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Richardson v. CSS Industries

May 13, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jones, J.


Before the court is Defendant Paper Magic Group, Inc.'s ("PMG") Motion to Dismiss Count II of Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. Nos. 8 & 9), Plaintiff's Response in Opposition thereto (Doc. No. 14), and PMG's Reply (Doc. No. 19). For the reasons that follow, PMG's Motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Procedural History

On August 15, 2008, Plaintiff Greg Richardson filed a Complaint against CSS Industries, Inc. and PMG. Plaintiff claims violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") (Count I) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA") (Count II). On November 21, 2008, PMG filed a Partial Answer to the Complaint. Also on that date, PMG filed a Motion to Dismiss Count II of the Complaint. On December 8, 2008, Plaintiff filed a Response in opposition to PMG's Motion. PMG filed a Reply on January 23, 2009.

II. Factual Allegations

The court recites the facts as alleged in the Complaint and as viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff.

CSS is the parent corporation of PMG. (Compl. ¶ 2.) Plaintiff was employed with PMG from April 12, 1999, until he was terminated on March 23, 2007. (Compl. ¶¶ 7, 18.)*fn1 He held the position of Superintendent from October 2002 until his termination. (Compl. ¶ 7.)

While employed by PMG, Plaintiff anticipated being promoted to the position of plant manager. (Compl. ¶ 21.) He had been groomed for that position over a five-year period. (Compl. ¶ 21.) PMG failed to promote Plaintiff. (See Compl. ¶ 16.) After Plaintiff was terminated, he learned that Scott Andrews was promoted from Human Resource Manager to Plant Manager. (Compl. ¶ 22.) Mr. Andrews was not qualified for that position. (Compl. ¶ 22.) Plaintiff was more qualified than Mr. Andrews. (Compl. ¶ 22.)

While employed by PMG, Plaintiff underwent open-heart surgery in April of 2000. (Compl.¶ 17.) In a staff meeting prior to Plaintiff's termination and prior to PMG's failure to promote Plaintiff, Rich Denny, Vice-President of PMG, said that people who were having open heart surgery were costing the company's insurance company $250,000 per year. (Compl. ¶ 16.) Mr. Denny was referring to the increased cost of insurance premiums paid by the company and employees. (Compl. ¶ 16.) When PMG terminated Plaintiff on March 23, 2007, PMG informed him that his termination was the result of layoffs. (Compl. ¶ 18.) Plaintiff believes that his termination was due, inter alia, to his use of company-sponsored medical insurance benefits. (Compl. ¶ 19.) Plaintiff also believes that PMG failed to promote him to the position of plant manager because PMG intended to terminate his medical benefits. (See Compl. ¶¶ 15, 24.)

III. Standard of Review

In deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), courts must "accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation and citation omitted). After the Supreme Court's decision in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), "it is no longer sufficient to allege mere elements of a cause of action; instead a complaint must allege facts suggestive of the proscribed conduct." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 233 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563 n.8) (internal quotation and alteration omitted). To withstand a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Phillips at 234 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555) (alternation omitted). Thus, stating a claim "requires a complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest the required element." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556) (internal quotation omitted).

IV. Discussion

In Count II of his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that PMG wrongfully discharged him and failed to promote him in violation of Section 510 of ERISA ("Section 510"). Section 510 makes it "unlawful for any person to discharge, fine, suspend, expel, discipline, or discriminate against a participant or beneficiary for exercising any right to which he is entitled under the provisions of an employee benefit plan . . . or for the purpose of interfering with the attainment of any right to which such participant may become entitled under the plan. . . ." 29 U.S.C. § 1140. "To establish a prima facie case under ERISA § 510, an employee must demonstrate (1) prohibited employer conduct (2) taken ...

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