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Brian Watson v. Blessey Marine Services

November 23, 2011

BRIAN WATSON,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
BLESSEY MARINE SERVICES, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge

ELECTRONICALLY FILED

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This is an action arising under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. ("ADA") and the Pennsylvania Human Rights Act, 43 Pa.C.S.A. § 951 et seq. ("PHRA"). Plaintiff, Brian Watson, alleges Defendant, Blessey Marine Services, Inc., violated the ADA and PHRA primarily by failing to hire Plaintiff because of his record of medical disability and/or because Defendant regarded Plaintiff. Plaintiff seeks injunctive and monetary relief.

Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction. Defendant‟s Motion to Dismiss also seeks dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) claiming the Western District Court of Pennsylvania is not the proper venue. Defendant suggests, as an alternative to dismissal, that this matter be transferred to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Finally, Defendant asserts that at a minimum, Plaintiff‟s PHRA claim should be dismissed because Defendant lacks the requisite number of employees to subject it to a PHRA claim.

Plaintiff, countering, argues Defendant possesses the requisite minimum contacts and suggests this Court‟s exercise of personal jurisdiction would comport with notions of fair play and substantial justice.

For the reasons that follow, Defendant‟s motion will be denied.

I. BACKGROUND

The following material facts are set forth in Plaintiff's Complaint and are accepted as true for purposes of this opinion unless otherwise noted.

Plaintiff, a merchant mariner, is a resident of Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Doc. no. 1, ¶ 3. Defendant is an inland tank barge and towing vessel company with offices in Harahan, Louisiana. Id. at ¶ 4.

In March of 2009, Plaintiff applied for an open riverboat pilot position with Defendant. Id. at ¶ 31. Defendant interviewed Plaintiff twice on the telephone. Id. at ¶ 32. Defendant "flew Plaintiff to its headquarters" in Louisiana for an additional interview and testing. Id. at ¶ 33.

The relevant portions of Plaintiff‟s affidavit indicate: "In early March, 2009, I applied on [Defendant‟s] website for [the] Boat Pilot position. [Defendant‟s] Port Captain Ted Ewing telephoned me in Pennsylvania twice and interviewed me. Mr. Ewing told me that his plan was to place me on the M/V Mitch Jones with Pittsburgh as my hub city." Doc. no. 9-2 at ¶ 10.

"On March 10, 2009, [Defendant] flew me to their headquarters in Harahan, LA, where I was interviewed in person and extended a conditional offer of employment. . . . I completed substantial paperwork at [Defendant‟s] offices, including W-4 forms, direct deposit forms, insurance forms and others." Id. at ¶ 11.

"I was then taken to the offices of [Defendant‟s] medical testing agent Dr. Isabelle Ochsner, M.D. at Pelican State Outpatient Center for medical tests. Id. at ¶ 12 I discussed my prior operation with Dr. Ochsner and told her that I did not have any medical restrictions and had been successfully working as a boat pilot for since my 100% successful surgery. Id. at ¶ 13. Dr. Ochsner placed me on "Medical Hold," and told me I needed another medical release from my neurosurgeon before she would let me work for [Defendant]." Id. at ¶ 14.

"The next morning, [Defendant‟s] Human Resources Manager Reggie Barnes and another official whose name I cannot recall called me to [Defendant‟s] office. . . . Mr. Barnes told me [Defendant] was . . . revoking its offer of employment. Id. at ¶ 15.

II. STANDARD OF ...


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