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Condron v. Facciolo

United States District Court, Third Circuit

January 9, 2014

MARY ELLEN CONDRON, Plaintiff,
v.
DEBRA J. FACCIOLO and THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

JAMES M. MUNLEY, District Judge.

Before the court for disposition is defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. This matter is fully briefed and ripe for disposition. For the following reasons, the court will grant defendants' motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

The instant civil rights lawsuit arose from an alleged poor employment reference. Specifically, Plaintiff Mary Ellen Condron (hereinafter "Condron") claims that Defendant Debra Facciolo (hereinafter "Facciolo") vindictively attacked and destroyed her character when giving an employment reference pertaining to a University of Scranton Public Safety position.[1] (Doc. 1, Compl. (hereinafter "Compl.") ¶ 1). On September 3, 2011, the University of Scranton's Public Safety Department sought to hire an unarmed driver/security guard. (Id. ¶ 16). Condron applied for and was offered this position. (Id. ¶¶ 17-18). Condron's employment offer, however, was conditioned on Condron passing a background check. (Id. ¶ 19).

Kevin Rude, a background investigator with the University of Scranton, met with Condron on January 4, 2012 to discuss the results of his investigation. (Id. ¶ 20). Rude advised Condron that her personal references were perfect. (Id. ¶ 21). Rude also stated that Condron's professional references were excellent "with the exception of the Pennsylvania State Police." (Id.)

Rude advised Condron that he spoke with Facciolo. (Id. ¶ 22(c)). Facciolo told Rude "that while [Condron] was a great dispatcher, she had issues" including the following: (1) Condron refused to get help for her medical conditions; (2) Condron had problems with the command structure and listening to supervisors; and (3) Condron was also dropped by her union because she was combative. (Id.)

At the conclusion of the January 4, 2012 interview with Condron, Rude, based on instructions from the University of Scranton's Director of Public Safety, recommended this position to Condron based on her experiences and references. (Id. ¶ 27). On January 17, 2012, however, Condron received a letter from the University of Scranton stating that she was no longer being considered for employment because of the background investigation. (Id. ¶ 28).

Subsequent to receiving her denial of employment letter, Condron spoke with the University of Scranton's Director of Public Safety. (Id. ¶ 29). The Director advised Condron that she's "a nice person, and has a great work ethic and more than enough experience, but he decided that [Condron] would not be a good fit with the [Public Safety] Department." (Id.) The Director also stated that Condron would never be hired because she would never "ever pass the background check." (Id. ¶ 30).

In response, Condron filed the instant complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (hereinafter "section 1983") against the Pennsylvania State Police and Facciolo (hereinafter "defendants"). Condron's complaint alleges four claims. First, Condron asserts a First Amendment retaliation claim against the defendants. Second, Condron avers that the defendants treated similarly situated former Pennsylvania State Police employees differently in contravention of the Fourteenth Amendment. Third, Condron alleges that the defendants deprived her of a constitutionally protected property interest in her right to obtain employment in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Fourth, Condron asserts a state law tortious interference with a contract claim against the defendants. Defendants move to dismiss the complaint. The parties then briefed the issues bringing the case to its present posture.

JURISDICTION

The court has federal question jurisdiction over this civil rights action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."); 28 U.S.C. §§ 1343(a)(3), (4) (granting district courts jurisdiction over civil actions brought to redress deprivations of constitutional or statutory rights by way of damages or equitable relief). The court has supplemental jurisdiction over Condron's state law claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) ("[I]n any civil action of which the district courts have original jurisdiction, the district courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution.").

LEGAL STANDARD

Defendants filed their motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The court tests the sufficiency of the complaint's allegations when considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. All well-pleaded allegations of the complaint must be viewed as true and in the light most favorable to the non-movant to determine whether, "under any reasonable reading of the pleadings, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief.'" Colburn v. Upper Darby Twp. , 838 F.2d 663, 665-66 (3d Cir. 1988) (quoting Estate of Bailey by Oare v. Cnty. of York , 768 F.2d 503, 506 (3d Cir. 1985)). The plaintiff must describe "enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' [each] necessary element" of the claims alleged in the complaint. Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny , 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). Moreover, the plaintiff must allege facts that "justify moving the case beyond the pleadings to the next stage of litigation." Id. at 234-35. In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint the court may also consider "matters of public record, orders, exhibits attached to the complaint and items appearing in the record of the case." Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & ...


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