United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
case involves alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 that infected Makiyah Lee's employment
and ultimate termination as a firefighter and EMT in
Eddystone, Pennsylvania. She has sued the Borough of
Eddystone and Eddystone Fire and Ambulance, alleging that she
was subjected to sexual harassment, a hostile work
environment, and retaliation for her complaints. Defendants
have each moved to dismiss, strike, or narrow aspects of her
suit and to obtain more definite statements of certain
elements of her complaint.
described in more detail below, the Court will GRANT the
Borough's Motion to dismiss Plaintiff's prayer for
punitive damages, and otherwise DENY Defendants' Motions.
Factual and Procedural History
Lee's allegations as true, the factual background is as
follows. Makiyah Lee worked as a firefighter and EMT in
Eddystone. See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 13-15.
“On many occasions during the year 2017, ” Allen
Reeves sexually harassed her. Id. ¶ 15. She
does not explain Reeves's relationship to the Defendants.
She also claims that Dallas Walters harassed her.
Id. ¶¶ 17-18. She explains that Walters is
a member of “Defendants' Board of Directors”
but does not specify which Defendant she is referring to. Nor
does she give a timeframe for the harassment by Walters.
Finally, she claims that an employee named Jeff Pennel sent
her a sexually explicit message on social media in or about
January of 2018. Id. ¶ 19. Again, which
Defendant employed Pennel is not specified.
states that all of the conduct was unwelcome, that she told
her harassers that, and that she made written and verbal
complaints to various leadership figures including the Fire
Chief and “Defendant's Board of Directors.”
Id. ¶¶ 16, 20-21. (Again, which
Defendant's Board of Directors she complained to is
unspecified.) At some point while Lee was employed, David
Hackett, an outside investigator, prepared a report and
recommendations concerning sexual harassment. Borough MtD Br.
Ex. A (“EEOC Charge”) ¶¶
10-11. Although it is not explicitly stated, it
appears from context that the report was addressed to sexual
harassment taking place at Eddystone Fire and Ambulance, and
the Court will infer as much. Hackett's recommendations
were not adopted. Id. ¶¶ 10-11.
suspended from work, and, eventually, effectively terminated
in January or February of 2018. Id. ¶¶
22-23. She believes that she was disciplined and terminated
because of her complaints. Id. ¶ 24. Plaintiff
filed an EEOC Charge, and received her Notice of Right to Sue
in May of 2019. Am. Compl. Ex. A.
July, Lee filed suit in this Court. ECF 1. In September, she
filed an amended complaint. ECF 8. As amended, her complaint
seeks relief for the sexual harassment, hostile work
environment, and retaliation that she allegedly suffered. For
relief, she requests, inter alia, compensatory and punitive
Borough of Eddystone filed its Motion on October 4, ECF 9,
and Eddystone Fire and Ambulance filed its own on October 8,
ECF 10. Lee responded to the Borough's motion on October
11, ECF 11, and to Eddystone Fire and Ambulance's on
October 23, ECF 12.
toto, Defendants seek:
1. The dismissal of Plaintiff's claim for punitive
damages against the Borough;
2. The dismissal or striking of the part of Plaintiff's
complaint detailing Pennel's alleged misconduct, mainly
because it did not appear in her EEOC complaint or because it
is time-barred; and
3. More definite statements of various aspects of the
considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the
Court “accept[s] all factual allegations as true [and]
construe[s] the complaint in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff.” Warren Gen. Hosp. v. Amgen, Inc.,
643 F.3d 77, 84 (3d Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks and
citations omitted). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim for relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
Court in Iqbal explained that, although a court must
accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in a
complaint, that requirement does not apply to legal
conclusions; therefore, pleadings must include factual
allegations to support the legal claims asserted.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 684. “Threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”
Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555); see also Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515
F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008) (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556 n.3) (“We caution that without some factual
allegation in the complaint, a claimant cannot satisfy the
requirement that he or she provide not only ‘fair
notice,' but also the ‘grounds' on which the
claim rests.”). Accordingly, to survive a motion to
dismiss, a plaintiff must plead “factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556).
court may strike from a pleading . . . any . . . immaterial,
impertinent, or scandalous matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f).
“Content is immaterial when it has no essential or
important relationship to the claim for relief. Content is
impertinent when it does not pertain to the issues raised in
the complaint. Scandalous material improperly casts a
derogatory light on someone, most typically on a party to the
action.” Giuliani v. Polysciences, Inc., 275
F.Supp.3d 564, 572 (E.D. Pa. 2017) (internal citations and
quotations omitted). A motion to strike is “to be
decided ‘on the ...