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Cardiology Care for Children Inc. v. Ravi

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

April 18, 2018

CARDIOLOGY CARE FOR CHILDREN INC., Plaintiff,
v.
PRASAD RAVI, M.D., Defendant.

          OPINION DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS, ECF NO. 3 - GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART

          JOSEPH F. LEESON, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Cardiology Care for Children, Inc. (“CCC”) filed a Complaint against Defendant Prasad Ravi, M.D. in the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas. CCC, which had entered into an employment contract with Ravi, alleges breach of contract, promissory estoppel, and unjust enrichment. The action was timely removed to this Court based on diversity jurisdiction. Ravi has filed a Motion to Dismiss. For the reasons set forth herein, this Court concludes that CCC has stated a claim, at this early stage of the proceedings, for breach of contract, the liquidated damages provision in the Employment Agreement survives the Motion to Dismiss, the promissory estoppel claim is dismissed based on the existence of the written contract, and the unjust enrichment claim is dismissed in light of CCC's agreement to withdraw the count.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The Complaint alleges that in 2016 CCC entered into an employment contract with Ravi, pursuant to which Ravi agreed to provide CCC his medical services for thirty-six months. Compl. ¶ 7, ECF No. 1-1. According to the Employment Agreement, Ravi's salary for the first twelve months would be $180, 000, $200, 000 for the second twelve months, and $210, 000 for the third twelve months of employment. Emp. Agreement ¶ 3, Compl. Ex. A, ECF No. 1-1. Ravi's employment was contingent on him having the right to work in the United States. Compl. ¶ 12. See also Removal ¶ 10, ECF No. 1 (stating that Ravi is a citizen of the Republic of India). Paragraph 23 of the Employment Agreement, which is attached to the Complaint, provides:

EAD. This Agreement is expressly contingent on Physician [Ravi] having the right to work in the United States including having a current, valid employment authorization document or work permit (EAD) issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. If at any time Physician does not have an EAD, he shall return any “sign on” bonus[1] to Employer [CCC]. Physician will provide Employer with copies of Physician's EAD and any replacement or renewal of the EAD such that Employer has at all times a copy of a current, valid EAD.

Emp. Agreement ¶ 23. According to the Complaint, Ravi began his employment on November 7, 2016. Compl. ¶ 13.

         CCC alleges that on February 6, 2017, Ravi told Dr. Chowdhury, President of CCC, that he was unwilling to apply for and obtain a Visa (which would permit him to remain in the United States and continue working for CCC), that his wife's Visa was set to expire on July 1, 2017, and that he intended on leaving the United States “sooner than later” so that he might immediately commence looking for a job in India, where he and his wife were to return. Compl. ¶¶ 6, 16. CCC alleges that this statement revealed Ravi's intent to forego renewal of his Visa and to leave the United States to return to India with his wife, thereby breaching the Employment Agreement without cause. Compl. ¶¶ 17, 22. CCC alleges that, based on Ravi's breach within the first twelve months of his employment and pursuant to the Employment Agreement, Ravi is obligated to pay CCC $200, 000. Compl. ¶¶ 18, 21 (citing Emp. Agreement ¶ 14).[2]

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         In rendering a decision on a motion to dismiss, this Court must “accept all factual allegations as true [and] construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Phillips v. Cnty. 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)) (internal quotation marks omitted). Only if “the ‘[f]actual allegations . . . raise a right to relief above the speculative level'” has the plaintiff stated a plausible claim. Id. at 234 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 540, 555 (2007)). “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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). However, “the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Id. (explaining that determining “whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief . . . [is] a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense”). The defendant bears the burden of demonstrating that a plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005) (citing Kehr Packages, Inc. v. Fidelcor, Inc., 926 F.2d 1406, 1409 (3d Cir. 1991)).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         A. CCC states a claim for breach of contract based on Ravi's alleged statements regarding his intent to leave the United States and to return to India.

         CCC's breach of contract claim is based on Ravi's alleged statements to Dr. Chowdhury that (1) he was unwilling to apply to renew his Visa, and (2) he intended on leaving the United States and return to India with his wife. CCC alleges that these statements indicated Ravi's clear intent to terminate his employment and constituted a breach of the Employment Agreement.

         Statements or actions reflecting a party's intent to breach have been referred to as breach by anticipatory repudiation or anticipatory breach. See Restatement (Second) of Contracts, § 253 (1981). “[A]n anticipatory repudiation may be evidenced by words or actions, and occurs when a party reasonably indicates a rejection of the continuing obligation. The rejection itself, however, must be definite and unequivocal.” Mextel, Inc. v. Air-Shields, Inc., No. 01-CV-7308, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1281, at *53 n.13 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 31, 2005) (internal citations omitted); Total Containment, Inc. v. Environ Prods., Inc., 921 F.Supp. 1355, 1417 (E.D. Pa. 1995) (“In order constitute a repudiation, a party's language must be sufficiently positive to be reasonably interpreted to mean that the party will not or cannot perform.”). Further, ...


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