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Acevedo v. Monsignor Donovan High School

February 28, 2006

GUS A. ACEVEDO, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MONSIGNOR DONOVAN HIGH SCHOOL, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cooper, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

The defendants, Monsignor Donovan High School ("MDHS") and Edward Gere ("Gere") (collectively "the defendants") move to dismiss the amended complaint filed by Gus A. Acevedo ("G. Acevedo") and Luane Acevedo ("L. Acevedo") (collectively "the plaintiffs"), for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6). The Court, for the reasons stated herein, will (1) grant the part of the motion seeking to dismiss (a) L. Acevedo's loss of consortium claim, and (b) all claims against Gere, and (2) deny the part of the motion seeking to dismiss G. Acevedo's Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") claim against MDHS.

BACKGROUND

MDHS employed G. Acevedo as a teacher during the 2003-2004 school year, which commenced on September 5, 2003 (the "school year"). (Am. Compl., at ¶¶ 4, 7.) Gere was the principal at MDHS during the school year. (Id. at ¶ 5.) G. Acevedo alleges that Gere, on or about March 1, 2004, announced at a MDHS teachers' meeting that it was his goal to reduce the median age of the faculty at MDHS. (Id. at ¶ 6.)

G. Acevedo claims that, on or about May 3, 2004, he was summoned to Gere's office and discharged from his teaching duties without cause and without benefit of the procedures set forth by the Diocese of Trenton, which oversees MDHS. (Id. at ¶ 8.) G. Acevedo alleges that MDHS replaced him with a younger person. (Id. at ¶ 9.) At the time of his discharge, G. Acevedo was fifty-five years old. (Id. at ¶ 3.)

The plaintiffs brought this action against the defendants for, inter alia, violating the ADEA, on October 28, 2005.*fn1 (Id. at ¶ 10.) G. Acevedo contends that he was "perform[ing] his duties as a teacher [at MDHS] in an appropriate and satisfactory manner during the time of his employment at [MDHS] for many years and including the academic year 2003 to 2004." (Id. at ¶ 7.)

Therefore, G. Acevedo claims that MDHS willfully violated the ADEA by (1) terminating his employment "without cause," and (2) replacing him with a younger person. (Id. at ¶¶ 8-10.)

G. Acevedo alleges that the defendants' actions (1) deprived him of "pension rights to which he would have otherwise been entitled if continued in the employ of [MDHS]," and (2) caused him "humiliation, anxiety, emotional distress, [and] pain and suffering." (Id. at ¶ 12.) L. Acevedo also asserts a loss of consortium claim against the defendants. (Id. at 3.)

The defendants now move to dismiss G. Acevedo's ADEA claim arguing that (1) he failed to set forth a prima facie case of age discrimination under the ADEA, and (2) the ADEA does not provide for individual liability as to Gere. (Defs. Br., at 1.) Also, the defendants move to dismiss L. Acevedo's loss of consortium claim, arguing that a loss of consortium claim is not viable if based on an underlying claim of discrimination. (Id.) The Court will address each of these arguments in turn.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review for 12(b)(6) Motion

A complaint may be dismissed for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). On a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept as true all of the factual allegations in the complaint, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Doe v. Delie, 257 F.3d 309, 313 (3d Cir. 2001). "Dismissal of claims under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate only if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of [the] claim upon which relief may be granted." Jakomas v. McFalls, 229 F.Supp.2d 412, 419 (W.D. Pa. 2002).

The Court, when considering a motion to dismiss, may generally not "consider matters extraneous to the pleadings." In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997). However, if the Court exercises discretion and permits a party to present matters outside the pleadings, the Court must (1) convert the motion to dismiss into one for summary judgment, and (2) allow the parties a reasonable opportunity to present all material pertinent to such a motion under Rule 56. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b). An exception to this general rule is that the Court may consider (1) exhibits attached to the complaint, (2) matters of public record, and (3) all documents that are integral to or explicitly relied upon in the complaint without converting the motion to dismiss into one for summary judgment.*fn2 Angstadt v. Midd-West Sch. Dist., 377 F.3d 338, 342 (3d Cir. 2004) (citation omitted).

The defendants, moving to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), rely on materials beyond the allegations of the amended complaint, including filings and correspondence relating to G. Acevedo's administrative proceedings, a declaration from the defendants' counsel, Caroline J. Berdzik, Esq., with attached exhibits, and an affidavit signed by Gere. (See Defs. Br.; Berdzik Decl. & Exs.; Defs. Reply Br.; Gere Aff.)*fn3 The plaintiffs contend that if the Court considers these materials that we should convert the defendants' motion to dismiss into one for summary judgment. (Pls. Br., at 1-2.)*fn4

The Court will, in addition to the amended complaint and the briefs submitted by the parties, consider only the following document submitted by the defendants, which is integral to or explicitly relied upon in the plaintiffs' pleading: G. Acevedo's 10-29-04 Charge. (Berdzik Decl., at Ex. A.) The other materials submitted by the defendants are neither relied upon by the plaintiffs, nor integral to the amended complaint. Documentation such as (1) warnings MDHS provided to G. Acevedo, (2) e-mails or correspondence from parents, (3) G. Acevedo's alleged "resignation letter", or (4) MDHS statistics regarding ...


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