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Dalzell v. Astrue

March 3, 2008

JANICE L. DALZELL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, AND SANDRA SAUNDERS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David Stewart Cercone United States District Judge

Electronic Filing

MEMORANDUMOPINION

I. INTRODUCTION

Pro se Plaintiff, Janice L. Dalzell ("Plaintiff" or "Dalzell"), filed a complaint alleging employment discrimination based upon disability and "race/ethnicity." In addition to her employment claims, Plaintiff made claims for libel, slander and defamation against her supervisor, Sandra Saunders*fn1 ("Saunders"). Defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1), 12(b)(5) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In an Opinion dated March 23, 2007, the Court:

1. dismissed Plaintiff's claim under the ADA;

2. permitted Plaintiff to file an amended complaint setting forth a "denial of opportunity claim" based upon a disability under the Rehabilitation Act;

3. quashed Plaintiff's service on Defendants, and gave Plaintiff additional time to serve Defendants with the amended complaint consistent with Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; and

4. dismissed all the remaining claims, with prejudice, for failure to exhaust the required administrative remedies.

Despite the clear mandate of the Court, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint again naming Saunders as a defendant and raising claims that had been dismissed with prejudice. Plaintiff also raised numerous allegations in addition to her denial of opportunity claim. Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's amended complaint, or in the alternative, a motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff has filed a response*fn2 and the matters are now before the Court.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

It is well settled that, in reviewing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), "[t]he applicable standard of review requires the court to accept as true all allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." Rocks v. City of Philadelphia, 868 F.2d 644, 645 (3d Cir. 1989). Dismissal of a complaint is proper only where "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957); Langford v. City of Atlantic City, 235 F.3d 845, 847 (3d Cir. 2000)(citing Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996)). The question is not whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail; instead, it is whether the plaintiff can prove any set of facts consistent with the averments of the complaint which would show the plaintiff is entitled to relief. Jordan v. Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel, 20 F.3d 1250, 1261 (3d Cir. 1994). Under this standard, a complaint will be deemed sufficient if it adequately puts the defendant on notice of the essential elements of a cause of action. Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d at 66.

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, 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).

Pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P 56(c), summary judgment shall be granted when there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. To support denial of summary judgment, an issue of fact in dispute must be both genuine and material, i.e., one upon which a reasonable fact finder could base a verdict for the non-moving party and one which is essential to establishing the claim. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). When considering a motion for summary judgment, the court is not permitted to weigh the evidence or to make credibility determinations, but is limited to deciding whether there are any disputed issues and, if there are, whether they are both genuine and material. Id. The court's consideration of the facts must be in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment and all reasonable inferences from the facts must be drawn in favor of that party as well. Whiteland Woods, L.P. v. Township of West Whiteland, 193 F.3d 177, 180 (3d Cir. 1999), Tigg Corp. v. Dow Corning Corp., 822 F.2d 358, 361 (3d Cir. 1987).

When the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). In the language of the Rule, the nonmoving party must come forward with "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." FED. R. CIV. P 56(e). Where the record taken as a ...


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