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Thompson v. Allegheny County

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

April 6, 2015

DAPREE THOMPSON, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLEGHENY COUNTY, and ALLEGHENY COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF, EMERGENCY SERVICES, Defendants.

OPINION

MAURICE B. COHILL, Jr., Senior District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Allegheny County's and Allegheny County Department of Emergency Services' (hereinafter "Defendants") Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint [ECF No.8] pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In its Motion to Dismiss, the Defendants claim that Plaintiffs Amended Complaint [ECF No.7] should be dismissed because the claims in the Complaint are time-barred, Plaintiff failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted, and Plaintiffs claims for punitive damages are barred.

Plaintiff, Dapree Thompson (hereinafter "Plaintiff'), is an adult African-American who began working for the Allegheny County Department of Emergency Services ("ACDES") in 2003 and continues to be employed by ACDES [ECF No.7 at ¶ 8, 9]. Plaintiff works as a dispatcher who receives 9-1-1 calls and then relays them to emergency services in the field [ECF No.7 at ¶ 8, 9]. Plaintiff, in her Amended Complaint, alleged various discriminatory treatments which she endured and continues to endure in her workplace. Plaintiff avers the Motion to Dismiss should be denied because her claims are not time-barred. She states the employer's illegal behaviors are continuous and ongoing. Furthermore, Plaintiff asserts that the claims for Discrimination, Hostile Work Environment, and Retaliation are plausible, legitimate claims.

For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss will be granted.

I. Standard of Review.

In ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion for Failure to State a Claim upon which Relief can be Granted, a court must "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. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n. 7 (3d Cir. 2002)); (see also Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 563, n.8 (2007)). A valid complaint requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 8 "demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

"To survive a motion to dismiss 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). "A claim has facial plausibility 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. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "Factual allegations [of a complaint] must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. "This [standard] does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage, ' but instead simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Thus, "a plaintiffs obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted).

The Supreme Court in Iqbal explained that although a court must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in a complaint, that requirement does not apply to legal conclusions; therefore, pleadings must include factual allegations to support the legal claims asserted. See 556 U.S. at 678. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice." Id . (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555); see also Phillips, 515 F.3d at 232 ("We caution that without some factual allegation in the complaint, a claimant cannot satisfy the requirement that he or she provide not only fair notice, ' but also the grounds' on which the claim rests.") (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n. 3 (2007)). Accordingly, to survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plead "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.

Finally, if the court decides to grant a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the court must next decide whether leave to amend the complaint must be granted. As explained in Phillips, "We have instructed that if a complaint is vulnerable to 12(b)(6) dismissal, a district court must permit a curative amendment, unless an amendment would be inequitable or futile." 515 F.3d 236 (citing Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir.2002)).

II. Relevant Facts.

Plaintiff provided the following facts in her Amended Complaint [ECF No.7]: In 2011 Plaintiff was promoted to the position of lead trainer [ECF No. 7 at ¶ 10]. However, despite requesting to have trainees, Plaintiff has never been given a single trainee while the other Non-African-American trainers have been given several trainees [ECF No. 7 at ¶ 11].

In November of 2011, while Plaintiff was on the phone with an emergency unit that was in the field, someone from that unit called her a "nigger." Plaintiff complained to ACDES about being called a "nigger." Although management said they would investigate the matter, to date no investigation was ever conducted and no culprit identified [ECF No. 7 at ¶ 13].

From 2011 onward, Plaintiff is frequently made to work mandatory overtime, while Non-African-American workers would often be granted exemptions from working mandatory overtime [ECF No.7 at ¶ 14].

In November 2012 Plaintiff argued with a white female co-worker. Plaintiff and the co-worker walked away from the argument peacefully. Plaintiff was suspended from work for 5 days due to the incident but ...


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