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Hruska v. Vacation Charters

January 27, 2009

JOHN J. HRUSKA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VACATION CHARTERS, LTD., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Defendant Vacation Charters, Ltd.'s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Complaint or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 31.) Plaintiff John Hruska's complaint raises claims for disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), 43 P.S. §§ 951, et seq. For the reasons stated below, the Court will grant Vacation Charters' motion.

As this case is brought under the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq., this Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("federal question").

BACKGROUND

Litigation between these parties began when Hruska filed a complaint against his former employer, Vacation Charters (the "First Action") on August 24, 2006, asserting a claim under the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq. (Doc. 1.) In the First Action complaint, Hruska stated, "[r]elated discrimination claims are still pending before the appropriate federal and state agencies and Plaintiff intends to join these claims by an amended pleading when those claims are ripe for judicial action." (First Action Compl. Prelim. Statement, Doc. 1.) In the Joint Case Management Plan submitted by the parties on October 3, 2007 regarding the First Action, Hruska stated that he had requested a right to sue letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for the related disability discrimination claim, but the letter had not yet been issued. (Case Mgmt. Plan § 10, Doc. 17.) At the October 5, 2007 Case Management Conference on the First Action, Vacation Charters' counsel informed Hruska's counsel that the EEOC had issued a right to sue letter to Hruska the previous month. The letter, originally issued on September 10, 2007, was faxed to Hruska's counsel by Vacation Charters' counsel on October 10, 2007. (Pl.'s Br. in Opp'n 2, Doc. 33.)

On October 20, 2007, Hruska filed an amended complaint in the First Action, adding disability discrimination claims under the ADA and PHRA. (Doc. 20.) This complaint was struck from the record by the Court for failure to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 and Rule 15.1 of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Local Rules. (Doc. 21.) Hruska then filed a new complaint (the "Second Action") on January 7, 2008, asserting the same disability discrimination claims. The Court consolidated the First and Second Actions on June 17, 2008. (Doc. 29.)

In the Second Action complaint, Hruska alleges that, even though the EEOC letter was issued on September 10, 2007, it was only received by Hruska, through his counsel, on October 10, 2007 from Vacation Charters' counsel. (Second Action Compl. ¶ 10, Doc. 1, Dckt. No. 08-cv-0042.) He further alleges that neither he nor his counsel received any direct notification of the letter from the EEOC. (Id.)

Vacation Charters filed the present motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment, on August 6, 2008. (Doc. 31.) It argues that Hruska failed to file his ADA claim within the statutorily-mandated ninety (90) day filing period, which it contends began on October 5, 2007 when Hruska, through his attorney, learned of the right to sue letter's issuance. Vacation Charters further argues that, because the ADA claim is time-barred, the state discrimination claim should be dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Hruska argues in response that the ninety (90) day period began on October 10, 2007 when he actually received the letter. As such, he asserts that he timely filed. The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.

Though Vacation Charters moves for summary judgment in the alternative, it fails to comply with Middle District Local Rule 56.1, requiring motions for summary judgment be accompanied by the filing and service of a separate statement of material facts. Consequently, the Court will consider only Defendant's motion to dismiss.

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 as true all the facts alleged in the complaint, Plaintiff has not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1960 (2007), meaning, enough factual allegations "to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of" each necessary element. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008); see also Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993) (requiring complaint to set forth information from which each element of a claim may be inferred). In light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), the statement need only "give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (per curiam). "[T]he factual detail in a complaint [must not be] so undeveloped that it does not provide a defendant the type of notice of claim which is contemplated by Rule 8." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 232; see also Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2007).

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court may consider the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint and matters of public record, including judicial proceedings. S. Cross Overseas Agencies, Inc. v. Wah Kwong Shipping Group, Ltd., 181 F.3d 410, 426 (3d Cir. 1999). 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 256, 263 (3d Cir. 1998), nor credit a complaint's "bald assertions" or "legal conclusions." Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997).

When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court's role is limited to determining whether the plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence in support of the claims. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). The Court does not consider whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail. Id. The defendant bears the burden of establishing that the plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Gould Elecs. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 178 (3d Cir. 2000).Granting a Rule 12(b)(6) motion based on statute of limitations grounds is proper ...


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