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Klikus v. Cornell Iron Works, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

February 6, 2014

MICHAEL J. KLIKUS, Plaintiff,
v.
CORNELL IRON WORKS, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM

JAMES M. MUNLEY, District Judge.

Before the court for disposition is defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint. This motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.

Background

Defendant Cornell Iron Works, Inc. (hereinafter "defendant") employed Plaintiff Michael J. Klikus (hereinafter "plaintiff") beginning in 1994 as a Distributor Support Representative. (Doc. 17, Am. Compl. (hereinafter "Am. Compl.") ¶¶ 10-11). On September 6, 2011, defendant's representatives informed plaintiff that he was being discharged for poor job performance. (Id. ¶ 38).

Plaintiff is over forty (40) years of age. (Id. ¶ 9). He alleges that defendant terminated his employment to create a vacancy to hire a younger individual. (Id. ¶ 44). After plaintiff's termination, a younger individual was hired. (Id. ¶¶ 35, 39).

The events leading up to plaintiff's termination began in July 2011. At this time, plaintiff worked as a Distributor Support Representative. (Id. ¶¶ 15-18). A customer questioned plaintiff regarding credit towards a transaction. (Id. ¶¶ 18-21). Evidently displeased with the plaintiff's response, the customer complained to management, and defendant informed plaintiff that he was going to be transferred to a new position: Special Design and Request Analyst. (Id. ¶¶ 22-23, 25-26).

A month later, however, defendant informed plaintiff that this position was no longer available and he had to be transferred to the Information Technology Department if he wished to remain with the company. (Id. ¶ 29). Evidently the employees working in this department had to deal with computers. (Id.) Plaintiff informed his supervisors that he had only a basic knowledge of computers. (Id. ¶ 30). Defendant told plaintiff that he would be given a "crash course" in computers. (Id. ¶ 31). The date of the proposed crash course, however, conflicted with plaintiff's vacation, which was scheduled for August 26, 2011 through September 5, 2011. (Id. ¶¶ 33-34). Plaintiff requested additional leave due to automobile problems, and his supervisor approved the leave. (Id. ¶¶ 36-37). Defendant then terminated plaintiff on September 6, 2011. (Id. ¶ 38).

Based upon these facts, plaintiff filed a three-count complaint asserting the following causes of action: Count One, Wrongful Termination under Pennsylvania law; Count Two, violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C.A. § 621 et seq. ; Count Three, age discrimination in violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, ("PHRA"), 43 PA. CON. STAT. ANN. § 951 et seq. (Doc. 1).

On September 26, 2013, the court dismissed plaintiff's wrongful termination claim with prejudice and plaintiff's ADEA and PHRA claims without prejudice. (Doc. 16, Mem. & Order dated Sept. 26, 2013). Specifically, the court directed plaintiff to file an amended complaint within fourteen (14) days to properly assert an age discrimination cause of action pursuant to the ADEA and PHRA. (Id.) Plaintiff filed a timely amended complaint (Doc. 17), which the defendant now moves to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Doc. 19). The parties then briefed the issues bringing the case to its present posture.

Jurisdiction

As plaintiff brings suit pursuant to the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., we have federal question jurisdiction. 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."). We have supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiff's state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

Standard of Review

Defendant filed their motion to dismiss the amended 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 & Berman , 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n.2 (3d Cir. 1994) (citations omitted). The court does not have to accept legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences. See Curay-Cramer v. Ursuline Acad. of Wilmington, Del., Inc. , 450 F.3d 130, 133 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist. , 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997)).

The federal rules require only that plaintiff provide "a short and plain statement of the claim establishing that the pleader is entitled to relief, " a standard which "does not require detailed factual allegations, " but a plaintiff must make "a showing, rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief that rises above the speculative level." McTernan v. N.Y.C., 564 F.3d 636, 646 (3d Cir. 2009) (citations and internal quotations and quotation marks omitted). The "complaint 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, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 570). Such "facial plausibility" exists "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id . (citing Twombly , 550 U.S. at 556). "[T]he factual detail in a complaint [cannot be] so undeveloped that it does not provide a defendant the type of notice of claim which is contemplated by Rule 8." Phillips , 515 F.3d ...


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