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Pribula v. Wyoming Area School Dist.

July 26, 2007

PATRICK J. PRIBULA, ROBERT MICHELETTI, AND JAMES G. ZARRA, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
WYOMING AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Defendants Wyoming Area School District (the "School District"), Raymond Bernardi, Anthony Sobeski, Antoinette Valenti, John Lanunziata, Nick DeAngelo, John Bolin, Jerry Wall and John Marianacci's (the "Individual Defendants") (collectively, the "Defendants") Motion to Dismiss the Complaint (Doc. 1) of Plaintiffs Patrick J. Pribula, Robert Micheletti and James G. Zarra pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 7.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant this motion as to all of Plaintiffs' claims except Plaintiffs' First Amendment retaliation claim brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This claim may be maintained against the School District and the Individual Defendants. Plaintiffs may seek punitive damages against the Individual Defendants in their individual capacities. The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1367.

BACKGROUND

On October 17, 2006, Plaintiffs filed the instant 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action in this Court. Their Complaint (Doc. 1) is not well organized and is unclear. It contains vague and conclusory statements. No counts are set forth. As such, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what claims Plaintiffs attempt to state. However, from a careful reading of the Complaint, it appears that Plaintiffs allege as follows.

Plaintiffs are or were employees of the School District. (Id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiffs have been victims of retaliatory actions by the Individual Defendants, board members of the School District, because they did not support the Individual Defendants in their campaigns to become board members, but, rather, took a public stance against the Individual Defendants' candidacies. (Id. ¶¶ 1, 13 and 14.) Plaintiffs have been viciously attacked by Defendants in the press, at public activities, and in their employment. (Id. ¶ 1.) Plaintiffs were given harmful, misleading and inaccurate employment reviews, their schedules were altered, and they were given demeaning duty assignments. (Id. ¶¶ 13 and 16.)

Plaintiff Pribula, years ago, successfully sued the School District and, since that time, has suffered retaliation as a consequence of that lawsuit. (Id. ¶ 1.)

Plaintiff Zarra was forced "to suffer a constructive discharge." (Id. ¶ 13.) For example, Plaintiff Zarra "was ordered . . . to work on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, even though the entire rest of the school district staff was off, all just to be hateful and show the plaintiffs that defendants intended to retaliate through even the most superficial and petty means." (Id. ¶ 17.)

Plaintiff Micheletti's contract terms were altered so as to intentionally deprive him "of contractual entitlements in excess of $88,000." (Id.) It appears that Plaintiffs Pribula and Zarra also allege that their contracts were interfered with by Defendants. (See id. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff Micheletti was also not allowed to return to work. (Id.)

All of these actions were part of an unlawful conspiracy perpetrated by Defendants so as to deprive Plaintiffs of their rights. (Id. ¶ 9.) These actions were also part of an unlawful custom, practice, usage and policy of retaliation promulgated by the School District. (Id. ¶ 13.)

As mentioned above, Plaintiffs do not set forth any counts in their Complaint. However, it appears that Plaintiffs attempt to state the following claims: (1) First Amendment retaliation; (2) violation of their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection of law; (3) section 1985 conspiracy; (4) section 1983 municipal liability based upon a policy, custom or practice; and (5) state law claims for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy and intentional interference with contractual relations. Plaintiffs also seek punitive damages.

On February 12, 2007, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 7.) Defendants filed a brief in support of their motion. (Doc. 8.) Plaintiffs filed a brief in opposition on April 4, 2007. (Doc. 11.) As such, Defendants' motion is fully briefed and is now 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 ...


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