Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Riley v. Potter

January 7, 2010

RONALD RILEY AND GEORGE H. LEWIS, JR., ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
JOHN E. POTTER, POSTMASTER GENERAL, AND FRANK BONGIOVANNI, UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, DEFENDANTS.



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

OPINION

Before the Court is Defendants John E. Potter ("Potter") and Frank Bongiovanni's ("Bongiovanni") (collectively, "Defendants") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs Ronald Riley ("Riley") and George H. Lewis, Jr.'s ("Lewis") (collectively, "Plaintiffs") Class Action Complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and dismissing additional claims against them pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and (6) (the "Motion"). This Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343. Venue is proper in this District pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391. The Motion is decided without oral argument pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 78. For the reasons discussed below, the Court grants Defendants' Motion.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Riley and Lewis were both disabled employees of the United States Postal Service ("USPS") and worked at the Dominick V. Daniels Processing and Distribution Center ("DVD"). Plaintiffs seek to bring a class action complaint on behalf of themselves and others "who were separated from employment and/or assigned to 'light duty' at the DVD in late 2007 or early 2008 pursuant to USPS' National Reassessment Process (NRP)." (Pls.' Compl. and Jury Demand ¶ 8 (hereinafter "Compl.").) Potter is the Postmaster General of the USPS. (Id.. ¶ 5.) Bongiovanni is the Senior Plant Manager and the "highest ranking USPS official at the DVD." (Id. ¶ 6.)

Riley began working for the USPS in 1987. (Id. ¶ 3.) In 1994, Riley became mentally impaired and was diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder. (Id. ¶¶ 13-15.) Because of his disability Riley can not perform certain duties such as operating machinery but he maintains that he is still qualified to perform the functions of numerous other USPS positions. (Id. ¶¶ 16, 17.) In 1997, Riley began a reasonable accommodation process with the USPS, which placed him in jobs requiring him to do "prep" work or sort manual letters. (Id. ¶¶ 15, 18.) For over the past 10 years, Riley has worked regular hours without any discipline in these rehabilitation assignments. (Id. ¶ 21.)

In or about 2006, the USPS initiated a National Reassessment Process ("NRP"), which reviewed the status of disabled employees. (Id. ¶ 22.) On December 13, 2007, Riley gave the USPS a medical update from his treating physician, which he regularly submitted throughout the years. (Id. ¶¶ 20, 25.) About two days later, a USPS official told Riley that there was no available work and that he was being sent home as a result of his disability. (Id. ¶ 26.) Subsequently, Riley sent the USPS letters that requested reasonable accommodation, to no avail. (Id. ¶¶ 27, 43.) Riley contacted EEO on or about April 10, 2008. (Decl. of Eriberto Cedeno ¶ 5 (hereinafter "Cedeno Decl.").)*fn1 On or about April 14, 2008, Riley filed an EEO Complaint of Discrimination based on mental disability. (Compl., Ex. A) The USPS issued a Final Agency Decision on January 7, 2009, after the filing of this Complaint. (Cedeno Decl. ¶ 9; Compl. ¶ 2.) The decision states that Riley "failed to state a claim for disability discrimination, and that the agency had legitimate and nondiscriminatory reasons for its actions." (Cedeno Decl. ¶ 9.)

The USPS hired Lewis in 1963. (Compl. ¶ 30) While employed with the USPS between 1979 and 1996, Lewis suffered numerous back injuries, culminating in a permanent back injury in 1996. (Id. ¶¶ 31, 32.) Due to his disability, Lewis was assigned to a permanent rehabilitation job, which he performed for about 12 years. (Id. ¶¶ 35, 36.) However, on or about January 23, 2008, Lewis was told to go home because there was no available work due to his physical disability. (Id. ¶ 37.) Subsequently, Lewis submitted numerous letters to the USPS requesting reasonable accommodation and provided a medical update from his physician; however, like Riley, his efforts were rejected. (Id. ¶¶ 38, 39.) Furthermore, Defendants refused to reinstate Lewis "unless he sign[ed] an affidavit swearing that his former USPS work assignment was a 'light duty' assignment," which Lewis contends it was not. (Compl. ¶¶ 40, 41.) He then contacted the EEO on or about March 18, 2008. (Cedeno Decl. ¶ 10.) On or about April 28, 2008, Lewis filed an individual administrative complaint for discrimination based on physical disability and age. (Id. ¶ 11.) On September 26, 2008, Lewis received the USPS Final Agency Decision, "which found that Plaintiff Lewis had failed to state a claim for age or disability discrimination, and that the agency had legitimate and nondiscriminatory reasons for its actions." (Compl., Ex. B.)

On October 21, 2008, Plaintiffs filed a Class Action Complaint seeking, among other things, damages, equitable and injunctive relief for violations of the Rehabilitation Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("LAD"). Plaintiffs allege on behalf of themselves and the prospective class that even though they were "terminated from employment, forced to retire and/or offered only 'light duty' assignments because of their disability[,]" the work they previously performed still exists, and non-disabled workers have been assigned to these jobs. (Compl. ¶¶ 44, 45.) Additionally, in the Complaint, Riley and Lewis also seek individual relief for the Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress and violations of the Fourteenth Amendment, and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983(a).

MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARD

The adequacy of pleadings is governed by Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), which requires that a complaint allege "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." This Rule "requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations omitted); Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008) (Rule 8 "requires a 'showing' rather than a blanket assertion of an entitlement to relief.").

In considering a Motion to Dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6),*fn2 the Court must "'accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the Plaintiff may be entitled to relief."' Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Pinker v. Roche Holding Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002)). However, "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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). As the Supreme Court has explained:

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." 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. The plausibility standard is not akin to a "probability requirement," but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are "merely consistent with" a defendant's liability, it "stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of "entitlement to relief.'"

Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556--57, 570) (internal citations omitted). Determining whether the allegations in a complaint are "plausible" is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937 at 1950. If the "well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct," Id. at 1950, the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.