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Marion O. Kelly v. Dennis Bloom; Pocono Mountain Charter School

February 9, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Munley


Before the court for disposition are the defendants' motions to dismiss the complaint. (Docs. 10, 15). The motions have been fully briefed and are ripe for disposition. For the following reasons, defendants' motions will be granted in part and denied in part.


In the 2010-11 academic year, plaintiff served as the Director of Operations for Pocono Mountain Charter School, Inc. (hereafter "Pocono Charter"). (Compl. ¶ 8 (Doc. 1)). A "Teacher Employment Agreement" governs the terms and conditions of her employment as Director.*fn2 (Id.)

For several years, Defendant Dennis Bloom (hereafter "Bloom") acted as the Chief Executive Officer (hereafter "CEO") of Pocono Charter. (Id. ¶ 7). In December 2010, Bloom approached plaintiff and informed her of his plan to resign. (Id. ¶ 10). Bloom offered plaintiff the CEO position subject to ratification by Pocono Charter's Board of Trustees (hereafter "Trustees"). (Id.) Plaintiff accepted.

Plaintiff alleges Pocono Mountain School District initiated an administrative action against Pocono Charter seeking revocation of its charter. (Id. ¶ 11). One of the primary issues raised by the School District was the dual role Defendant Bloom played as CEO of Pocono Charter and President of Shawnee Tabernacle Church (hereafter "Shawnee"). Plaintiff claims that the School District was concerned about the muddling of rights and responsibilities between the two entities. (Id.) Plaintiff asserts that the administrative action prompted Bloom's resignation and plaintiff's possible appointment as CEO. (Id. ¶¶ 11-12).

In January 2011, the Trustees were presented with plaintiff's contract at a board meeting and in February 2011 at an executive committee meeting. (Id. ¶ 15). Plaintiff claims Defendant Bloom induced the Trustees to "table" discussions. (Id.) Despite not yet having a ratified contract, plaintiff began fulfilling the duties of CEO. Plaintiff's contract as Director of Operations was not terminated or modified. (Id. ¶ 13). Plaintiff's salary increased from $70,000 to $92,500. (Id.) Immediately prior to Defendant Bloom's resignation as CEO he received in excess of $150,000 compensation. (Id. ¶ 14).

Defendant Bloom interfered with plaintiff's duties as CEO. (Id. ¶ 16). Plaintiff claims Defendant Bloom expected plaintiff would act as a figurehead CEO while he continued to make all decisions concerning Pocono Charter's operations. (Id.) In January 2011, plaintiff insisted that Bloom's wife's office at Pocono Charter be used by the school to facilitate an upcoming Federal Title I Audit. (Id. ¶ 17). Bloom informed plaintiff that his office, his wife's office and the adjoining suite could not be used by the school, even though the office spaces are included in the school's property lease. (Id.) Plaintiff claims neither Bloom, nor Mrs. Bloom, held any position as employee, officer or trustee of Pocono Charter at that time. (Id.)

Several other office disputes occurred between plaintiff and Bloom involving Bloom's use of the school vehicle, snow clearing and advance rent. (Id. ¶ 18). Plaintiff alleges these disputes prompted Bloom to conspire with the Trustees in failing to ratify plaintiff's appointment as CEO. (Id.) Plaintiff's contract as CEO was never ratified. On February 14, 2011, the Trustees terminated plaintiff's employment with Pocono Charter. (Id.)

On May 13, 2011, plaintiff filed the instant complaint. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff names the following defendants: Pocono Charter; the Board of Trustees, as members and individually; Dennis Bloom; and Shawnee Tabernacle Church. Among the ten counts in her complaint, plaintiff asserts four causes of action: (1) violation of the Equal Pay Act (Count I); (2) breach of employment contract (Count II); (3) intentional interference with plaintiff's existing contract as Director of Operations (Count III, IV, V, VI); and (4) intentional inference with plaintiff's prospective contract as CEO (Count VII, VIII, IX, X).

Plaintiff seeks her unpaid wages, liquidated damages, reasonable attorney's fees and costs from Pocono Charter. (Compl. ¶ 20 (Doc. 1)). She asserts $24,230.79 plus interest and costs in lost compensation as Director of Operations. (Id. ¶ 21). Plaintiff also seeks compensatory damages against Pocono Charter, Trustees, Bloom and Shawnee.(Id. ¶¶ 23-30).

On July 13, 2011, Shawnee filed a motion to dismiss.*fn3 (Doc. 10). Pocono Charter, the Trustees and Bloom (collectively the "Pocono Charter Defendants") filed a separate motion to dismiss on July 25, 2011. (Doc. 15). After the parties briefed the issues, the court held oral argument, bringing the case to its present posture.


As this case is brought pursuant to the Equal Pay Act provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1), this court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.").This court has supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) ("[I]n any civil action of which the district courts have original jurisdiction, the district courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution.").

Legal Standard

A 12(b)(6) motion tests the sufficiency of the complaint's allegations. Granting the motion is appropriate if, accepting as true all the facts alleged in the complaint, the plaintiff has not pleaded "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," or put another way, "nudged [his or her] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The Third Circuit interprets Twombly to require the plaintiff to describe "enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of" each necessary element of the claims alleged in the complaint. Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Moreover, the plaintiff must allege facts that "justify moving the case beyond the pleadings to the next stage of litigation." Id. at 234-35.

In relation to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), the complaint need only provide "'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests . . . . " Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted). "[T]he factual detail in a complaint [cannot be] so undeveloped that it does not provide a defendant the type of notice of claim which is contemplated by Rule 8." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 232 (citation omitted). "Rule 8(a)(2) requires a 'showing' rather than a blanket assertion of an entitlement to relief." Id.

The issue is whether the facts alleged in the complaint, if true, support a claim upon which relief can be granted. In deciding a 12(b)(6) motion, the court must accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and give the pleader the benefit of all reasonable inferences that can fairly be drawn therefrom. Kanter v. Barella, 489 F.3d 170, 177 (3d Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). However, "we are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949-50 (2009) (internal quotations omitted).

To decide a motion to dismiss, a court must consider only the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record and documents that form the basis of a claim. See Mayer v. Belichick, 605 F.3d 223, 230 (3d Cir. 2010); In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997).


The Pocono Charter Defendants and Defendant Shawnee filed separate motions to dismiss challenging the claims asserted in the complaint. The court will address ...

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