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Robert Hodor v. St. Luke's Hospital & Health Network

September 28, 2012

ROBERT HODOR, PLAINTIFF
v.
ST. LUKE'S HOSPITAL & HEALTH NETWORK, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James Knoll Gardner United States District Judge

OPINION

This matter is before the court on the Motion of Defendant to Dismiss Counts III and VI of Amended Complaint, which motion was filed November 18, 2011 ("Motion to Dismiss"). *fn1

Plaintiff's Brief in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Counts III and VI of the Amended Complaint was filed December 9, 2011 ("Plaintiff's Brief").

Count III of the Amended Complaint charges defendant with retaliation (by firing plaintiff) in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Count VI charges defendant with retaliation in violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA").

For the reasons expressed below, defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint is denied, and defendant shall have until October 29, 2012 to file an answer to plaintiff's Amended Complaint.

JURISDICTION

This court has jurisdiction in this matter pursuant to

28 U.S.C. § 1331 because plaintiff's Amended Complaint alleges that defendant violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12213, and thus poses a federal question.

VENUE

Venue is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(1) and

(2) because defendant resides in this judicial district and because a substantial part of the events giving rise to this cause of action occurred in this judicial district.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On July 25, 2011 plaintiff initiated this action by filing a seven-count Complaint against defendant St. Luke's Hospital & Health Network. *fn2

On October 11, 2011 defendant filed a Motion of Defendant to Dismiss Counts III, V and VII of the Complaint, and to Dismiss or Strike Plaintiff's Claim for Punitive Damages in Counts VI and VII of the Complaint. As indicated by the title of this motion, defendant's initial motion to dismiss sought dismissal of Counts III, V, and VII of the Complaint and to dismiss or strike plaintiff's claim for punitive damages under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 Pa.S.C.A. §§ 951-963.

On October 31, 2012 plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. The Amended Complaint removed Count V from the Complaint, which alleged retaliation in violation of the ADA *fn3 .

The Amended Complaint also removed from the Complaint plaintiff's demand for punitive damages in connection with plaintiff's PHRA claims. The filing of plaintiff's Amended Complaint rendered moot defendant's initial motion to dismiss. *fn4

On November 18, 2011 defendant filed the within Motion to Dismiss Counts III and VI of the Amended Complaint. Hence this Opinion.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

A claim may be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion requires the court to examine the sufficiency of the complaint. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45, 78 S.Ct. 99, 102, 2 L.Ed.2d 80, 84 (1957) (abrogated in other respects by Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)).

Generally, in ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court relies on the complaint, attached exhibits, and matters of public record, including other judicial proceedings. Sands v. McCormick, 502 F.3d 263, 268 (3d Cir. 2008).

Except as provided in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9, a complaint is sufficient if it complies with Rule 8(a)(2), which requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."

Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 8(a)(2) "[does] not require heightened fact pleading of specifics, but only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. at 1974, 167 L.Ed.2d at 949. *fn5

In determining whether a plaintiff's complaint is sufficient, the court must "accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210 (quoting Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008)).

Although "conclusory or bare-bones allegations" will not survive a motion to dismiss, Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210, a complaint may not be dismissed "merely because it appears unlikely that the plaintiff can prove those facts or will ultimately prevail on the merits." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 231. Nonetheless, to survive a 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint must provide "enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element[s]." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. at 1965, 167 L.Ed.2d at 940) (internal quotation omitted).

The court is required to conduct a two-part analysis when considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. First, the factual matters averred in the complaint, and any attached exhibits, should be separated from legal conclusions asserted therein. Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210. Any facts pled must be taken as true, and any legal conclusions asserted may be disregarded. Id. at 210-211.

Second, the court must determine whether those factual matters averred are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a "plausible claim for relief." Id. at 211 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, 129 S.Ct. at 1950, 178 L.Ed.2d at 884).

Ultimately, this two-part analysis is "context-specific" and requires the court to draw on "its judicial experience and common sense" to determine if the facts pled in the complaint have "nudged [plaintiff's] claims" over the ...


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