes of the Americans with Disabilities Act and therefore, his claim against ESS should be dismissed.

Standard of Review

In this case, the motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the Complaint filed by Plaintiff. Accordingly, the Court must determine whether Plaintiff would be entitled to relief under any set of facts that could be established in support of his claims. See Piecknick v. Pennsylvania, 36 F.3d 1250, 1255 (3d Cir. 1994). All allegations in the Complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom must be accepted as true and viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. 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).

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, decisions of government agencies and administrative bodies, and documents referenced in the complaint or which are essential to a plaintiff's claim and are attached to either the Complaint or the defendant's motion. Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993).

Attached to Plaintiff's Complaint is a copy of the July 31, 2006 Dismissal and Notice of Rights letter he received from the EEOC; attached to Defendants' motion is the Plaintiff's EEOC Charge of Discrimination and the EEOC Dismissal and Notice of Rights letter; and attached to Plaintiff's Response in opposition, inter alia, is an EEOC Affidavit signed by Plaintiff on March 15, 2006 and received in the EEOC office on March 20, 2006. Because these documents are either referenced in the Complaint and/or are essential to Plaintiff's claims, the Court has considered these documents without the necessity of converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. Pension Benefit Guar. Corp., 998 F.2d at 1196-97.

Discussion

A. The Complaint Was Timely Received

The first argument of Defendants can be denied with little discussion. The EEOC issued and mailed its "Dismissal and Notice of Rights" letter on July 31, 2006. The Notice informed Plaintiff that any lawsuit must be filed within ninety (90) days of his receipt of the Notice. The Complaint is silent concerning the date Plaintiff received the Right to Sue letter.

Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, to which the instant Complaint was attached, on October 30, 2006, which was within the requisite ninety (90) day filing period. However, the motion was denied and it was not until November 17, 2006, one hundred and nine (109) days after the Right to Sue letter was mailed that Plaintiff paid the requisite filing fee and the Complaint was filed. In his Response, Plaintiff states that he "didn't have the money to pay the $350 court filing cost until following ...


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