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Hamilton v. Wilmac Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

December 3, 2019

MARILYN L. HAMILTON, Plaintiff
v.
WILMAC CORP. et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          GENE E.K PRATTER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pro se plaintiff Marilyn Hamilton brings claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against Wilmac Corporation and Attleboro Nursing and Rehab Center for their alleged failure to hire and failure to accommodate. The defendants now move to dismiss Ms. Hamilton's second amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the Court dismisses Ms. Hamilton's claims against Wilmac, dismisses Ms. Hamilton's failure-to-hire claim against Attleboro, and denies the defendants' motion to dismiss with respect to Ms. Hamilton's failure-to-accommodate claim against Attleboro.

         I. Background[1]

         Ms. Hamilton believes that the defendants violated the ADA by failing to hire her or provide her reasonable accommodations for her disability. She filed a complaint with the EEOC and received a right to sue letter on or about February 12, 2018. See Def.s' Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss, Doc. No. 22-1 at 1. She filed this action against Attleboro and Wilmac Corporation on March 16, 2018. The litigants have since gone through two prior rounds of motions to dismiss.

         The Court granted the defendants' first motion to dismiss with leave for Ms. Hamilton to amend her complaint. Doc. No. 13. After Ms. Hamilton filed her first amended complaint, the Court granted the defendants' second motion to dismiss and-"[i]n light of Ms. Hamilton's/?ro se status, and in an abundance of indulgence"-granted Ms. Hamilton one more opportunity to amend her complaint. Doc. No. 20. Ms. Hamilton filed her second amended complaint on April 12, 2019.[2] Doc. No. 21. The defendants now move to dismiss Ms. Hamilton's second amended complaint under Rule 12(b)(6). Doc. No. 22.

         Ms. Hamilton suffers from "hearing loss," which has been diagnosed in medical evaluations. Doc. No. 21 at 2. To compensate, Ms. Hamilton has used hearing aids and a sign language interpreter. Id. at 16-18. Despite her hearing loss, she states that she can perform the functions of a certified nursing assistant, as she has for over ten years. She states that she is "well able to perform the functions of the job with or without accommodations." Id. at 6.

         Ms. Hamilton first applied for a certified nursing assistant position at Attleboro in person. Twice during October 2017, Ms. Hamilton also applied to be a certified nursing assistant at Attleboro through the website "Ziprecruiter.com". Id. at 4, 21-23. Ms. Hamilton states that Attleboro "currently and constantly" has both full-time and part-time job positions available that she is qualified to complete. Id. at 3.[3] She alleges that these positions were available both when she applied and when she filed her second amended complaint over a year later.

         At some point, Attleboro called Ms. Hamilton requesting that she contact them to set up a job interview. When Ms. Hamilton returned Attleboro's call, an unidentified individual denied her an opportunity to come in for a job interview and stated, "But your [sic] deaf!" Id. at 4-5. Ms. Hamilton also alleges that she communicated to an "HR Employee"[4] during a phone call that although hearing impaired, she could become familiar with the residents' needs if she was trained or provided a sign language interpreter. Ms. Hamilton stated that she could request the sign language interpreter "from an agency if need be." Id. at 4. The HR employee responded, "I didn't call you anyways" and ended the phone call. Id. at 5. Ms. Hamilton alleges that she later received a separate call from an unidentified person who found her information on Ziprecruiter.com, but "was refused a job interview again." Id.

         II. Legal Standard

         At the outset, the Court notes that Ms. Hamilton's pro se pleading must be "liberally construed." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); see also Bieros v. Nicola, 839 F.Supp. 332, 334 (E.D. Pa. 1993). Due to an "understandable difference in legal sophistication, "pro se litigants such as Ms. Hamilton are held to a "less exacting standard" than trained counsel. Lopez v. Brown, No. 04-6267, 2005 WL 2972843, at *2 (D.N.J. Nov. 4, 2005) (citing Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)). The Court stands prepared to "apply the applicable law, irrespective of whether the pro se litigant has mentioned it by name." Dluhos v. Strasberg, 321 F.3d 365, 369 (3d Cir. 2003) (internal citation omitted).

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the sufficiency of a complaint. Although Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), "to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, '" the plaintiff must provide "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted) (alteration in original).

         To survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must plead "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). Specifically, "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The question is not whether the claimant "will ultimately prevail... but whether [her] complaint [is] sufficient to cross the federal court's threshold." Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521, 530 (2011) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, assessment of the sufficiency of a complaint is "a context-dependent exercise" because "[s]ome claims require more factual explication than others to state a plausible claim for relief." W. Pa. Allegheny Health Sys., Inc. v. UPMC, 627 F.3d 85, 98 (3d Cir. 2010).

         In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint, "a court must consider only the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, [and] undisputedly authentic documents if the complainant's claims are based upon these documents." Mayer v. Belichick, 605 F.3d 223, 230 (3d Cir. 2010). The Court must "accept all allegations as true." ALA, 29 F.3d at 859; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (stating that courts must "assum[e] that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)")- A court must also accept as true all reasonable inferences emanating from the allegations, and view those facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Rocks v. City of Phila., 868 F.2d 644, 645 (3d Cir. 1989); see also Revell v. Port Auth, 598 F.3d 128, 134 (3d Cir. 2010).

         That admonition does not demand that the Court ignore or discount reality. The Court "need not accept as true unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences," Doug Grant, Inc. v. Greate Bay Casino Corp.,232 F.3d 173, 183-84 (3d Cir. 2000) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted), and "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; see also Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (explaining that a court need not accept a plaintiffs "bald assertions" or "legal conclusions" (citations omitted)). If a claim "is vulnerable to 12(b)(6) dismissal, a ...


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