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Monica Sample v. Keystone Mercy Health Plan

November 5, 2012

MONICA SAMPLE
v.
KEYSTONE MERCY HEALTH PLAN



The opinion of the court was delivered by: O'neill, J.

MEMORANDUM

Now before me is defendant Keystone Mercy Health Plan's motion to dismiss plaintiff Monica Sample's amended complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and/or to strike certain allegations pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2). For the reasons that follow I will deny defendant's motion to dismiss and will grant in part and deny in part its motion to strike.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is an African-American female who was employed by defendant as a durable medical equipment specialist from October 2004 to June 2008, when she was terminated. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 7, 9. Plaintiff contends that defendant claimed she was terminated because she "routinely came into work late" and because she hung up on a caller. Id. ¶ 15, 17. She alleges that the reasons defendant provided for her termination are pretext for discrimination. Id. ¶ 14. Plaintiff asserts that defendant's claims regarding her conduct are false and, even if true, Caucasian employees accused of the same conduct were retained while she was terminated. Id.

¶¶ 15-18. Accordingly, on June 19, 2008 plaintiff filed a complaint against defendant with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging discrimination on the basis of race. Id.

¶ 19. Plaintiff contends that her EEOC complaint was dual filed with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission*fn1 and that defendant received a copy of her EEOC complaint. Id. She alleges that the EEOC issued her a right to sue letter on March 9, 2012 and that defendant received a copy of that letter. Id.

Plaintiff filed the instant action on June 6, 2012. She filed her amended complaint on September 7, 2012. In her amended complaint plaintiff sets forth a claim for unlawful racial discrimination by defendant in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 Pa. Cons. St. § 955 et seq. Id. at ECF p. 1.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a court to dismiss all or part of an action for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Typically, "a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations," though plaintiff's obligation to state the grounds of entitlement to relief "requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . on the assumption that all of the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Id. (citations omitted). The complaint must state "'enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' the necessary element." Wilkerson v. New Media Tech. Charter Sch. Inc., 522 F.3d 315, 321 (3d Cir. 2008), quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. The Court of Appeals has made clear that after Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), "conclusory or 'bare-bones' allegations will no longer survive a motion to dismiss: 'threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.' To prevent dismissal, all civil complaints must now set out 'sufficient factual matter' to show that the claim is facially plausible." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009), quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The Court also set forth a two part-analysis for reviewing motions to dismiss in light of Twombly and Iqbal:

First, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated. The District Court must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions. Second, a District Court must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a "plausible claim for relief."

Id. at 210-11, quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. The Court explained, "a complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief. A complaint has to 'show' such an entitlement with its facts." Id., citing Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234-35 (3d Cir. 2008). "Where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged--but it has not 'show[n]'--'that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) provides that "[t]he court may strike from a pleading . . . any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f). "Partly because of the practical difficulty of deciding cases without a factual record it is well established that striking a pleading should be sparingly used by courts. It is a drastic remedy to be resorted to only when required for the purposes of justice." N. Penn Transfer, Inc. v. Victaulic Co. of Am., 859 F. Supp. 154, 158 (E.D. Pa. 1994) (internal quotation marks omitted). "The Court has considerable discretion in disposing of a motion to strike under Rule 12(f)." DeLa Cruz v. Piccari Press, 521 F. Supp. 2d 424, 428 (E.D. Pa. 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted).

DISCUSSION

I. Exhaustion of ...


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