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Darrell Molinari v. Consol Energy Inc

November 27, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge



I. Introduction

On July 31, 2012, Plaintiff Darrell Molinari ("Plaintiff") filed suit, in this Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1337, and 2201 against Defendants Consol Energy, Inc. ("Consol"), GMS Mine Repair & Maintenance, Inc. ("GMS"), Select Medical Corporation ("Select Medical"), and Gunther Nash, Inc. ("Gunther Nash") . Doc. No. 1.*fn1 Following Defendants' Motions to Dismiss, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's Complaint in its entirety without prejudice to file an Amended Complaint. Doc. Nos. 55 and 56.*fn2

On November 2, 2012, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint alleging a violation of the Sherman Act against Defendants Consol and Select Medical (Count I); and seeking declaratory judgment against those same Defendants (Count II). Doc. No. 57. On November 9, 2012, Defendants Consol and Select Medical moved this Court, in separate renewed Motions to Dismiss, to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint in its entirety. Doc. Nos. 58 and 61.

After careful consideration of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 57), Defendant Consol's Renewed Motion to Dismiss and Brief in support thereof (Doc. Nos. 58, 59), Defendant Select Medical's Renewed Motion to Dismiss and Brief in support thereof (Doc. Nos. 61, 63), and Plaintiff's Response in Opposition and Brief in support thereof (Doc. Nos. 64, 65), the Court will GRANT Consol and Select Medical's Motions to Dismiss (Doc. Nos. 58 and 61) and will DISMISS the Amended Complaint.

II. Factual Background

When reviewing a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court accepts all factual allegations in the Amended Complaint as true and draws all reasonable inferences in Plaintiff's favor. See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). Accepting Plaintiff's factual allegation as true solely for the purposes of this Memorandum Opinion, the facts of this case are as follows:

Plaintiff was employed by Select Medical from 1999-2002 and then returned to their employ in 2003. Doc. No. 57, ¶ 9. Plaintiff did not execute a non-compete agreement, non-solicitation agreement, or any other agreement with a restrictive employment covenant with any entity. Id. at ¶ 13.

Select Physical Therapy Network Services ("Select Physical Therapy"), which is part of Select Medical's Outpatient Division, has an agreement with Consol that states, in pertinent part:

During the initial term and any renewal terms of this contract, and for a period of eighteen (18) months after the expiration or earlier termination of this contract, [Consol] covenants and agrees that it will not, directly or indirectly, without the express written consent of [Select Physical Therapy] (which consent may be withheld in [Select Physical Therapy]'s sole discretion for any reason), solicit, contract, engage, hire or employ any person who is, or at any time was, an employee of [Select Physical Therapy].

Id. at ¶¶ 10-11 ("the Agreement").

In or around March 2011, Plaintiff applied for a position with GMS as safety coordinator at Consol's Bailey Mine. Id. at ¶ 14. After Plaintiff applied, Dennis Ewedosh, an employee of Consol, and Sean Miller, an employee of Select Medical, met with Jeff Giacobi, an employee of GMS, and persuaded the company not to hire Plaintiff because of the Agreement. Id. at ¶ 15. Select Medical and GMS are competitors for Consol's business and in the global labor market. Id. at ¶ 16.

In fall 2011, Plaintiff resigned from Select Medical to take a position with Gunther Nash, through a third party administrator, CLP Resources, Inc. Id. at ¶ 17. Prior to Plaintiff commencing his employment at Gunther Nash, Consol and/or Select Medical informed Gunther Nash of the Agreement in an attempt to prevent the company from hiring Plaintiff. Id. at ¶ 19. Gunther Nash was not persuaded that the Agreement applied to it and sent Plaintiff to act as the Safety Coordinator for Consol's Enlow Fork Mine, which was contracted to Gunther Nash by Consol. Id. at ¶¶ 20-22. Consol and Select Medical contend that Consol "indirectly" contracted with, engaged, or hired Plaintiff when Gunther Nash assigned Plaintiff to the Enlow Fork Mine. Id. at ¶ 24.

In late March or early April 2012, Consol contacted Gunther Nash to inform it that it was "required by Consol to let [Plaintiff] go" because of the Agreement. Id. at ¶ 25. Consol threatened to terminate the Enlow Contract if Gunther Nash did not comply with Consol's request. Id. Nonetheless, Plaintiff was employed as the Safety Coordinator with Gunther Nash from September 26, 2011, until April 2012, at which time Gunther Nash terminated him because of the Agreement. Id. at ¶ 23.

Other employees have been denied employment because of the Agreement. Specifically, GMS withdrew an oral offer of employment due to the Agreement and GMS terminated a former Select Medical employee because of the Agreement. Id. at ¶¶ 26-31.

III. Standard of Review

In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, Federal Courts require notice pleading, as opposed to the heightened standard of fact pleading. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) requires only " 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds on which it rests.'" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).

Building upon the landmark United States Supreme Court decisions in Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit explained that a District Court must undertake the following three steps to determine the sufficiency of a complaint:

First, the court must "tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim." Second, the court should identify allegations that, "because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Third, "whe[n] there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief." This means that our inquiry is normally broken into three parts: (1) identifying the elements of the claim, (2) reviewing the Complaint to strike conclusory allegations, and then (3) looking ...

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