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Houser v. Donahoe

United States District Court, Third Circuit

December 27, 2013



CATHY BISSOON, District Judge.

For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 11) will be granted.


This is the second lawsuit brought by Plaintiff in this Court regarding his employment with the Postal Service, and his eventual termination therefrom. Plaintiff brought his first suit in February 2009, alleging, in relevant part, that Defendant discriminated and retaliation against him based on medical conditions/injuries, and that Defendant failed to accommodate his physical restrictions. See Compl. in Civil Action No. 09-180 (W.D. Pa.) (Bissoon, M.J., presiding by consent of parties) (at times, "the first lawsuit" or "the prior lawsuit"); see also Order dated May 21, 2010 (Doc. 17 in Civil Action No. 09-180) at 2. Plaintiff was still an employee when the first action was filed, and the lawsuit focused on Defendant's handling of two on-the-job injuries purportedly sustained by Plaintiff. See Doc. 17 in 09-180 at 2.

Specifically, Plaintiff suffered a knee injury in August 2007, and he took time off of work to have knee surgery and to recover. See generally Order dated May 9, 2011 (Doc. 45 in 09-180) at 2-3. Thereafter, Plaintiff sporadically was approved for, and assigned, limited duty work (allegedly including functions he could not physically perform), until his doctor cleared him in April 2008 to perform full-duty mail delivery. Id. at 3-4. Plaintiff claimed that, just days after returning to full duty, he suffered a back injury. Id. at 4. Plaintiff remained employed with Defendant after suffering the back injury, but was terminated in June 2009 for "willful misconduct" and violations of work rules. See Doc. 21-1 in 09-180 at pgs. 3-4 of 12; see also Doc. 7 in 12-1024 at ΒΆ 4. Although Plaintiff's termination occurred only four months after the filing of his first lawsuit, and nearly two years before that case was resolved in Defendant's favor, Plaintiff did not amend his pleadings to allege wrongful termination.

In the first action, Defendant sought dismissal of a number of Plaintiff's claims and theories, most of which had been inferred by Defense counsel and the Court based on conclusory statements in the pleadings and Plaintiff's opposition papers. See, e.g., Compl. in 09-180 and Pl.'s Mot. for Extension (Doc. 15 in 09-180) (identifying, for first time, statutes under which Plaintiff purportedly sought relief). The Court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss regarding Plaintiff's claims of age discrimination, retaliation and "slander, " but allowed Plaintiff to proceed under the Rehabilitation Act. See Doc. 17 in 09-180 at 4-9 (dismissing all of Plaintiff's claims except for disability discrimination under Rehabilitation Act).

The case proceeded to summary judgment, at which time Defendant demonstrated its entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff's Rehabilitation Act claim. Among other things, the Court found that Plaintiff did not suffer a "disability, " as defined under the Act, because his impairments were temporary, and it found that Plaintiff had failed to show that Defendant required him to perform work beyond his medical restrictions. See Order dated May 9, 2011 (Doc. 45) in 09-180 at 2-3.

Over one year after the first lawsuit was resolved in Defendant's favor, Plaintiff initiated this second lawsuit. The sum total allegations in his original Complaint are:

My complaint is about managements [sic] rataliatory [sic] and disruptive abuse of NALC Rules, [1] Regulation and procedures, and other Civil Rights law on:
Feb 19, 09[;] April 3, 4, 6, & 7, 09[;] Jun 11, 09 and Jun 12, 09 [sic].

Compl. (Doc. 2 in 12-1024).

Attached to the Complaint is a decision from the U.S. E.E.O.C., Office of Federal Operations, dated May 23, 2012, which denied Plaintiff's request to reconsider an unfavorable decision issued by the Commission on October 25, 2011. In relevant part, the decision stated:

EEOC Regulations provide that the Commission may, in its discretion, grant a request to reconsider any previous Commission decision where the requesting party demonstrates that: (1) the appellate decision involved a clearly erroneous interpretation of material fact or law; or (2) the appellate decision will have a substantial impact on the policies, practices, or operations of the agency....
Our previous decision affirmed the Agency's final decision finding no discrimination with regard to overtime, absent without leave (AWOL) charges, emergency placement in off-duty status, and [Plaintiff's] removal from employment. We noted that the Agency had met its burden to articulate legitimate, non-discriminatory explanations for its actions, which [Plaintiff] had not shown to be pretext for unlawful discrimination. We noted that [Plaintiff's] removal was precipitated, inter ...

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