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Marshall v. Fedex Ground Package System

September 7, 2010

GUY MARSHALL, PLAINTIFF
v.
FEDEX GROUND PACKAGE SYSTEM, INC., DEFENDANT



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

(JUDGE CAPUTO)

(MAGISTRATE JUDGE CARLSON)

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Magistrate Judge Carlson's Report and Recommendation ("R&R") recommending that Defendant's motion to dismiss be granted in part and denied in part: Magistrate Judge Carlson recommended that the pendant state claim of defamation and the Title VII claims raised for the first time in the amended complaint be dismissed, and that the original retaliation claim be re-committed to the Magistrate Judge. For reasons to be discussed more fully below, this Court will adopt Magistrate Judge Carlson's recommendations.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was formerly employed by FedEx Ground Packaging Systems ("FedEx"). In September 2005, he complained to a supervisor that female workers were being allowed to "get away with" not doing their work. (Compl., Exhibit A). Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff's workload assignment was restructured and, as a result, Plaintiff filed a complaint with FedEx's internal complaint office regarding this restructuring. At the end of October 2005, after receiving a warning earlier in the month about excessive absences, Plaintiff was fired for violating the company's attendance policy.

Following termination, Plaintiff filed an administrative complaint against FedEx with the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission (PHRC) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), in which he made two retaliation claims; Plaintiff claimed that both the warning he received and eventual termination were retaliation for his complaints of favorable treatment of female co-workers, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a). After receiving a "right to sue" letter on September 15, 2009, Plaintiff brought the instant suit, filing his complaint on December 24, 2009.*fn1 Plaintiff's complaint contained substantively the same allegations raised in the EEOC complaint.

Plaintiff then filed an amended complaint on April 26, 2010. (Doc. 19.) The amended complaint contained the original allegations, as well as broader allegations not found in the original EEOC or PHRC complaints and defamation claims based on state law. Defendant then filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint on June 2, 2010. (Doc. 27.) On July 13, 2010, Magistrate Judge Carlson issued a Report and Recommendation that recommended that Defendant's motion to dismiss be granted in part and denied in part. Magistrate Judge Carlson recommended that 1) the state law defamation claim be dismissed since the statute of limitations had already run, 2) the additional discrimination claims be dismissed because they had not been contained in the original EEOC and PHRC complaints and therefore the administrative remedies had not yet been exhausted, and 3) the original retaliation claims that were contained in the administrative complaint be re-committed. Defendant filed an Objection to the R&R on July 29, 2010. (Doc. 36.) The Objection is currently ripe for disposition.

LEGAL STANDARD

I. Report and Recommendation

Where objections to the magistrate judge's report are filed, the Court must conduct a de novo review of the contested portions of the report, Sample v. Diecks, 885 F.2d 1099, 1106 n.3 (3d Cir. 1989) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c)), provided the objections are both timely and specific, Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5, 6-7 (3d Cir. 1984). In making its de novo review, the Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the factual findings or legal conclusions of the magistrate judge. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Owens v. Beard, 829 F. Supp. 736, 738 (M.D. Pa. 1993). Although the review is de novo, the statute permits the Court to rely on the recommendations of the magistrate judge to the extent it deems proper. See United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 675-76 (1980); Goney, 749 F.2d at 7; Ball v. United States Parole Comm'n, 849 F. Supp. 328, 330 (M.D. Pa. 1994). Uncontested portions of the report may be reviewed at a standard determined by the district court. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 154 (1985); Goney, 749 F.2d at 7. At the very least, the Court should review uncontested portions for clear error or manifest injustice. See, e.g., Cruz v. Chater, 990 F. Supp. 375, 376-77 (M.D. Pa. 1998).

II. Motion to Dismiss

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. 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 Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2007).

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court should consider the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, and matters of public record. See Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). The Court may also consider "undisputedly authentic" documents when the plaintiff's claims are based on the documents and the defendant has attached copies of the documents to the motion to dismiss. Id. The Court need not assume the plaintiff can prove facts that were not alleged in the complaint, see City of Pittsburgh v. W. Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256, 263 & n.13 (3d Cir. 1998), or credit a complaint's "'bald assertions'" or "'legal conclusions,'" Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) ...


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