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Koci v. Central City Optical Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

November 14, 2014

ROXANNE KOCI
v.
CENTRAL CITY OPTICAL COMPANY d/b/a/ PHILADELPHIA EYEGLASS LABS

For ROXANNE KOCI, Plaintiff: SIDNEY L. GOLD, LEAD ATTORNEY, TRACI M. GREENBERG, SIDNEY L. GOLD & ASSOCIATES, PC, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

For CENTRAL CITY OPTICAL COMPANY, doing business as PHILADELPHIA EYEGLASS LABS, Defendant: ANDREW LAFIURA, LEAD ATTORNEY, JACKSON LEWIS LLP, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

Page 484

MEMORANDUM

Dalzell, J.

We consider here the motion to dismiss plaintiff Roxanne Koci's claims that Central City Optical Company, doing business as Philadelphia Eyeglass Labs (" PEL" ), discriminated against her for a perceived disability and/or her association with her disabled son, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (" ADA" ), 42 U.S.C. § § 12101 et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human

Page 485

Relations Act (" PHRA" ), 43 P.S. § § 951 et seq.

For the reasons detailed below, we will grant PEL's motion.

I. Factual Allegations

Plaintiff Roxanne Koci is a fifty-year old woman who worked for PEL for more than ten years before her termination on September 13, 2012. Amended Complaint (" AC" ) at ¶ ¶ 7, 11. Her son, James Koci, a PEL optician, suffers from depression, in connection with which he attempted suicide on August 22, 2012.[1] Id. at ¶ ¶ 13, 14. Immediately thereafter, with PEL's permission, Ms. Koci took a leave of absence to care for her son. Id. at ¶ 14. On September 2, 2012, she told PEL's president, Norma Meshkov, that she planned to return to work. Id. at ¶ 15. In response, Ms. Meshkov repeatedly asked about Ms. Koci's " depressed mental state" and told her to stay out of work for another eight days " to care for herself." Id. On September 7, 2012, Meshkov inquired whether Ms. Koci was " stable enough to return to work" and, despite Koci's assurances that she was fine, " expressly prohibited" Ms. Koci from working. Id. at ¶ 16. Nonetheless, Ms. Koci returned to work on September 10, 2012. Id. at ¶ 17. Three days later, General Manager Paul Kohnan allegedly told Ms. Koci that both Norma and Karen Meshkov, a manager, had made the decision to terminate her employment immediately and she was refused her quarterly bonus.[2] Id. at ¶ ¶ 18, 22. PEL gave no reason for this decision and at no time prior to her termination was Koci counseled about performance deficiencies. Id. at ¶ ¶ 19, 20. Thereafter, PEL replaced her with a less qualified and less experienced individual who was " not perceived by [PEL] as disabled, nor associated with a disabled family member." Id. at ¶ 21.

Ms. Koci alleges that PEL discriminated against her either based on " a perceived disability" or because of " her association with her disabled son" in violation of the ADA, which resulted in her termination. Id. at ¶ 25.

II. Standard of Review

A defendant moving to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) bears the burden of proving that a plaintiff has failed to state a claim for relief, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); see also, e.g., Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the sufficiency of the allegations contained in the complaint and " [t]he question, then, is whether the facts alleged in the complaint, even if true, fail to support the claim." Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted). As the Supreme Court held in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009), in order to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion " a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face'," Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

Page 486

A claim is plausible " when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged," Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

Our Court of Appeals requires district courts considering a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) to ...


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