United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
FLOWERS CONTI CHIEF JUDGE
Eaton Corporation (“Eaton”) filed a motion (ECF
No. 13) to dismiss the First Amended Complaint (the
“Amended Complaint”) filed by plaintiff James
Smeltzer (“Smeltzer”) in its entirety, with
prejudice. After Smeltzer's lawyer withdrew (ECF No. 25)
and the 90-day stay to find new counsel expired, Smeltzer
filed a pro se response in opposition to the motion. (ECF No.
26). The motion is ripe for disposition.
Factual and Procedural Background
Amended Complaint contains very few factual allegations.
Smeltzer began his employment with Eaton on April 1, 2005.
(ECF No. 11 ¶ 5). Eaton employed Smeltzer for ten years
as a lead engineering technician. Smeltzer was a good
employee with favorable job reviews and little to no
disciplinary action. (ECF. No. 11 ¶ 6).
2014, Smeltzer was advised that there would be no overtime or
requests for overtime without pre-approval from his manager.
(ECF No. 11 ¶ 10). After receiving this instruction,
Smeltzer submitted a 40-hour a week time card to his manager
for approval and submission to payroll. (ECF No. 11 ¶
point, the payroll department stopped waiting for submission
of the weekly timecard, and began to draw time directly from
employees' personal electronic accounts. (ECF No. 11
¶ 18). Eaton acknowledged that there was a flaw in its
system, of which it was unaware. (ECF No. 11 ¶ 19; Ex.
2). Smeltzer was unaware of the flaw and nothing was said to
Smeltzer “for approximately a year.” (ECF No. 11
¶¶ 22, 24).
payroll department issued Smeltzer's paychecks based on
the time Smeltzer placed in his electronic account, which
included his overtime, instead of the 40-hour a week time
card he submitted to his manager. (ECF No. 11 ¶ 23).
During this approximately one-year period, Smeltzer received
overtime pay. (ECF No. 11 ¶¶ 23, 24, 26). Smeltzer
continued to record his actual time in his personal
electronic account. (ECF No. 11 ¶¶ 8, 9). Smeltzer
did not seek or obtain approval to submit a claim for
overtime, but believed that his supervisor knew or should
have known that Smeltzer was working over 40 hours per week
given the amount of time he was at the facility. (ECF No. 11
discovered that Smeltzer was receiving overtime pay without
manager pre-approval. “On or about June 26, 2015,
” Smeltzer was terminated for a violation of
Eaton's Code of Ethics for allegedly falsifying documents
to collect overtime pay. (ECF No. 11 ¶¶ 25, 27) .
26, 2017, Smeltzer filed a complaint against Eaton. On
September 20, 2017, Eaton filed a motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
(ECF No. 3). Smeltzer filed an Amended Complaint, which
mooted the original motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 11). Eaton
renews its motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted
(ECF No. 13). Smeltzer filed a pro se response (ECF No. 26)
and the motion is ripe for decision.
Standard of Review
Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit described the
standards and procedures that a district court must apply
when deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss:
A complaint may be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) for
“failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” But a detailed pleading is not generally
required. The Rules demand “only ‘a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief,' in order to ‘give the
defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.' ” Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting
Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). “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, 678 (2009) (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted). “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.; see also Sheridan v. NGK Metals Corp.,
609 F.3d 239, 262 n.27 (3d Cir. 2010). Although the
plausibility standard “does not impose a probability
requirement, ” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, it
does require a pleading to show “more than a sheer
possibility that a NGL has acted unlawfully.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A complaint that pleads
facts “merely consistent with a defendant's
liability...stops short of the line between possibility and
plausibility of entitlement to relief.” Id.
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). The
plausibility determination is “a context-specific task
that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense.” Id. at 679.
Under the pleading regime established by Twombly and
Iqbal, a court reviewing the sufficiency of a
complaint must take three steps. First, it must “tak[e]
note of the elements [the] plaintiff must plead to state a
claim.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675. Second, it
should identify allegations that, “because they are no
more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Id. at 679; see also Burtch v.
Milberg Factors, Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 224 (3d Cir. 2011)
(“Mere restatements of the elements of a claim are not
entitled to the assumption of truth.” (citation and
editorial marks omitted)). Finally, “[w]hen there are
well-pleaded factual allegations, [the] court should assume
their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give
rise to an entitlement to relief.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 679.
Connelly v. Lane Constr. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 786-87
(3d Cir. 2016). A complaint “need not establish a prima
facie case in order to survive a motion to dismiss.”
Id. Instead, to meet the post-Twombly
pleading standard a complaint must set forth “enough
facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will
reveal evidence of the necessary element[s].”
Id. at 789.