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James Thomas, M.D v. Lehighton Emergency Medical Associates

August 15, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo


Presently before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. 12) filed by Defendants Lehighton Emergency Medical Associates, P.C. ("LEMA") and Palmerton Emergency Medical Associates, P.C. ("PEMA"). Plaintiff James Thomas, M.D., alleges that he was unlawfully terminated from his employment as an Emergency Room Physician at Palmerton Hospital on account of his age, because he had cancer, and due to his race/national origin. Plaintiff also asserts supplemental state law claims. Defendants have moved to dismiss Plaintiff's age discrimination claims (Counts I and II), his race/national origin discrimination claim (Count IV), and his quantum meruit claim (Count

VI). Because Plaintiff has adequately stated claims for age and race/national origin discrimination, Defendants' motion to dismiss Counts I, II, and IV will be denied. However, because Plaintiff fails to adequately state a quantum meruit claim, Count VI of the Amended Complaint will be dismissed.

I. Background

The facts as alleged in the Amended Complaint are as follows: Plaintiff James Thomas, M.D., ("Dr. Thomas") was born on July 17, 1949. (Am. Compl., ¶¶ 1, 16.) Dr. Thomas is an American citizen of Asian origin who is a native of the country of India and who suffers from Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. (Id. at ¶ 48, 63.)

Defendants PEMA and LEMA are business organizations organized under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (Id. at ¶¶ 2-3.) At all relevant times, PEMA and LEMA were joint employers of Plaintiff or the alter ego of each other. (Id. at ¶ 4.)

Dr. Thomas was hired to work for LEMA as an Emergency Room Physician on March 1, 2010. (Id. at ¶ 5.) Pursuant to the terms of a written contract, Dr. Thomas was hired solely to work at the Palmerton Hospital in Carbon County, Pennsylvania. (Id. at ¶¶ 6, 8.) LEMA took over operating and staffing the emergency room at Palmerton Hospital in or about January 2010. (Id. at ¶ 7.) Although the contract was between Dr. Thomas and LEMA, the parties had an arrangement where his paychecks would come from PEMA. (Id. at ¶ 9.)

Despite always receiving positive reviews, Dr. Thomas was terminated by Sharon Penetar on July 27, 2010. (Id. at ¶¶ 10-11.) Ms. Penetar refused to give Dr. Thomas an explanation for his termination. (Id. at ¶ 11.) Yet, during his employment, Dr. Thomas was professional and diligent with an excellent performance and attendance record. (Id. at ¶ 20.)

Prior to his termination, Dr. Thomas complained to his supervisors about a younger white nurse who almost killed a patient. (Id. at ¶ 65.) Defendants objected to an Indian doctor complaining about a white nurse and Dr. Thomas was thereafter terminated. (Id. at ¶¶ 65-66.)

At the time of his termination, Dr. Thomas was known to have Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and was sixty-one (61) years old. (Id. at ¶ 17, 48, 51.) And, at this time, Dr. Thomas was qualified for the Emergency Room Physician position. (Id. at ¶ 23.) After he was terminated, Dr. Thomas was replaced by a substantially younger worker that was not Indian or dark-skinned. (Id. at ¶¶ 23-24, 63.)

As a result of the foregoing events, Dr. Thomas commenced this action against LEMA and PEMA on April 9, 2012. After Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, Dr. Thomas filed an Amended Complaint on May 18, 2012. The Amended Complaint asserts the following claims: violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq. (Counts I and II); violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq., against LEMA (Count III); violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq., against LEMA (Count IV); breach of contract against LEMA (Count V); and quantum meruit against PEMA (Count VI). Now, Defendants seek dismissal of the ADEA claims, the Title VII claim, and the quantum meruit claim. (Doc. 12.) As Defendants' motion has been fully briefed, it is ripe for disposition.

II. Discussion

A. Legal Standard for a 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court's role is limited to determining if a plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence in support of their claims. See Semerenko v. Cendant Corp., 223 F.3d 165, 173 (3d Cir. 2000). The Court does not consider whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail. See id. A defendant bears the burden of ...

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