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Mark Jackson v. the Dow Chemical Company; Rohm and Haas Company; Rohm and

September 28, 2012

MARK JACKSON, PLAINTIFF
v.
THE DOW CHEMICAL COMPANY; ROHM AND HAAS COMPANY; ROHM AND HAAS COMPANY BENEFITS ADMINISTRATIVE COMMITTEE (BAC; LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY; RAJ L. GUPTA; PIERRE R. BRONDEAU; JAQUES M. CROISETTIER; ROBERT A. LONERGAN, ESQUIRE; ELLEN FRIEDELL, ESQUIRE; ROYCE WARRICK, ESQUIRE; JANE GREENETZ; DEANNA MAY; CYNTHIA MAZER; RICHARD P. QUINLAN, ESQUIRE; SEAN B. MCSWEENEY, ESQUIRE; MICHAEL MILLER, ESQUIRE; NANCY MAYO; LORI HAMLIN; AND JOHN DOE NOS. 1-15, DEFENDANTS



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

OPINION

This matter is before the court on three motions to dismiss. For the reasons expressed in this Opinion, I grant the Certain Defendants' Motion to Dismiss; and I grant the Motion of Defendants Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Lori Hamlin, Nancy May, Richard P. Quinlan, Sean B. McSweeney and Michael Miller to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint. Accordingly, I dismiss plaintiff's claims with prejudice against all defendants. I dismiss as moot Defendant Jacques Croisetiere's Motion to Dismiss.

JURISDICTION

Jurisdiction is proper in this court because plaintiff's complaint contains causes of action arising under federal law. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Plaintiff's pendent state-law claims are within this court's supplemental jurisdiction because they form part of the same case or controversy. Id. § 1367(a).

VENUE

Venue is proper in this court because a substantial part of the events giving rise to plaintiff's claims occurred in this judicial district. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2). *fn1

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Motions to Dismiss On November 2, 2010 plaintiff pro se filed a Complaint in this matter in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware in case number 10-cv-00938. *fn2

On January 28, 2011 Certain Defendants' Motion to Dismiss was filed on behalf of defendants The Dow Chemical Company; Rohm and Haas Company; Raj L. Gupta; Pierre R. Brondeau; Jacques M. Croisettiere; Robert A. Lonergan, Esquire; Ellen Friedell, Esquire; Royce Warrick, Esquire; Jane Greenetz; Deanna May; and Cynthia Mazer ("the Rohm and Haas defendants").*fn3

Also on January 28, 2011, the Motion of Defendants Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Lori Hamlin, Nancy May, Richard P. Quinlan, Sean B. McSweeney and Michael Miller to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint was filed. *fn4 I refer to this group of defendants as the "Liberty Mutual defendants". On February 14, 2011 plaintiff filed responses in opposition to the Rohm and Haas defendants' motion to dismiss *fn5 and to the Liberty Mutual defendants' motion to dismiss. *fn6

On February 22, 2011 the Liberty Mutual defendants filed a reply brief in support of their motion to dismiss. *fn7 On February 25, 2011 the Rohm and Haas defendants filed a reply brief in support of their motion to dismiss. *fn8

On October 24, 2011, after the transfer of venue to this court, defendant Jacques Croisetiere joined the Certain Defendants' Motion to Dismiss filed on January 28, 2011. *fn9

Therefore, every defendant that has appeared in this action is seeking dismissal pursuant to the within motions to dismiss. *fn10

Other Pending Motions While the action was pending in the District of Delaware, plaintiff moved for leave to file surreply briefs and a in support of his opposition to the various motions to dismiss. *fn11

Both the Liberty Mutual defendants and the Rohm and Haas defendants opposed plaintiff's request. *fn12

Although the issues presented in both the Rohm and Haas defendants and the Liberty Mutual defendants' motions to dismiss have been extensively briefed, I grant plaintiff's motion for leave to file supplemental briefing in support of its opposition to the motions to dismiss. Accordingly, I have considered plaintiff's surreply briefs in the adjudication of the Rohm and Haas defendants and Liberty Mutual defendants' motions to dismiss. *fn13

After the case was transferred to this district, it was assigned to former United States District Senior Judge Louis H. Pollak, who in turn ordered that certain matters of pretrial management be handled by United States Magistrate Judge M. Faith Angell. *fn14

On October 26, 2011, Judge Angell stayed the case pending resolution of the motions to dismiss. *fn15 On October 27, 2011 plaintiff filed an objection to Judge Angell's stay of discovery. *fn16 The defendants filed responses to plaintiff's objections. *fn17 Plaintiff's objections to the stay remain pending.

On May 31, 2012 plaintiff filed a motion to lift the stay. *fn18 The defendants again opposed the requested relief. *fn19 On June 21, 2012 plaintiff sought leave to file a reply memorandum in support of his motion to lift the stay. *fn20 Both plaintiff's motion to lift the stay and his motion for leave to file a reply remain pending.

In addition, on March 22, 2012, plaintiff requested an entry of default against the Rohm and Haas Company Benefits Administrative Committee. *fn21 The Clerk has taken no action in regard to this request.

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. *fn22

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 line from "[merely] conceivable [or possible] to plausible."

Iqbal,556 U.S. at 680, 129 S.Ct. at 1950-1951, 178 L.Ed.2d at 884-885 (internal quotations omitted).

A well-pleaded complaint may not be dismissed simply because "it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable, and that a recovery is very remote and unlikely." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. at 1965, 167 L.Ed.2d at 940-941.

FACTS Based upon the averments in plaintiff's Complaint, attached exhibits, and matters of public record, including other judicial proceedings, ...


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