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Carter v. Commonwealth

September 29, 2009

THOMAS CARTER, III, WILLIAM A. CARTER, CHARLES H. CURRY, ROBERT L. DESROSIERS, STEVEN D. FORMAN, GREGORY P. HEIL, RICHARD E. HEISERMAN, ELLERY F. JOYNES, EDWARD J. KAZLO, STEPHEN I. LYLES, JR., GENERO T. MITCHELL, JR., ROBIN M. MITCHELL, ARTHUR POOLE, JR., EDWARD W. PORTER, THOMAS V. WATERS AND IRA T. WATTS, PLAINTIFFS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE, 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 filed December 18, 2008 by defendant Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State Police.*fn1

On January 30, 2009, plaintiffs filed their answer to defendant's motion. Plaintiffs' answer was titled Plaintiffs' Response in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. Oral argument was held before me on July 7, 2009, and the matter was taken under advisement.

For the reasons expressed in this Opinion, I grant in part and deny in part Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. Specifically, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Counts II and III of plaintiffs' complaint is granted by agreement of counsel, and Counts II and III are dismissed from the complaint. I deny Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Count I because I conclude that plaintiffs have sufficiently pled a cause of action upon which relief can be granted in Count I.

COMPLAINT

On November 17, 2008 plaintiffs filed a three-count Complaint - Civil Action.

Count I of the complaint alleges claims of race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-17 ("Title VII").

Count II alleges claims of race discrimination under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1981a ("Section 1981").

Count III alleges claims of age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 to 634 ("ADEA").

JURISDICTION

Jurisdiction is based on federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331(a). The court also has original jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3) and 29 U.S.C. § 2617(a)(2).

VENUE

Venue is proper pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3), 29 U.S.C. § 2617(a)(2) and 28 U.S.C. § 1391 because the events giving rise to the claims allegedly occurred in King of Prussia, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, which is in this judicial district.

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 determinating 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, 1429-30 (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 Automobile Insurance Company, 241 Fed.Appx. 837, 839 (3d Cir. 2007).

FACTS

Based upon the averments in plaintiffs' Complaint -Civil Action, which I must accept as true under the foregoing standard of review, the pertinent facts are as follows.

The Pennsylvania State Police ("PSP") has a history of employment discrimination against minority state troopers. In 1973 a class action lawsuit was filed against PSP because of its discriminatory hiring and promotion policies and practices.*fn2

As a result of this lawsuit, PSP entered into a Consent Decree in 1974 in which it agreed to develop job-related hiring and promotion standards. The Consent Decree was instrumental in increasing the percentage of minority troopers admitted and promoted within the PSP. As a result, there was an increase in the number of minority state troopers within the state police, particularly at the King of Prussia barracks.*fn3

Each plaintiff is a present or former employee of PSP, over the age of 40, employed as a state trooper at Troop T's King of Prussia barracks.*fn4 In addition to King of Prussia, Troop T has barracks located in the Poconos, Bowmansville, Newville, ...


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