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Christa Hayburn v. City of Philadelphia et al

August 7, 2012

CHRISTA HAYBURN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION

August ___, 2012

Presently before the Court is Defendants the City of Philadelphia ("the City"), Carol Madden ("Madden"), Charles Ramsey ("Ramsey"), Richard Ross ("Ross"), Shawn Trush ("Trush"), Carol O'Neill, ("O'Neill"), Daniel Bartlett ("Bartlett"), and Brad Christy's ("Christy") Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Doc. 11). Upon consideration of Defendants' motion with exhibits, this Court will grant Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a white female police officer for the City of Philadelphia. She was injured on the job on September 12, 2006, which caused her to be removed from duty. (Compl. ¶¶ 17, 28-29, 31.) She then applied for and received, benefits under the Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act. (Compl. ¶ 30.) 53 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 637 (West).*fn1

On February 15, 2008, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the police department's Equal Employment Office for sex discrimination and sexual assault against a male co-employee and supervisor, who allegedly raped Plaintiff. (Compl. ¶ 33.) After Plaintiff filed this internal complaint, the Moving Defendants commenced surveillance of Plaintiff on April 28, 2008. Subsequently, on May 27, 2008, the Moving Defendants filed a petition to terminate Plaintiff's Heart and Lung benefits. (Compl. ¶ 34, 38.) While defending against Defendants' attempts to terminate her benefits, Plaintiff petitioned for penalties for the wrongful denial of benefits, failure to list all injuries, and to amend the official description of injuries resulting from her 2006 injury. (Compl. ¶ 40.)

On July 29, 2008, City Panel Treating Doctors informed Defendants the City, Madden, Ramsey, Compservices Inc., Barbara, and Does that Plaintiff had reached a maximum medical improvement ("MMI") and that her treatments were actually making her worse, not better. (Compl. ¶ 32, 52.) Her injury of September 12, 2006 prevented her from qualifying for use of a firearm, which is required by law to work as a police officer. (Compl. ¶ 54.) In December 2008, the City held a hearing regarding its petition to terminate Plaintiff's benefits. (Compl. ¶ 45.)

The Moving Defendants subsequently stopped Plaintiff's benefits in December 2009, February 2011, and September 2011, which she avers was in violation of her due process rights. (Compl. ¶ 54.) After the interruption of her benefits, Plaintiff was ordered to return to work, and she claims that this was without notice to her. (Compl. ¶ 58.)

Plaintiff was given a hearing regarding her Heart and Lung benefits in November 2010, and again on February 3, 2011. (Compl. ¶ 100.) After Plaintiff's testimony at the November 2010 hearing, Plaintiff claims that Moving Defendants furthered their agreement to pursue an Internal Affairs investigation, which resulted in disciplinary action against Plaintiff. (Compl. ¶¶ 60-64.) Defendants Bartlett, Christy, and Trush explained to Plaintiff that the investigation was due to a household internet retail corporation, which Plaintiff claims is actually run by her husband. (Compl. ¶ 75.) Plaintiff was disciplined by Defendants on August 26, 2011, and as a result, she faces termination or loss of wages and benefits. (Compl. ¶¶ 73-74.) Her benefits were then completely ended on September 1, 2011. (Compl. ¶ 79.)

Plaintiff dual filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission ("PHRC") on or about March 31, 2009, alleging that Defendants actions in petitioning to stop Plaintiff's benefits were in retaliation against Plaintiff for her complaint to the police department's internal Equal Employment Opportunity Unit ("EEO") in February 2008 concerning sexual assault and sex discrimination suffered from male co-worker.*fn2 (Compl. ¶ 47.) Plaintiff was issued a right-to-sue letter by the PHRC on July 24, 2010, and from the EEOC on October 14, 2011.*fn3 (Compl. ¶ 81.)

Plaintiff further claims that Defendant Ramsey subjected her and other female employees to discrimination in that three white females were terminated for lying or for not performing their duties, while no such action was taken against male employees who had allegedly committed the same acts. (Compl. ¶¶ 135-37.) Plaintiff further claims that Ramsey himself was accused of lying under oath in a federal action*fn4 in Washington, D.C., as well as to his employers, yet he has not subjected himself to any discipline. (Compl. ¶ 138.)

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court is required to accept as true all allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and to view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 (3d Cir. 1994). A complaint should be dismissed only if the alleged facts, taken as true, fail to state a claim. See In re Warfarin Sodium Antitrust Litig., 214 F.3d 395, 397-98 (3d Cir. 2000). The question is whether the claimant can prove any set of facts consistent with his or her allegations that will entitle him or her to relief, not whether that person will ultimately prevail. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); Semerenko v. Cendant Corp., 223 F.3d 165, 173 (3d Cir. 2000).

While a court will accept well-pled allegations as true for the purposes of the motion, it will not accept bald assertions, unsupported conclusions, unwarranted inferences, or sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations. Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). The United States Supreme Court has recognized that "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (alteration in original). In Twombly, the Court made clear that it would not require a "heightened fact pleading of specifics," but only "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. A "pleader is required to 'set forth sufficient information to outline the elements of his claim or to permit inferences to be drawn that these elements exist.'" Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993) (citation omitted).

In 2009, the United States Supreme Court revisited the requirements for surviving a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937 (2009). In Iqbal, the Court made clear that "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements [will] not suffice" to defeat a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Id. at 1949. "[O]nly a ...


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