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Martin Nwoga v. Community Council For Mental Health & Retardation

February 27, 2013

MARTIN NWOGA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMUNITY COUNCIL FOR MENTAL HEALTH & RETARDATION, INC., AND COMMUNITY COUNCIL HEALTH SYSTEMS, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert F. Kelly, Sr. J.

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Plaintiff, Martin Nwoga's, Motion to Dismiss Defendants' Amended Counterclaims Pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 12(b)(1) along with Defendants', Community Council for Mental Health and Retardation and Community Council Health Systems, Inc., Response in Opposition. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion is granted as to counterclaims I, II and III, and denied as to counterclaim IV.

I. BACKGROUND

Defendant, Community Council for Mental Health and Retardation, Inc. ("CCMH") is a business entity based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that provides a wide range of emotional and mental health services to the greater Philadelphia community. (Compl. ¶ 7.) Defendant, Community Council Health Systems, Inc. ("CCHS"), is a business entity that runs, manages, operates, and advertises for CCMH. (Id. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff, Martin Nwoga ("Plaintiff"), is an African male who speaks with a "very apparent accent."*fn1 (Id. ¶ 11.) Plaintiff possesses a doctorate degree in education. (Id. ¶ 12.) There is disagreement between the parties as to who employed Plaintiff, the job title under which he worked, and the length of his employment. Plaintiff asserts that he was employed by both CCMH and CCHS (collectively "Defendants") as a behavior specialist for approximately five years. (Id. ¶ 14.) Defendants contend that Plaintiff was employed solely by CCMH as a behavioral specialist consultant from July 29, 2009, until July 13, 2010. (Doc. 10 ¶¶ 13, 14.) The parties agree that Plaintiff's primary function was to provide care and diagnostic services for children with mental health concerns. (Compl. ¶ 15.) In July 2010, Plaintiff's employment was terminated. (Id. ¶ 32.)

On September 21, 2012, Plaintiff filed a civil action against Defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981 alleging unlawful retaliation. (Id. ¶ 1.) In this action, Plaintiff alleges that he was fired by Defendants in retaliation for racial discrimination complaints lodged by Plaintiff against various employees of Defendants. (Id.)

On December 20, 2012, Defendants filed an Amended Answer with Affirmative Defenses and Counterclaims against Plaintiff. (Doc. 10.) Specifically, Defendants assert the following Counterclaims under Pennsylvania state law: (I) Fraud; (II) Intentional Fraudulent Misrepresentation; (III) Unjust Enrichment; and (IV) Indemnification. (Id.) As these counterclaims are the focus of this Memorandum Opinion, we will set forth Defendants' allegations in greater detail.

Defendants aver that while employed as a behavior specialist consultant by CCMH from July 29, 2009, until July 13, 2010, Plaintiff provided counseling services to youth clients referred by Community Behavioral Healthcare ("CBH"). (Id. at ¶¶ 51-52.) In this capacity, Plaintiff met and counseled youth clients with behavioral problems at school or at their home in what was referred to as an "encounter." (Id. ¶ 53). At the conclusion of each encounter session, Plaintiff was required to have an encounter form signed by the parent or guardian of the client if the encounter took place at the home, or the teacher or other authorized school personnel if the encounter was at the client's school. (Id. ¶ 55.) These encounter forms were utilized to ensure that services had been provided, and to later be processed by CCMH to secure payment from CBH for services rendered. (Id. ¶ 54.)

Defendants allege that after receiving notification from clients that Plaintiff was not providing the services required by his employment, Defendants undertook an investigation into the matter. (Id. at ¶ 56-61.) Plaintiff refused to cooperate with the investigation. (Id.) Defendants further contend that the investigation revealed that Plaintiff "(a) failed to provide services to certain CBH members as required; (b) requested that parents of CBH members sign blank encounter forms without providing services therefore; and (c) that the Plaintiff submitted false encounter forms to Defendant CCMH and CBH." (Id. ¶ 62.) Finally, Defendants state that due to Plaintiff's false and fraudulent conduct, and his refusal to cooperate with the investigation, Plaintiff was discharged from employment on July 13, 2010. (Id. ¶ 69.)

Counterclaims I and II: Fraud and Intentional Fraudulent Misrepresentation Defendants allege counterclaims against Plaintiff for fraud and intentional fraudulent misrepresentation. Due to Plaintiff's false and fraudulent conduct, Defendants assert that CCMH suffered damages in that: (a) it paid Plaintiff for services he never performed; (b) it suffered injury to its reputation; (c) CCMH had to pay CBH $27,477.60 as a result of the fraudulent encounter forms submitted by Plaintiff for which CBH had paid CCMH. (Id. at ¶ 66, 77.) As a result of Plaintiff's alleged fraud, Defendants seek compensatory and punitive damages along with attorney fees, costs and any other relief this Court deems just and reasonable. (Id. at ¶ 71, 82.)

Counterclaim III: Unjust Enrichment

Defendants' contention that Plaintiff illegally received benefits from CCMH (i.e. money) for services that were never provided to their clients forms the basis of its counterclaim for unjust enrichment. (Id. ¶ 84.) Specifically, Defendants state that Plaintiff "accepted and retained such benefits under circumstances that it would be inequitable for the Plaintiff to retain such benefit without payment of value back" to Defendants. (Id. ¶ 86.) Accordingly, Defendants demand compensatory and punitive damages along with attorney fees, costs and any other relief this Court deems just and reasonable. (Id. ¶ 86.)

Counterclaim IV: Indemnification

Due to Plaintiff's conduct, Defendants assert that they were required to reimburse CBH in the amount of $27,477.60. (Id. ¶ 87.) As a result, Defendants seek judgment and indemnification in this amount against Plaintiff. (Id.)

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On September 21, 2012, Plaintiff filed a federal civil action under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 against Defendants alleging unlawful retaliation. (Id. ¶ 1.) Defendants filed an Answer and Affirmative Defenses to the Complaint and Counterclaims on November 19, 2012. (Doc. 8.)

Plaintiff responded with a Motion to Dismiss Defendants' Counterclaims pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). (Doc. 9.) Thereafter, on December 20, 2012, Plaintiff filed an Amended Answer and Affirmative Defenses to the Complaint and Counterclaims. (Doc. 10.) On January 2, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Dismiss Defendants' Amended Counterclaims pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). (Doc. 11.) At this time, we proceed to analyze Plaintiff's Motion.

III. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)

A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint. Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993). Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the defendant bears the burden of demonstrating that the plaintiff has failed to set forth a claim from which relief may be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6); see also Lucas v. City of Philadelphia, No. 11-4376, 2012 WL 1555430, at *2 (E.D. Pa. May 2, 2012) (citing Hedges v. U.S., 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005)). In evaluating a motion to dismiss, the court must view any reasonable ...


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