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Warren v. Luzerne County

July 28, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge



Presently before the Courtis Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Doc. 22.) Defendants request that portions of Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 21)be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' motion will be granted in part and denied in part. This Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (federal question), and over Plaintiff's state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367 (supplemental).


I. Factual Background

The facts allegedin Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 21) are as follows: Plaintiff Pearlean Warren is an African American woman born on December 12, 1953. (Amend. Compl. ¶¶ 5, 14, Doc. 21.) Plaintiff was employed as a Correctional Officer at Luzerne County Correctional Facility for approximate seventeen (17) years. (Amend. Compl. ¶ 15.) Plaintiff was the only African American Correctional Officer at Luzerne County Correctional Facility. (Id. ¶ 29.)

Defendant Luzerne County is a duly organized municipality of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (Id. ¶ 6.) Defendant Luzerne County Correctional Facility ("LCCF") is an agency of Luzerne County. (Id. ¶ 7.) Defendant Gene Fischi ("Fischi") was at all relevant times employed as the Warden of LCCF. (Id. ¶ 8.) Defendants Gregory Skrepenak, Maryanne Petrilla ("Petrilla"), Steven Urban, Wister Yuhas, Robert Payne (Id. ¶¶ 9-13) were at all relevant times members of the Prison Board and Luzerne County Commissioners (hereinafter collectively as the "Board Members"). The Commissioners and Fischi approved the LCCF drug testing policy allowing non-medical personnel to collect urine samples. (Id. ¶ 39.) LCCF's drug test policy was based upon the "Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Work Place Drug Testing Programs." (Id. ¶ 20.)

On or about March 7, 2008, Plaintiff reported for duty as a Correctional Officer and was told to report for a drug test. (Id. ¶ 17-18.)"While the drug testing was to be done randomly, the Plaintiff was selectively prosecuted because of her age, race and gender." (Id. ¶ 30.) Plaintiff complied and completed the drug test. (Id. ¶ 19.) Plaintiff's urine sample was collected by a non-prison official under the direction of Fischi. (Id. ¶¶ 21-22.) This drug test was procedurally flawed for numerous reasons, including that: (1) the test did not use a "split screen" process (Id. ¶ 19); (2) the person collecting Plaintiff's specimen was not a medical provider (Id. ¶ 21); (3) the collection procedures used where not identical to those used by medical providers (Id. ¶ 50); (4) there was no showing that the collector had appropriate training (Amend. Compl. ¶ 51); and (5) neither the examining facility nor the type of test conducted are approved by the U.S. Department of Health. (Id. ¶ 35). Also in violation of LCCF's drug test policy, Plaintiff was told that she tested positive by Fischi, rather than by a Medical Review Officer. (Id. ¶ 24.) Plaintiff was denied an interview with a Medical Review Officer. (Id. ¶ 46.) Plaintiff requested that a split sample be tested, but this was not done. (Id. ¶ 25.)

On March 13, 2008, Plaintiff was suspended without pay. (Id. ¶ 32.) White Caucasians who were suspected of drug use were suspended with pay. (Id. ¶ 33.) Plaintiff was discharged on April 28, 2008, for allegedly testing positive for cocaine. (Id. ¶ 34.) Prior to having complete results,*fn1 the Board Members had already determined that Plaintiff would be terminated. (Id. ¶ 40.) The Board Members failed to further investigate the results of the drug test or provide Plaintiff with a hearing before voting to terminate her employment. (Id. ¶ 43.) Defendant Petrilla stated that "she would make certain that the Plaintiff was terminated at the next Prison Board Meeting" without reading LCCF's drug policy. Id. ¶ 42.) The Defendants also "met with each and the sample collector and openly discussed the aspect of the charges and claims that were going to be made against her" in order to terminate Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 61.) The individual defendants also "failed to provide training, education, direction or review of the [drug testing] process." (Id. ¶ 39.)

II. Procedural Background

Plaintiff filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on May 19, 2009. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff then filed an amended complaint on June 3, 2009. (Doc. 3.) On February 9, 2010, this Court issued a Memorandum and Order (Doc. 20) granting the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 5). In that opinion, this Court permitted Plaintiff the opportunity to file an amended complaint as to some of her claims if she could do so in good faith. (Doc. 20.) Plaintiff filed her Second Amended Complaint on March 1, 2010. (Doc. 21.)Defendants filed the present motion to dismiss on March 15, 2010. (Doc. 22.) This motion has been fully briefed by both sides and is now ripe for disposition.


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). Dismissal is appropriate only if, accepting as true all the facts alleged in the complaint, a plaintiff has not pleaded "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), meaning enough factual allegations "'to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of'" each necessary element, Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); see also Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993) (requiring a complaint to set forth information from which each element of a claim may be inferred). In light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), the statement need only "'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'"

Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "[T]he factual detail in a complaint [must not be] so undeveloped that it does not provide a defendant [with] the type of notice of claim which is contemplated by Rule 8." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 232; see also Airborne ...

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