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Duane Miller v. Keystone Blind Association/Tpm

December 19, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Mitchell


Plaintiff, Duane Miller, proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action, alleging that his employer, Keystone Blind Association/TPM, illegally demoted him based on his race (African-American) on August 23, 2010, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-17 (Title VII).

Presently before this Court for disposition is a motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint, or in the alternative, for a more definite statement, brought by the Defendant. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be denied.

Facts The Amended Complaint alleges as follows:

In October of 2009 the Lead Attendant/Site Supervisor position was open. I ask[ed] Gary Holder (supervisor) for the position and he said he was going to bring someone in from the outside. About a week later he made Leon a white employee that‟s not from the outside, the Lead Attendant/Site Supervisor and pass[ed] me over and I have more seniority than him, subsequently he quit and they still didn‟t ask me, when I found out I call[ed] the office and ask[ed] them. When I finally was made the Lead Attendant/Site Supervisor I went to a meeting and I was the only black employee with any [authority] out of 25 employees at the meeting.

I went through a 90 day probation period and went pass[ed] with flying colors. I had never been wrote-up before, until the supervisor went on vacation. In August, Evelyn Kurdupski (manager) wrote me up for eating a bag of potatoe chips. This is ridiculous. Evelyn is [racist] and made racial comment about how I [won‟t] move up the ladder because I‟m black and how white employees don‟t have to do [their] job right because [they‟re] white.

I was wrote-up on time and got demoted by Evelyn (manager) who can‟t demote [anyone], Judy Rauso (director) cover[ed] up the fact that Evelyn can‟t demote [anybody] and this is [an] illegal demotion they don‟t want black employees to have any [authoritative] position. This is a tax funded contracts, all races of people deserve a [fair] chance, but [there are] only white employees with [authority].

In their EEOC report their findings are misrepresented, distorted, only hearsay, no facts, documents with known dates, deceptive tactics, not following their manual with known disciplinary procedure documents. The state discrimination law is every[one] should be treated fairly and equal. This is a violation of my civil rights in violation of Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Am. Compl. at 1.)*fn1 Attached to the Amended Complaint are a copy of Defendant‟s Position Statement Response to the Charge, a report of employment data regarding the racial breakdown of Keystone‟s employees, and a copy of Keystone‟s organizational chart.

Procedural History

Plaintiff filed an initial complaint on July 6, 2011. It was only one page long and it asserted that on August 23, 2010, he was demoted from lead attendant/site supervisor to the position of attendant by Evelyn Kurdupski, based on his race. On July 26, 2011, an order was entered (ECF No. 3) directing Plaintiff to file an amended complaint in conformance with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, including relevant EEOC findings and documents, by August 9, 2011. On August 4, 2011, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint, as quoted above (ECF No. 4). On October 19, 2011, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss or for more definite statement (ECF No. 12). On December 7, 2011, Plaintiff filed a response to the motion (ECF No. 20). On December 14, 2011, Defendant filed a reply brief, in which it asserted that Plaintiff‟s response does not cure the deficiencies in the Amended Complaint (ECF No. 21).

Standard of Review

The Supreme Court recently issued two decisions that pertain to the standard of review for a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The Court held that a complaint must include factual allegations that "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)). "[W]ithout some factual allegation in the complaint, a claimant cannot satisfy the requirement that he or she provide not only "fair notice‟ but also the "grounds‟ on which the claim rests." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008). In determining whether a plaintiff has met this standard, a court must reject legal conclusions unsupported by factual allegations, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements;" "labels and conclusions;" and ""naked assertion[s]‟ devoid of "further factual enhancement.‟" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citations omitted). Mere "possibilities" of misconduct are insufficient. Id. at 1949-50. District courts are required to engage in a two part inquiry:

First, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated. The District Court must accept all of the complaint‟s well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions. . . . Second, a District Court must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show the plaintiff has a "plausible claim for relief.". . . . In other words, a complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff‟s entitlement to relief. A complaint has to "show" such an entitlement with its facts.

Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted). In Fowler, the court held that a complaint that alleged that the plaintiff was injured at work, that there was an opening for a position that the employer never contacted her about and that the employee believed this action was based on her ...

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