United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
D. Mariani, United States District Court Judge.
Introduction and Procedural History
October 8, 2018, Plaintiff Wilma Knapp, on behalf of herself
and other similarly situated plaintiffs, filed this class
action lawsuit (Doc. 1) against Defendant Susquehanna Village
Facility Operations, LLC, alleging that Defendant breached
its contractual obligation when it unilaterally eliminated
its employees' accumulated sick and vacation leave (Count
I), and that, by breaching its contractual obligation,
Defendant violated the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and
Collection Law ("WPCL") (Count II). (Id.).
Pled in the alternative, Knapp's Complaint also alleges,
based on Defendant's elimination of its employees'
accumulated sick and vacation leave, promissory estoppel
(Count III) and unjust enrichment (Count IV). (Id.).
Village Facility thereafter filed a Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiffs Complaint (Doc. 6), which is now before the Court.
The issues have been fully briefed and Defendant's Motion
is ripe for disposition. For the reasons set forth below, the
Court will deny Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.
Complaint (Doc. 1) alleges the following facts, which, for
the purpose of resolving Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
(Doc. 6), the Court takes as true:
Susquehanna Village Facility Operations, LLC, operates
nursing, assisted living, and rehabilitation facilitates
throughout several states. (Doc. 1, at ¶ 5). Defendant
operated a nursing home in Millersburg, PA, which employed
over fifty individuals. (Id. at ¶¶ 6-7).
Plaintiff Wilma Knapp worked as a nurse at the Millersburg,
PA Facility at an hourly pay rate of $26.66. (Id. at
¶ 12, 13).
distributed an "Employee Guidebook" (see Doc. 1,
Ex. A, at 11-36) to all employees. (Doc. 1, at ¶ 8). The
Guidebook provided employees with an overview of
Defendant's policies. (Id. at ¶ 8).
Defendant "tried to make the guidebook as complete as
possible" and expected employees to "familiarize
[themselves] with its content without delay."
(Id. at ¶ 8). Defendant's Guidebook states
the following regarding its sick leave policy: "Sick
leave is accrued at a rate equal to 10 days per year, there
is no maximum cap for the number of sick days employees may
carry-over and earn." (Doc. 1, at ¶ 9;
Id., Ex. A, at 27). Defendant's Guidebook also
states the following regarding its vacation leave policy:
"You may carry over unused vacation days up to a maximum
of two times your annual accrual amount." (Doc. 1, at
¶ 10; Id., Ex. A, at 26). Each pay period, the
Susquehanna Village Facility Operations employees' pay
stubs reflected the aggregate number of sick leave and
vacation leave hours earned by and available to each
employee. (Doc. 1, at ¶ 11).
and other employees received the Guidebook and earned,
accumulated, and used sick leave and vacation leave pursuant
to the policies enumerated in the Guidebook throughout their
employment with Susquehanna Village Facilities Operations.
(Id. at ¶ 14). By mid-September 2017, Knapp had
accumulated 1, 019 hours of sick leave and 120 hours of
vacation leave. (Id. at ¶ 15). Knapp alleges
that these hours carry a monetary value of approximately $30,
her employment, Knapp understood that she was accumulating
sick and vacation time pursuant to the policy articulated in
the Guidebook based on "the tally of aggregate earned
leave time appearing on [Knapp's] pay stubs and by
Defendant's actual course of conduct in administering the
leave program." (Id. at ¶ 16). Knapp
relied on this understanding and, as a result, did not pursue
other employment opportunities "because changing
employers would result in the loss of many years of earned
leave time that she understood would be available to her in
her time of need." (Id. at ¶ 16).
2017, Defendant informed Knapp and other employees that
"their earned and accumulated leave time was being
eliminated in order to facilitate Defendant's sale of the
Millersburg Facility to a nursing home company called
Priority Healthcare Group." (Doc. 1, at ¶ 17).
Thereafter, each employee's accrued sick leave and
vacation "was summarily and unilaterally wiped-out"
and "no consideration was offered or paid."
(Id. at ¶ 17). Knapp alleges that
Defendant's unilateral elimination of its employees'
earned and accumulated vacation and sick leave time enabled
Defendant to sell the facility for a higher purchase price
"than the price that would have been realized had
Defendant's leave time liabilities been honored."
(Id. at ¶ 18).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
complaint must be dismissed under Federal Rule Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), if it does not allege "enough facts
to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). The
plaintiff must aver "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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d
a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss
does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiffs
obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to
relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555
(internal citations, alterations, and quotations marks
omitted). In other words, "[f]actual allegations must be
enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level." Covington v. Int'lAss'n of Approved
Basketball Officials, 710 F.3d 114, 118 (3d Cir. 2013)
(internal citations and quotation marks omitted). A court
"take[s] as true all the factual allegations in the
Complaint and the reasonable inferences that can be drawn
from those facts, but... disregard[s] legal conclusions and
threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action,
supported by mere conclusory statements." Ethypharm
S.A. France v. Abbott Labs., 707 F.3d 223, 231 n.14 (3d
Cir. 2013) (internal citation, alteration, and quotation
marks omitted). Thus, "the presumption of truth attaches
only to those allegations for which there is sufficient
'factual matter' to render them 'plausible on
[their] face.'" Schuchardt v. President of the
U.S., 839 F.3d 336, 347 (3d Cir. 2016) (alteration in
original) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).
"Conclusory assertions of fact and legal conclusions are
not entitled to the same presumption." Id.
the plausibility standard 'does not impose a probability
requirement; it does require a pleading to show 'more
than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.'" Connelly v. Lane Constr.
Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 786 (3d Cir. 2016) (internal
citation omitted) (first quoting Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 556; then quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
"The plausibility determination is 'a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to
draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'"
Id. at 786-87 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S.
even "if a complaint is subject to Rule 12(b)(6)
dismissal, a district court must permit a curative amendment
unless such an amendment would be inequitable or
futile." Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515
F.3d 224, 245 (3d Cir. 2008).
[E]ven when plaintiff does not seek leave to amend his
complaint after a defendant moves to dismiss it, unless the
district court finds that amendment would be inequitable or
futile, the court must inform the plaintiff that he or she
has leave to amend the complaint within a set period of time.