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Hajel v. Ludlum

May 25, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: David Stewart Cercone United States District Judge

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Plaintiff, Todd Hajel ("Hajel" or "Plaintiff"), filed a complaint against Defendant, Allegheny Ludlum ("Ludlum"), alleging: (1) violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq, (2) retaliation under the ADA, and (3) violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 Pa.C.S. § 951 et seq. Hajel contends that Ludlum discriminated against him when he was placed on involuntary medical leave subsequent to a physical examination conducted by Ludlum's physician. Ludlum filed a motion to dismiss, Hajel has responded and the motion is now before the Court. For the reasons that follow, Ludlum's motion shall be granted.


In deciding a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court is required to accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and draw all inferences from the facts alleged in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Worldcom, Inc. v. Graphnet, Inc., 343 F.3d 651, 653 (3d Cir. 2003). It had long been part of the Rule 12(b)(6) standard that a complaint may not be dismissed "unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." See Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). The United States Supreme Court, however, disavowed the "no set of facts" language as part of the Rule 12(b)(6) standard, instructing: "[t]his phrase is best forgotten as an incomplete, negative gloss on an accepted pleading standard: once a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint." Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 563 (2007). To survive a motion to dismiss, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)(citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570); see also Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). Therefore, a plaintiff must make a factual showing of his entitlement to relief by alleging sufficient facts that, when taken as true, suggest the required elements of a particular legal theory. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008).

The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit summarized the Twombly formulation of the pleading standard as follows: '"stating... a claim requires a complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest' the required element. This 'does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage,' but instead 'simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' the necessary element." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d at 234 (internal citations omitted). In so deciding, a court usually looks "only to the facts alleged in the complaint and its attachments without reference to other parts of the record," see Jordan v. Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel, 20 F.3d 1250, 1261 (3d Cir. 1994), but it also may consider "matters of public record... and undisputedly authentic documents attached to a motion to dismiss." Delaware Nation v. Pennsylvania, 446 F.3d 410, 413 n.2 (3d Cir. 2006).


Allegheny Ludlum, part of Allegheny Technologies, Inc., is a Pennsylvania Corporation engaged in the business of manufacturing specialty metals. Complaint ¶ 2. In May of 2006, Hajel was hired by Ludlum as a laborer. Complaint ¶ 7. Prior to the beginning of Hajel's employment with Ludlum and continuing through the present, Hajel suffers from physical impairments of hypertension and severe arthritis of his neck and left shoulder. Complaint ¶ 9. Because he is unable to endure other common treatments for his impairments, Hajel is required to take medications, including Hydrocodone and OxyContin, to control the pain. Complaint ¶ 10. Hajel had been taking this medication throughout his course of employment and had not had any accidents, work related injuries, or performance problems. Complaint ¶ 15. Hajel admits that his physical impairments, and required medication, neither substantially limit a major life activity nor require accommodation. Complaint ¶ 11.

In 2007, Hajel disclosed his medical conditions and medications to Ludlum's physician at the annual physical examination required by Ludlum. Complaint ¶ 12 & 13. In November of 2008, Ludlum's physician conducted another annual physical examination of Hajel. Complaint ¶ 13. As a result of the 2008 examination, Ludlum required Hajel to take a medical leave beginning November 18, 2008. Complaint ¶ 14. Hajel returned to work on March 27, 2009 after an independent physician confirmed that Hajel was able to safely perform his job duties while taking the required medication to control the pain related to his physical impairments. Complaint ¶ 18.

Prior to the commencement of the current action and during Hajel's involuntary medical leave, Hajel filed a charge of discrimination against Ludlum with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission ("PHRC") contending that Ludlum regarded him as disabled. Complaint ¶ 24. The EEOC issued a right to sue letter on November 5, 2009. Complaint ¶ 24.


A. Applicable Law

The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 ("ADAAA"), which made changes to the ADA, was signed into law on September 25, 2008 and became effective on January 1, 2009, after the alleged discriminatory conduct at issue in this case. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has not decided whether the ADAAA is retroactive, Lekich v. Pawlowski, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 1051 (3d Cir. Pa. Jan. 15, 2010), however, several courts, including this District Court*fn1, have declined to apply the ADAAA retroactively. See e.g. EEOC v. Agro Distrib., LLC, 555 F.3d 462, 469 n.8 (5th Cir. 2009) (holding that the ADA Amendment "changes do not apply retroactively"); Fikes v. Wal-Mart, Inc., 322 Fed. Appx. 882, 883 n.1 (11th Cir. 2009) (applying the "ADA as it was in effect at the time of the alleged discrimination"); Kiesewetter v. Caterpillar, Inc., 295 Fed. Appx. 850, 851 (7th ...

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