United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
WILLIAM F. MOHL, Plaintiff,
COUNTY OF LEBANON, et al., Defendants
For William Mohl, Plaintiff: Lisa Matukaitis, Matukaitis Law LLC, Harrisburg, PA.
For County of Lebanon, Michael DeLeo, Individually, Desiree J. Nguyen, Individually, Melissa Light, Individually, Defendants: Alex M. Hvizda, Charles E. Wasilefski, Peters & Wasilefski, Harrisburg, PA.
For Mediator, Mediator: Matthew Chabal, III, James, Smith, Dietterick & Connelly LLP, Hershey, PA.
Hon. John E. Jones III.
Pending before the Court in this employment discrimination action is the Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. (Doc. 41). The Motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for our review. (Docs. 42, 44, 45). For the reasons that follow, we will grant the said Motion, as more fully articulated herein, and dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (doc. 23) with prejudice.
I. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides " [a]fter the pleadings are closed--but early enough not to delay trial--a party may move for judgment on the pleadings." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). When, as here, the basis of the moving party's Rule 12(c) motion is that the plaintiff has allegedly failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the motion is properly analyzed under the same standard of review applicable to Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss. See Revell v. Port Authority, 598 F.3d 128, 134 (3d Cir. 2010) (" A motion for judgment on the pleadings based on the defense that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim is analyzed under the same standards that apply to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion." ).
In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, courts " accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Pinker v. Roche Holdings, Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002)). In resolving a motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court generally should consider only the allegations in the complaint, as well as " documents that are attached or submitted with the complaint, . . . and any matters incorporated by reference or integral to the claim, items subject to judicial notice, matters of public record, orders, [and] items appearing in the record of the case." Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2006).
A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the sufficiency of the complaint against the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a). Rule 8(a)(2) requires that a complaint contain 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 upon which it rests." Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)). While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss need not contain detailed factual allegations, it must contain " sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). To survive a motion to dismiss, a civil plaintiff must allege facts that " raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . ." Victaulic Co. v. Tieman, 499 F.3d 227, 235 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Accordingly, to satisfy the plausibility standard, the complaint must indicate that defendant's liability is more than a " sheer possibility." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. " Where a complaint pleads facts that are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it 'stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
Under the two-pronged approach articulated in Twombly and later expounded upon and formalized in Iqbal, a district court must first identify all factual allegations that constitute nothing more than
" legal conclusions" or " naked assertions." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557. Such allegations are " not entitled to the assumption of truth" and must be disregarded for purposes of resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950. Next, the district court must identify " the 'nub' of the . . . complaint -- the well-pleaded, nonconclusory factual allegation[s]." Id. Taking these allegations as true, the district judge must then ...