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Eufrosina Diaconu v. Skyline Transportation

September 18, 2012

EUFROSINA DIACONU, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SKYLINE TRANSPORTATION, JAMES E. COLLINS, WILSON, ELSER, MOSKOWITZ, EDELMAN & DICKER LLP, AND DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Before this Court are Defendant Skyline Transportation's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 7), Defendant Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker's Motion for a More Definite Statement and Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 3), Plaintiff's Response in opposition thereto (Doc. No. 9), Defendant's Reply in further support thereof (Doc. No. 12), Defendant Defense Logistic Agency's Motion to Dismiss All Claims Against the Federal Defendant After Substituting the United States for Its Agency, Defendant Defense Logistics Agency (Doc. No. 31), and Plaintiff's Response in opposition thereto (Doc. No. 33).*fn1 For the reasons set forth in this Memorandum, all motions are granted, except the Motion for a More Definite Statement.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The Court looks to the Plaintiff's Complaint for an account of the events underlying this action, which we accept as true for the purposes of resolving the instant Motions to Dismiss. See Vallies v. Sky Bank, 432 F.3d 493, 494 (3d Cir. 2006). Plaintiff Eufrosina Diaconu ("Plaintiff" or "Diaconu"), filing the present action pro se, worked for Defendant Defense Logistics Agency ("DLA") at its field activity Defense Personnel Support Center in Philadelphia until 1995. (Compl. ¶ 7, Doc. No. 1). During the time that Diaconu worked for DLA, she was exposed to numerous toxic and hazardous chemicals and developed a speech impediment, essential tremors, and endometrial cancer, among other injuries. (Compl. ¶¶ 17, 23, Doc. No. 1).

On November 17, 2005, James E. Collins rear-ended Plaintiff's vehicle while driving on I-87 in New York State. (Compl. ¶ 12, Doc. No. 1). Collins was driving a tractor-trailer owned by Defendant Skyline Transportation. (Compl. ¶¶ 8, 13, Doc. No. 1). During a lawsuit over the collision in the New York State Supreme Court, Defendant Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker ("Wilson Elser") represented Skyline Transportation and James Collins. (Compl. ¶ 10, Doc. No. 1).

The history of the cases Plaintiff has filed prior to this one has been detailed elsewhere. See Eufrosina v. Gates, No. 08-3633, 2009 WL 4122728, at *1-*2 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 24, 2009). The Court will therefore only recite the procedural history that is relevant to the pending motions.*fn2

In 1999, a decision by Judge Weiner dismissed as time barred Plaintiff's claims regarding injuries incurred during her time working for DLA. Eufrosina Diaconu v. Defense Logistics Agency, No. 98-6533, 1999 WL 238954 (E.D. Pa. April 2, 1999). This decision dismissing Plaintiff's claims was upheld by the Third Circuit.*fn3 Eufrosina Diaconu v. Defense Logistics Agency, 33 F. App'x 647 (3d Cir. April 16, 2002).

In 2007, Plaintiff commenced another action seeking relief under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA") after she developed cancer allegedly attributable to her employment with DLA. Eufrosina Diaconu v. Gates, No. 08-3633, 2009 WL 4122728, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 24, 2009). Judge Baylson placed the case in civil suspense while Plaintiff exhausted the necessary administrative remedies. Diaconu v. Secretary of Defense, No. 08-564448, 2009 WL 564448 (E.D. Pa. March 5, 2009). The Tort Claims division for the Department of the Army denied her administrative claims, on the grounds that the Federal Employees' Compensation Act ("FECA") barred her FTCA claims. Eufrosina Diaconu v. Gates, No. 08-3633, 2009 WL 4122728, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 24, 2009). Judge Baylson dismissed her claims, finding that her injuries were covered under FECA, the "exclusive remedy for such injuries." Id. at *3. The Court dismissed the claims without prejudice to her seeking relief under FECA by refiling with the Department of Labor. The Third Circuit affirmed Judge Baylson's decision finding that FECA barred Plaintiff's FTCA claim for her work-related injury. Eufrosina Diaconu v. Secretary of Defense, 10-1912, 2010 WL 3394270, at *2-*3 (3d Cir. Aug. 30 2010).

The Plaintiff filed the Complaint in this case in the Court of Common Pleas on January 9, 2012. Defendant Defense Logistics Agency removed the case to this Court effective February 8, 2012.

II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

In considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the district court must "accept as true the factual allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom." Krantz v. Prudential Invs. Fund Mgmt., 305 F.3d 140, 142 (3d Cir. 2002) (quoting Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996)). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. The plaintiff need not satisfy any "probability" requirement, but must set forth "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unwillingly." Id.

"[A] pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). "When presented with a pro se litigant, [the Court has] a special obligation to construe his complaint liberally." Higgs v. Attorney General of the United States, 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011)(citations omitted). "Thus, even if a pro se plaintiff's claims are not set out in the clearest fashion, the Court is obligated to discern all the possible claims that the Plaintiff may be alleging." Thomas-Warner v. City of Phila., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146029, at *10 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 20, 2011). However, in doing so the Court still determines whether pro se plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts to support the claims divined from the pleadings. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Moreover, "[a]lthough the Court must accept well-pleaded facts as true, it need not credit bald assertions or legal conclusions." In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1429 (3d Cir. 1997).*fn4

III. DISCUSSION

A. Defendant Skyline (Styline) ...


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