United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
JANICE R. SCHONEWOLF, as Administrator of the Estate of William Harry Schonewolf, III, Plaintiff,
WASTE MANAGEMENT, INC., Defendant.
F. KELLY, SR. J.
Plaintiff William H. Schonewolf (“Schonewolf”)
had a heart attack on December 25, 2015 that rendered him
unable to return to work immediately. His employer, Defendant
Waste Management, Inc. (“Waste Management”),
allegedly fired him just two weeks later. This action
followed, in which he asserts claims under the Family and
Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C.
§§ 2601 et seq., the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§
12101 et seq., the Age Discrimination in Employment
Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et
seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act
(“PHRA”), 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. §§
died during the pendency of this action. Waste Management
now moves to dismiss Schonewolf's claims under the ADA
and ADEA (Counts III through VI) on the basis that they are
time-barred. It further moves to dismiss claims of liquidated
and punitive damages on the grounds that they extinguished
upon Schonewolf's death. For the reasons noted below,
Waste Management's Motion for Partial Dismissal is
granted in part and denied in part.
began working at Waste Management as a Plant Maintenance
Manager in June 2014. (Compl. ¶ 11.) On December 25, 2015,
he suffered a heart attack. (Id. ¶ 17.) Over
the next few days there was communication over the telephone
between Schonewolf and Waste Management regarding the
former's need to go on disability leave. (Id.
¶ 18(a)-(b).) On December 28, 2015, Schonewolf's
physician submitted information to Waste Management to
initiate FMLA leave and short-term disability. (Id.
¶ 18(c).) The next day, Sedgwick Claims Management
Services, Inc., Waste Management's administrator for FMLA
leave, notified Waste Management that Schonewolf requested
leave from December 23, 2015 until January 19, 2016.
(Id. ¶ 18(d).) Waste Management acknowledged
the request for FMLA leave and requested that Schonewolf
submit a “Medical Authorization for Release of
Information Form” and a “Certification of Health
Care Provider (Medical Certification) Form” by January
13, 2016. (Id. ¶ 18(e).)
went to his physician's office for testing on January 8,
2016. (Id. ¶ 19.) While he was in the
physician's office for the medical testing, he received a
call from a representative from Waste Management's Human
Resources Department notifying him that his employment was
terminated and that his medical benefits ended effective
January 7, 2016. (Id. ¶ 20.) Schonewolf alleges
Waste Management replaced him with a significantly younger
individual. (Id. ¶ 29.)
timely filed a Charge of Discrimination with the United
States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”). (Id. ¶ 2(a).) On February
28, 2017, the EEOC issued a Dismissal and Notice of Rights
(“right-to-sue letter”) to Schonewolf. He alleges
that he never received the right-to-sue letter and did not
actually have notice of it until June 20, 2017, when the EEOC
responded to his counsel's inquiry as to the status of
the Charge of Discrimination. (Id. ¶ 2(b)-(d).)
filed suit in this Court on August 21, 2017. He specifically
alleges that the ninety-day filing period should be equitably
tolled because he did not have actual notice of the
EEOC's right-to-sue letter until June 20, 2017.
(Id. ¶ 2(f).) Waste Management moves to dismiss
the ADA and ADEA claims on the basis of timeliness, and it
seeks dismissal of all liquidated and punitive damages under
the FMLA, ADA, and ADEA on the basis that they extinguished
upon Schonewolf's death.
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint. Kost v.
Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993). “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.” Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009) (quoting Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007))
(internal quotation marks omitted). In deciding a motion to
dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), courts must “accept as
true all allegations in the complaint and all reasonable
inferences that can be drawn from them after construing them
in the light most favorable to the nonmovant.”
Davis v. Wells Fargo, 824 F.3d 333, 341 (3d Cir.
2016) (quoting Foglia v. Renal Ventures Mgmt., LLC,
754 F.3d 153, 154 n.1 (3d Cir. 2014)) (internal quotation
marks omitted). However, courts need not “accept mere
conclusory factual allegations or legal assertions.”
In re Asbestos Prods. Liab. Litig. (No. VI), 822
F.3d 125, 133 (3d Cir. 2016) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678-79). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do
not suffice.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
Finally, we may consider “only the complaint, exhibits
attached to the complaint, matters of public record, as well
as undisputedly authentic documents if the complainant's
claims are based upon [those] documents.”
Davis, 824 F.3d at 341 (quoting Mayer v.
Belichick, 605 F.3d 223, 230 (3d Cir. 2010)) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
indicated above, Waste Management seeks dismissal of
Schonewolf's ADA and ADEA claims, as well as claims for
liquidated and punitive damages under the FMLA, ADA, and
ADEA. Because Waste Management seeks dismissal of the ADA and
ADEA claims in their entirety on timeliness grounds, we will
first address that aspect of its Motion and will then proceed
to determine whether any remaining liquidated and punitive
The ADA and ADEA Claims (Counts III through VI)