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Bloomfield v. Wissinoming Volunteer Trust Aid Corps, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 6, 2015

MARQUES BLOOMFIELD
v.
WISSINOMING VOLUNTEER TRUST AID CORPS, INC., et al.

MEMORANDUM

THOMAS N. O'NEILL, Jr., District Judge.

Plaintiff Marques Bloomfield claims that defendants Wissinoming Volunteer First Aid Corps, Inc. and Wissinoming Ambulance, Inc. violated his rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Count I) and that defendants violated Pennsylvania common law when they wrongfully terminated his employment (Count II). Now before me are defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings on both counts or, in the alternative, for summary judgment on Count II (Dkt. No. 6), plaintiff Marques Bloomfield's response (Dkt. No. 7) and defendants' reply (Dkt. No. 8). For the reasons that follow I will dismiss both counts of plaintiff's complaint with leave to amend.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff worked as an Emergency Medical Technician and ambulance driver for defendants beginning on August 13, 2012.[1] Dkt. No. 4 at ECF 2, ¶ 15. He claims he was terminated on or about February 23, 2014. Dkt. No. 7 at ECF 3, ¶ 16. The exact circumstances and reasons that contributed to plaintiff's termination are in dispute.

As an EMT, plaintiff claims he had a duty to transport Medicare recipients and submit Medicare documentation for billing and payment purposes. Dkt. No. 1 at ECF 6, ¶ 18. Defendants allegedly required plaintiff to report false information in Medicare documentation in order to obtain fraudulent payments from Medicare. Id. at ¶ 19. Plaintiff avers that he refused to falsify documents and defendants subsequently gave him less favorable shifts. Id. at ¶ 20. Plaintiff claims defendants then terminated his employment when he informed his supervisor that he was going to report the allegedly fraudulent behavior. Id. at ¶ 23.

On February 26, 2015, plaintiff filed this action. Count I of plaintiff's complaint alleges a claim against defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Id. at ECF 8, ¶ 31. Count II alleges a claim under Pennsylvania common law for wrongful termination. Id. at ECF 9, ¶¶ 33-34. Plaintiff bases both of his claims on his allegation that the termination of his employment was directly related to his refusal to falsify Medicare reports. Id. at ECF 8-9, ¶¶ 31, 34.

On May 8, 2015, defendants filed a motion seeking judgment on the pleadings for both counts of plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or, alternatively, for summary judgment on Count II pursuant to Rules 12(d) and 56(a). Dkt. No. 6. Their motion attaches an affidavit from Michael Fasone, plaintiff's former direct supervisor from his time working for defendants as an EMT. Id. at ECF 2. The affidavit attaches a series of written records that document plaintiff's frequent lateness and also attaches Fasone's deposition transcript. Id. at ECF 11. At his deposition, Fasone testified that plaintiff had a history of chronic lateness which adversely affected defendants' ability to maintain their scheduled obligations. Dkt. No. 6-1 at ECF 2-3, ¶¶ 3-4. According to Fasone, defendants issued plaintiff seven written warnings, as well as "verbal" warnings, for lateness between May 12, 2013 and February 24, 2014. Id. at ECF 2, ¶ 3. On January 20, 2014, defendants placed plaintiff on probation for thirty days and informed him that any lateness during that thirty-day period would result in his termination. Id. at ECF 3, ¶ 6. Plaintiff was late for his shift on February 22, 2014, during the probation period, and defendants terminated his employment two days later. Id. at ECF 4, ¶ 7.

On May 22, 2015, plaintiff filed a response in opposition to defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings and requested leave to amend his complaint. Dkt. No. 7. Defendants timely filed a reply on May 27, 2015. Dkt. No. 8.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

A party may move for judgment on the pleadings "[a]fter the pleadings are closed - but early enough not to delay trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). In deciding a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the Court considers the pleadings and exhibits attached thereto, matters of public record and "undisputedly authentic documents attached to the motion for judgment on the pleadings if plaintiffs' claims are based on the documents." Atiyeh v. Nat'l Fire Ins. Co. of Hartford, 742 F.Supp.2d 591, 595 (E.D. Pa. 2010). Rule 12(c) motions are reviewed under the same standard that applies to motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). See Turbe v. Gov't of V.I., 938 F.2d 427, 428 (3d Cir. 1991) (citations omitted). Accordingly, in deciding a motion for judgment on the pleadings, I "must view the facts presented in the pleadings and the inferences to be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Sikirica v. Nationwide Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 214, 220 (3d Cir. 2005).

The motion will be granted if the plaintiff has not articulated enough facts "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). It is not enough for a plaintiff to allege mere "labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id . The plaintiff must plead "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 663 (2009). The Court "may disregard any legal conclusions." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009); see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 ("Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice").

DISCUSSION

I. Count I: Section 1981 Discrimination Claim

Defendants move for judgment on the pleadings with regard to plaintiff's § 1981 claim alleging discrimination in employment. Section 1981 prohibits race discrimination in the formation, terms and conditions, and termination of contracts. 42 U.S.C. § 1981. In order to state a claim for relief under § 1981 plaintiff must show (1) that he belongs to a racial minority; (2) defendants intended to discriminate against him on the basis of race; and (3) discrimination concerning one or more of the activities enumerated in the statute, which includes the right to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, and give evidence. Brown v. Phillip Morris, Inc., 250 F.3d 789, 797 (3d Cir. 2001), citing Yelverton v. Lehman, No. 94-6114, 1996 WL 296551, at *7 (E.D. Pa. June 3, 1996). Section 1981 can only be violated by intentional discrimination. General Bldg. Contractors Ass'n v. Pennsylvania, 458 U.S. 375, 391 (1982). ...


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