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Michael W. Mccarthy v. Luzerne County

July 1, 2011

MICHAEL W. MCCARTHY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LUZERNE COUNTY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (judge Caputo)

MEMORANDUM

The defendant moves to dismiss Counts III, IV, and V of the complaint for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Doc. 3.) For the reasons explained below, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background*fn1

In February of 2007, Michael McCarthy sent his resume to Douglas Richards, the Human Resources Director for Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. At that time, McCarthy was employed as a Group Treatment Leader Supervisor at a correctional facility in Florida.

On March 9, 2008, after having traveled from Florida, McCarthy met with Richards at the Luzerne County Courthouse. They discussed McCarthy's work experience and the next training session for correctional officers in Luzerne County. During this meeting, McCarthy told Richards that he had a defibrillator that was implanted for precautionary medical purposes. He further noted that the defibrillator did not affect his job performance in any way and that he would be able to perform any task necessary as a correctional officer or trainee.

In April of 2007, Richards told McCarthy that he would be included in the next correctional officer training class. In May, Richards told McCarthy that the training class was scheduled for June.

In reliance on this conversation, McCarthy resigned from his job in Florida. In late May, he moved to Pennsylvania based on Richards' offer of employment. On July 11, Richards informed McCarthy that the June training class was postponed. The training class was rescheduled for July.

In connection with McCarthy's placement in this class, he was interviewed by Major James Larson on July 6. During this interview, McCarthy relayed that he had a defibrillator and could fully perform the job duties of a correctional officer. Larson raised no objections or concerns to McCarthy working for Luzerne County, but asked McCarthy to fill out a new application because his previous application was lost by Luzerne County staff.

On July 23, McCarthy accepted employment from Luzerne County as a corrections officer trainee and was enrolled in a training class. In response to questions posed by the training staff, McCarthy explained again that his defibrillator would not inhibit his performance during training. At the time he gave this explanation, the staff did not object to McCarthy continuing to work for Luzerne County. The staff continued to express concern, however, and McCarthy continued to reiterate that his defibrillator did not pose any risk.

On July 25, during the training class, Captain Frank Handley did not allow McCarthy to participate in the 1/2 mile qualifying run, citing liability concerns and the necessity for a doctor's note. McCarthy tried to allay the captain's concerns, but to no avail. The captain would not allow McCarthy to participate in the run, and also refused to allow him to participate in a lifting qualification and pepper spray qualification that were part of the training class.

Although McCarthy was performing well in the training class, he was asked to obtain a doctor's note regarding his medical condition. McCarthy informed the instructor who requested the doctor's note that he could probably present a note on July 30 or 31 from his long-term treating physician, Dr. Kerrigan.

On July 27, Captain Handley told McCarthy that he and the warden were concerned about McCarthy's physical condition and asked if McCarthy could take a hit from a Taser. McCarthy responded that he did not know. In light of this answer, Captain Handley told him that "due to liability concerns, the Warden and I don't see any reason for you to continue with your training since you would be unable to pass the Taser qualifying [test] in Elizabethtown" and that "it's not worth training staff time and taxpayer's money or your time to continue, only to be unable to get certified in Elizabethtown."

Then, the captain terminated McCarthy's training and employment without waiting to receive the doctor's note. McCarthy was able to pass all the required qualifications and has since done so. Even after providing medical documentation, McCarthy was removed and excluded from a trainee list for February 2008. No explanation for this exclusion was given, and McCarthy was rebuffed when he tried to gain more information.

McCarthy filed a five-count complaint against Luzerne County, bringing claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, and state common law claims. The county moves to dismiss McCarthy's fraud, breach of contract, and ...


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