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Schengrund v. Pennsylvania State University

January 12, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Kane


Before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' second amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Doc. No. 48.) The motion has been fully briefed, and is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be granted.


Plaintiffs Cara-Lynne Schengrund, Joanna Floros, Kathryn Lanoue, Carol Whitfield, Judith Weisz, Margaret Goldman, Patricia S. Grigson, and Kathleen Mulder are or were female professors ("Professors") at the Penn State College of Medicine, also known as the Penn State Hershey Medical Center College of Medicine ("COM").

During their employment at COM, although salary information was kept confidential, Plaintiffs noticed disparities between their salaries and what appeared to be male professors' salaries. (Doc. No. 45 ¶ 29.) In or around 2000, senior women faculty members at COM formed a group to investigate and attempt to remedy the suspected salary inequities. (Id. ¶ 30.) Over the course of the next few years, several studies were conducted and most, if not all, demonstrated systemic gender bias in COM salaries. (Id.)

In response to the studies, particularly one done by Haignere, Inc. in 2004 ("Haignere study"), Defendants made across-the-board salary adjustments and even adjusted some individual salaries. (Id. ¶ 31.) However, Plaintiffs allege that the adjustments did not fully remedy the inequity, and Plaintiffs allege that they continue to be denied equal pay, bonuses, retirement packages, and other benefits.

As a result of the wage discrepancies, Plaintiffs all filed claims with the Pennsylvania Human Resources Commission ("PHRC"), which lead to claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Plaintiffs then filed this action within 90 days of receipt of their EEOC right-to-sue letters.

Since the filing of the lawsuit, Plaintiffs have amended their complaint once voluntarily (Doc. No. 12) and were allowed leave to amend again pursuant to this Court's order ("Prior Order") (Doc. No. 42) granting in part and dismissing in part Defendants' first motion for partial dismissal (Doc. No. 13). Plaintiffs amended their complaint to include details regarding the employment positions and responsibilities of each of the individual defendants and to clarify that their §§ 1983 and 1985 claims are based upon both violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. (Doc. No. 45.) Now before the Court is Defendants' motion for partial dismissal of Plaintiffs' second amended complaint. (Doc. No. 48.) The motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.


A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint, Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993), and is properly granted when, taking all factual allegations and inferences as true, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Markowitz v. Northeast Land Co., 906 F.2d 100, 103 (3d Cir. 1990). The burden is on the moving party to show that no claim has been stated. Johnsrud v. Carter, 620 F.2d 29, 33 (3d Cir. 1980). Thus, the moving party must show that Plaintiff has failed to "set forth sufficient information to outline the elements of his claim or to permit inferences to be drawn that those elements exist." Kost, 1 F.3d at 183 (citations omitted). A court, however, "need not credit a complaint's 'bald assertions' or 'legal conclusions' when deciding a motion to dismiss." Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906, 908 (3d Cir. 1997). Indeed, the Supreme Court has recently held that while this standard does not require "detailed factual allegations," there must be a "'showing,' rather than a blanket assertion of entitlement to relief . . . '[F]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level'" in order to survive a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Philips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231-32 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007)).


1. Dismissal of claims against Dr. Spanier

Defendants first seek to remove Dr. Spanier, named as a Defendant only in his official capacity, from the caption of the case in light of the fact that all claims against him were dismissed in the Prior Order. Plaintiffs acknowledge this in their brief in opposition. Accordingly, ...

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