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Venturi v. Krenitsky

August 8, 2008

MICHELLE VENTURI, PLAINTIFF
v.
JAMES KRENITSKY, AND BOROUGH OF OLD FORGE, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge James M. Munley United States District Court

(Judge Munley)

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is defendants' partial motion to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint (Doc. 5). Having been fully briefed and argued, the matter is right for disposition.

Background

Plaintiff worked for Defendant Old Forge Police Department as a part-time police officer from January 2005 to July 2006. (Complaint (hereinafter "Complt." (Doc. 1) at ¶ 6). During that time, Defendant James Krenitsky was the Captain of the Old Forge Police Department. (Id. at ¶ 8). Together with Lawrence A. Semenza, he supervised the palitniff. (Id.).

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Krenisky subjected her to sexual harassment while she worked for the force. (Id. at ¶ 9). Plaintiff points to several examples of the alleged harassment. Around July 2006, Krenitsky, in the presence of plaintiff and a fireman, asked another police officer through a two-way radio, whether he would marry the plaintiff if she weren't already dating someone. (Id. at ¶ 11). The officer replied that he would not. (Id.). The Chief then asked the officer if he would "f--k her." (Id. at ¶ 12). The officer replied that he would. (Id.). On that same day, the Chief, again in plaintiff's presence, asked another officer the same questions. (Id. at ¶¶ 13-14). He replied in the same way. (Id.). The Chief had the same conversation with a third officer in plaintiff's presence later that day. (Id. at ¶¶ 15-16).

Plaintiff alleges that these comments were "part of a continuing and ongoing series of comments and remarks made within the workplace, which also included regular off-color remarks specifically directed at Plaintiff by Krenitsky." (Id. at ¶ 17). She contends that the conduct was unwelcome, sexual in nature, and not related to her job. (Id. at ¶ 18). The harassment became so severe and pervasive that plaintiff contends it created a hostile work environment. (Id. at ¶ 19).

Plaintiff reported this behavior to the Borough's mayor, who took no action. (Id. at ¶¶ 20-21). The borough lacked a policy to deal with such behavior and took no measures to try and prevent it. (Id. at ¶¶ 22, 24). This behavior caused plaintiff severe emotional distress. (Id. at ¶ 23). Eventually, the environment became so intolerable that plaintiff felt compelled to leave her job in September 2006. (Id. at ¶ 25).

Plaintiff field a three-count complaint on February 6, 2008. Count I is brought pursuant to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e, against all of the defendants for hostile work environment sexual harassment. She seeks both compensatory and punitive damages on that count. Count II is a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress against Krenitsky and the Borough. Count III is a negligent infliction of emotional distress claim against all of the defendants.

Defendants filed a partial motion to dismiss plaintiff's negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims on March 5, 2008. (Doc. 5). The parties then briefed the issue and the court held oral argument, bringing the case to its present posture.

Jurisdiction

As this case is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e we have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."). We have jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) ("In any civil action of which the district courts have original jurisdiction, the district courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy under Article II of the United States Constitution.").

Legal Standard

Before the court are defendants' motions to dismiss the instant complaint. When analyzing a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, all well-pleaded allegations of the complainant must be viewed as true and in the light most favorable to the non- movant to determine whether "under any reasonable reading of the pleadings, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Colburn v. Upper Darby Township, 838 F.2d 663, 665-666 (3d Cir. 1988) (citing Estate of Bailey by Oare v. County of York, 768 F.3d 503, 506 (3d Cir. 1985), (quoting Helstoski v. Goldstein, 552 F.2d 564, 565 (3d Cir. 1977) (per curiam)). The court may also consider "matters of public record, orders, exhibits attached to the complaint and items appearing in the record of the case." Oshiver v. Levin Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n.2 (3d Cir. 1994)(citations omitted). The court does not have to accept legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences. See Curay-Cramer v. Ursuline Acad. of Wilmington, Del., Inc., 450 F.3d 130, 133 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. ...


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