United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
H. RAMBO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Bryan Witbeck (“Plaintiff) asserts that Defendant
Equipment Transport, LLC's (“Defendant”)
decision to terminate his employment violated federal and
state anti-discrimination and retaliation statutes and the
Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Before the
court for disposition is Defendant's 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. For the reasons explained below, the
court will grant the motion as to Count II insofar as
Plaintiff is asserting an FMLA interference claim, but will
deny the remainder of the motion.
recited in the complaint, Plaintiff was employed by Defendant
for approximately four years as a full-time truck supervisor
and occasionally as a commercial truck driver. (Doc. 1,
¶¶ 11-12.) As a result of a heart attack, Plaintiff
suffers from ongoing heart and cardiovascular problems.
(Id. at ¶ 16.) At times, these conditions
“limited Plaintiffs ability to work, his breathing,
[and] his respiratory and circulatory functions (among other
impacts).” (Id. at ¶ 17.) In January
2016, he underwent surgery to have a defibrillator implanted
in his chest. (Id. at ¶ 18.) As a result of
this surgery, Plaintiff missed approximately two weeks of
work in late January and early February 2016, and had some
temporary medical restrictions, including limits with
lifting, pushing and pulling. (Id. at ¶¶
his employment, Plaintiffs supervisors generally considered
him to be a very good employee, but their demeanor and
attitude toward him changed in 2015 as he began to experience
his health problems. (Id. at ¶¶ 14, 17.)
Leading up to and following his surgery, his supervisors
became “very condescending toward [him] and expressed
annoyance” with his requests for time off and
light-duty jobs. (Id. . at ¶ 20.)
February 23, 2016,  following his return to work from his
medical leave of absence, Plaintiff was terminated from his
employment for “unsatisfactory performance, ”
purportedly for providing false information to his manager
regarding an accident that occurred earlier that same day.
(Id. at ¶¶ 21-24.) However, prior to
Plaintiff's termination, Defendant had already begun
searching for his replacement. (Id. . at ¶ 26.)
response to his termination, Plaintiff filed a three-count
complaint. (Doc. 1.) Count I asserts disability
discrimination and retaliation claims in violation of the
Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42
U.S.C. §§ 12101; Count II asserts interference and
retaliation claims in violation of the Family and Medical
Leave Act (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. §§2601;
and Count III asserts discrimination and retaliation claims
under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act
(“PHRA”), 43 Pa. St. Ann. § 951. On May 19,
2017, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint in
its entirety. (Doc. 7.) The parties then briefed the issues,
bringing this matter to its current procedural posture.
Standard of Review
moves to dismiss Plaintiffs complaint pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 8 requires that a complaint set forth “a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
For a complaint to survive dismissal, it “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) (citing Bell Atl
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The
plaintiffs short and plain statement of the claim must
“give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim
is and the grounds upon which it rests.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).
evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint, a court must
accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draw
all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party.
See Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224,
234 (3d Cir. 2008). “Factual allegations must be enough
to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Further,
“[a] pleading that offers ‘labels and
conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a
complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertions]'
devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal citations omitted)
(citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557). However,
this “‘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.” West Penn Allegheny Health Sys. Inc. v.
UPMC, 627 F.3d 85, 98 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing
Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234).
Third Circuit has detailed a three-step process to determine
whether a complaint meets the pleading standard. Bistrian
v. Levi, 696 F.3d 352 (3d Cir. 2014). First, the court
outlines the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim
for relief. Id. at 365. Next, the court must
“peel away those allegations that are no more than
conclusions and thus not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Id. Finally, the court “look[s]
for well-pled factual allegations, assume[s] their veracity,
and then ‘determine[s] whether they plausibly give rise
to an entitlement to relief.'” Id.
(quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). The last step is
“a context-specific task that requires the reviewing
court to draw on its judicial experience and common
Discrimination Claims 
first seeks dismissal of Plaintiff's claims of disability
discrimination on the grounds that Plaintiff has failed to
plead facts showing that he is disabled within the meaning of
the ADA and that he suffered an adverse employment action
because of his disability. Plaintiff argues ...