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Wikert v. Pennsylvania Dep't of Transportation

January 17, 2008

LINDSAY WIKERT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, WILLIAM HOOK, AND NEVIN CUMPTON,*FN1 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 is the PARTIAL MOTION TO DISMISS, with brief in support filed by Defendants (Document Nos. 6 and 7, respectively) and the RESPONSE AND BRIEF IN OPPOSITION filed by Plaintiff (Document Nos. 9 and 10, respectively). The matter has been fully briefed by the parties and is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be granted.

Background

Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit on October 23, 2007, by the filing of a seven-count Complaint in which she alleges that she was sexually harassed while employed as an intern by Pennsylvania Department of Transportation ("PennDOT"). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that each of the individual defendants engaged in improper behavior of a sexual nature that resulted in a hostile work environment; that Defendants failed to respond adequately to her complaints about such alleged behavior, and that Defendants retaliated against her by giving her lesser responsibilities after she complained about the alleged inappropriate behavior.

Plaintiff's Complaint alleges the following causes of action against all the defendants:

Count I - "Employment Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Under Title VII" Count II - "Retaliation Under Title VII;"

Count III - "Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983;"

Count IV - "Violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act;"

Count V - "Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress;"

Count VI - "Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress;" and Count VII - "Breach of Contract."

Defendants have brought the instant partial motion to dismiss Counts IV, V, VI, and VII of Plaintiff's Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). Defendants contend that Eleventh Amendment immunity and sovereign immunity bar the Pennsylvania state law claims against PennDOT and the individual defendants, who are employees of PennDOT.*fn2

Discussion

First, Defendants move to dismiss Counts IV, V, VI, and VII on the grounds that they are immune from suit by virtue of the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provides,

The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, ...


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