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Truong v. Dart Container Corp.

October 25, 2010

ANH TRUONG, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS
v.
DART CONTAINER CORPORATION, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stengel, J.

MEMORANDUM

This is an employment discrimination case filed by Anh Truong and Cam Vo, who claim that their employment with Defendant Dart Corporation was terminated because of their race, their national origin, and their disability. The plaintiffs also claim that they were wrongfully discharged in retaliation for asserting workers' compensation claims; that they were both defamed by the defendant; and that the defendant invaded Miss Truong's privacy by intruding upon her right to seclusion.Miss Vo claims that she was discriminated against because of her "association" with Miss Truong. The defendant has filed a motion to dismiss. For the following reasons, I will grant the motion in its entirety.

I. BACKGROUND*fn1

Defendant Dart manufactures cups, bowls, and other containers, and related goods and accessories for food service and consumer use. It hired Miss Vo and Miss Truong as product "packers" in 1993 and 1994, respectively. See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 12, 14. The plaintiffs are Asian females born in Vietnam. Id. ¶¶ 11, 13. Miss Truong speaks Vietnamese and "little to no English." Id. ¶ 11. Miss Vo speaks Vietnamese and "broken English." Id. ¶ 13.

On February 8, 2008, Miss Vo was injured at work when she banged her head on a steel door. Id. ¶ 16. The amended complaint alleges that the injury "disabled Vo with a permanent facial scar and caused her to endure disabling headaches and impaired vision." Id. ¶ 17. Miss Vo visited the defendant's occupational health provider as a result of her injury. Id. ¶ 19.

Miss Truong also reported a work-related injury on February 6, 2008, claiming she injured her lower back as a result of repetitive "bending, twisting and lifting." Id. ¶ 22. Miss Truong's family physician "directed her" to report the alleged lower back injury to the defendant as work-related. Id. ¶ 26. Prior to this injury, Miss Truong was injured in an automobile accident in 2006, and underwent surgery on her neck. Id. ¶ 21. Following surgery, Miss Truong returned to work with restrictions in December 2007. Id. ¶ 21. As a result of those work restrictions, the defendant allowed her to perform "light duty" work. Id. ¶ 21.

On February 13, 2008, Miss Vo and Miss Truong were both at the defendant's occupational health care provider at the same time for medical appointments related to their alleged work-related injuries. Id. ¶ 26. During the examination, Miss Vo translated between English and Vietnamese for Miss Truong. Id. ¶ 26.

The amended complaint alleges that "Patti Scott, nurse case manager for defendant, and Sherry Mattis, workers' compensation personnel for defendant, published false statements to the examining physician, Dr. Julianne Thomas, falsely accusing Plaintiff Truong of reporting a work injury because 'she was denied a dayshift position.'" Id. ¶ 27. During the physician's examination, Miss Truong revealed for the first time that she had pre-existing back pain and that she had been seeing a chiropractor for that pain for months. The physician, in reliance on these alleged statements, determined that Miss Truong's injury was not work-related. Id. ¶ 28.

The amended complaint further alleges that on February 18, 2008, the defendant falsely accused and suspended both plaintiffs for "falsification of records with intent to deceive the company." Id. ¶ 29. On February 20, 2008, the plaintiffs were terminated. Id. ¶ 30.

The plaintiffs allege that their employment was terminated for "reporting work injuries and claims for workers' compensation coverage," and that the defendant terminated them before it completed its investigation into the plaintiffs' workers' compensation claims. Id. ¶¶ 31, 41.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted examines the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). The factual allegations must be sufficient to make the claim for relief more than just speculative. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). In determining whether to grant a motion to dismiss, a federal court must construe the complaint liberally, accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Id.; see also D.P. Enters. v. Bucks County Cmty. Coll., 725 F.2d 943, 944 (3d Cir. 1984).

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require a plaintiff to plead in detail all of the facts upon which she bases her claim. Conley, 355 U.S. at 47. Rather, the Rules require a "short and plain statement" of the claim that will give the defendant fair notice of the plaintiff's claim and the grounds upon which it rests. Id. The "complaint must allege facts suggestive of [the proscribed] conduct." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 564. Neither "bald assertions" nor "vague and conclusory allegations" are accepted as true. See Morse v. Lower Merion School Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997); Sterling v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transp. Auth., 897 F. Supp. 893 (E.D. Pa. 1995). The claim must contain enough factual matters to suggest the required elements of the claim ...


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