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Donnelly v. TRL

June 25, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. John E. Jones III



Pending before the Court are the following motions: Motion of Transcontinental Refrigerated Lines, Inc. to Dismiss for Violation of Automatic Stay (Doc. 6) filed on April 27, 2010; Motion to Dismiss by Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Doc. 12) filed on April 30, 2010; and Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 12(B)(1), or in the Alternative, Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 12(B)(6) of Defendant Compservices (Doc. 21) filed on May 19, 2010. For the reasons that follow, all of the pending motions to dismiss shall be granted and this case shall be closed.*fn1


Plaintiff Edward W. Donnelly ("Plaintiff" or "Donnelly") initiated this matter, pro se, on March 26, 2010 by filing a Complaint with Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis. (Docs. 1 and 2).The matter was assigned to the Honorable Thomas I. Vanaskie. By Order dated April 8, 2010, Judge Vanaskie granted the Plaintiff in forma pauperis status, and the United States Marshal was directed to serve the Complaint upon the Defendants TRL, Inc., Compservices, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (Doc. 5). Thereafter, the Defendants each filed a motion to dismiss. The motions have all been fully briefed and are therefore ripe for our review.


In considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), courts "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, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Pinker v. Roche Holdings, Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002)). In resolving a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court generally should consider only the allegations in the complaint, as well as "documents that are attached to or submitted with the complaint, . . . and any matters incorporated by reference or integral to the claim, items subject to judicial notice, matters of public record, orders, [and] items appearing in the record of the case." Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2006).

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the sufficiency of the complaint against the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a). Rule 8(a)(2) requires that a complaint contain 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. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss need not contain detailed factual allegations, it must contain "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, --- U.S. ---, ---, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). To survive a motion to dismiss, a civil plaintiff must allege facts that 'raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . ." Victaulic Co. v. Tieman, 499 F.3d 227, 235 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Accordingly, to satisfy the plausibility standard, the complaint must indicate that defendant's liability is more than "a sheer possibility." Iqbal, 120 S.Ct. At 1949. "Where a complaint pleads facts that are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it 'stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

Under the two-pronged approach articulated in Twombly and later formalized in Iqbal, a district court must first identify all factual allegations that constitute nothing more than "legal conclusions" or "naked assertions." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557. Such allegations are "not entitled to the assumption of truth" and must be disregarded for purposes of resolving a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950. Next, the district court must identify "the 'nub' of the . . . complaint -- the well-pleaded, nonconclusory factual allegation[s]." Id. Taking these allegations as true, the district judge must then determine whether the complaint states a plausible claim for relief. See id.

However, "a complaint may not be dismissed merely because it appears unlikely that the plaintiff can prove those facts or will ultimately prevail on the merits." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 231 (citing Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1964-65, 1969 n.8). Rule 8 "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." Id. at 234.


This case apparently arises out of the alleged breach of a July 2007 settlement of a worker's compensation matter involving the parties. Plaintiff asserts that his claims arise from improper decisions of the Pennsylvania department of Labor and Industry and Workers' Compensation Office of Adjudication, improper reproduction of various records, and ex parte communications between counsel for the employer (TRL) and administrator (Compservices) with the workers' compensation judge.

In his prayer for relief, Plaintiff requests the following: I am seeking to have the letter of resignation rescinded, liquidated damages from the settlement agreement, back wages I lost, damages for violating my Civil Rights (ex parte communications), damages from the illegal reproduction of the Transcript from my Worker's Compensation Hearing on July 12, 2007, liquidated damages, punitive damages, and the travel ...

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