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Hobson v. St. Luke's Hospital and Health Network

September 28, 2009

PETER HOBSON, PLAINTIFF
v.
ST. LUKE'S HOSPITAL AND HEALTH NETWORK, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James Knoll Gardner, United States District Judge

OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint, or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment, which motion was filed December 12, 2008.*fn1 Plaintiff filed a timely response to defendant's motion.*fn2 Defendant's Reply Brief was filed January 23, 2009.

For the reasons expressed below, defendant's motion to dismiss the Complaint is granted. Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed without prejudice for plaintiff to file a more specific Amended Complaint. Defendant's alternative motion for summary judgment is dismissed as moot without prejudice for defendant to refile a motion for summary judgment at the close of discovery. Finally, defendant's request for attorneys' fees and costs is denied.

JURISDICTION

This action is before the court on federal question jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The court has supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's pendent state law claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

VENUE

Venue is proper because plaintiff alleges that the facts and circumstances giving rise to the cause of action occurred in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, which is in this judicial district. 28 U.S.C. §§ 118, 1391.

COMPLAINT

This case arises from the termination of plaintiff's employment from defendant St. Luke's Hospital and Health Network. Plaintiff contends that his employment was terminated because he was perceived by his employer as disabled, and therefore his termination for sexual harassment of a female nurse was a pretext. Plaintiff also alleges that he was discriminated against because of his male gender.

Plaintiff filed his Complaint on December 12, 2008. The Complaint contains three counts: Count I alleges a claim for violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-17 ("Title VII"). Count II alleges a claim for violation of Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 to 12213 ("ADA"). The third count alleges that plaintiff's gender discrimination claim in Count I and disability discrimination claim in Count II each constitute a violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, Act of October 27, 1955, P.L. 744, No. 222 §§ 1-13, as amended, 43 P.S. §§ 951-963 ("PHRA").

STANDARD OF REVIEW

A claim may be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." A 12(b)(6) motion requires the court to examine the sufficiency of the complaint. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45, 78 S.Ct. 99, 102, 2 L.Ed.2d 80, 84 (1957) (abrogated in other respects by Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). Ordinarily, a court's review of a motion to dismiss is limited to the contents of the complaint, including any attached exhibits. See Kulwicki v. Dawson, 969 F.2d 1454, 1462 (3d Cir. 1992).

Except as provided in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9, a complaint is sufficient if it complies with Rule 8(a)(2). That rule requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. at 1964, 167 L.Ed.2d at 940.

Additionally, in determining the sufficiency of a complaint, the court must accept as true all well-pled factual allegations and draw all reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Worldcom, Inc. v. Graphnet, Inc., 343 F.3d 651, 653 (3d Cir. 2003). Nevertheless, a court need not credit "bald assertions" or "legal conclusions" when deciding a motion to dismiss. In re Burlington Coat Factory Securities Litigation, 114 F.3d 1410, 1429-1430 (3d Cir. 1997).

In considering whether the complaint survives a motion to dismiss, both the District Court and the Court of Appeals review whether it "contain[s] either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain recovery under some viable legal theory." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 562, 127 S.Ct. at 1969, 167 L.Ed.2d at 944 (quoting Car Carriers, Inc. v. Ford Motor Company, 745 F.2d 1101, 1106 (7th Cir. 1984) (emphasis in original)); Haspel v. State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Company, 241 Fed.Appx. 837, 839 (3d Cir. 2007).

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This action commenced on October 15, 2008 when plaintiff Peter Hobson filed a Praecipe for Writ of Summons against defendant St. Luke's Hospital and Health Network in the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, as civil action number 4966 of 2008. Defendant filed a Praecipe for Rule to File a Complaint. A Rule to File a Complaint was issued and subsequently served upon plaintiff's counsel.

On November 5, 2008 plaintiff filed a Complaint in state court, which was subsequently served on defendant. On December 5, 2008 defendant removed the case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania based on federal question jurisdiction.

On December 12, 2008 defendant filed Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint, or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment, which motion ...


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