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Martin v. Port Authority Transit Corp.

March 25, 2010

MELANIE M. MARTIN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PORT AUTHORITY TRANSIT CORPORATION AND BRAHMAN B. LEVY, DEFENDANTS.



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

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on the motions of Defendant Port Authority Transit Corporation ("PATCO") and Defendant Doctor Brahman B. Levy ("Dr. Levy") to dismiss Plaintiff, Melanie M. Martin's, Complaint. For the reasons expressed below, both motions to dismiss will be granted and Plaintiff's Complaint will be dismissed.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a female who applied for a train operator position with PATCO in January 2006.*fn1 PATCO's main business offices are located in Camden, New Jersey and Lindenwold, New Jersey. Shortly after applying for a position with PATCO, she began its three stage employment selection process, which consisted of four written proficiency exams (Phase I); a physical agility test (Phase II); and an oral interview (Phase III). In July 2006, Plaintiff received a phone call from Denise Andrews, PATCO's Human Resources Services Administrator, who offered Plaintiff a train operator position. During this conversation, Plaintiff disclosed to Ms. Andrews that she was eight months pregnant. In response, Ms. Andrews agreed to hold Plaintiff's job offer open until the next training period. On September 11, 2006, Plaintiff contacted Ms. Andrews to inform her that she was medically cleared to return to work by October 18, 2006. Ms. Andrews told Plaintiff that there was no new training class scheduled, but she would continue to hold Plaintiff's job offer open. Thereafter, in April 2007, Ms. Andrews contacted Plaintiff telling her she would begin her new job on June 4, 2007.

On May 14, 2007, Plaintiff was sent to Stratford, New Jersey for a medical examination with Dr. Brahman B. Levy, whom Plaintiff alleges is an employee or agent of PATCO. Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Levy told her that she was medically fine, except for her weight, and proceeded to question her as to how she received a job offer from PATCO, as several people he knew had not been successful in obtaining a position. Plaintiff also alleges that Dr. Levy's medical examination mainly consisted of the doctor pressing her stomach.

The day after Plaintiff's medical examination with Dr. Levy, she was informed that she had passed the substance abuse exam, but was asked to attend a second agility test at PATCO's offices at the Lindenwold High Speed Line. Plaintiff alleges that it is highly unusual for a prospective PATCO job applicant to be required attend a second physical agility test. Dr. Levy was among those present at Plaintiff's second agility test. Plaintiff alleges that Ms. Andrews told her that physicians generally never attend agility tests. Subsequently, on June 1, 2007, Plaintiff received a letter from Kelly Forbes, Director of Human Resource Services for PATCO, explaining that her offer of employment with PATCO has been withdrawn based on her medical examination with Dr. Levy.

Plaintiff alleges that after Denise Andrews told Plaintiff that she would hold Plaintiff's job offer open on September 11, 2006, Plaintiff refrained from seeking a good-paying, career-oriented job based upon the expectation that she would soon start working for PATCO. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that she "believes" she could have returned to her former job at the Sony Plant in Pitman, New Jersey, but in fairness to Sony, did not pursue this opportunity because she expected to be working for PATCO "very soon."

Plaintiff filed her Complaint in this matter against PATCO and Dr. Levy in the Superior Court of New Jersey-Law Division, Camden County, on May 12, 2009. Defendants filed a notice of removal to this Court on June 26, 2009. Defendants now move to dismiss the complaint.

DISCUSSION

A. Jurisdiction

This Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's discrimination and conspiracy claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, see Cuyler v. Adams, 449 U.S. 433, 438 (1981) ("The construction of a bi-state compact that has been consented to by Congress pursuant to the Compact Clause presents a federal question."), and supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's breach of contract/promissory estoppel claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

B. Standard for Motion to Dismiss

When considering a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), a court must accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 351 (3d Cir. 2005). It is well settled that a pleading is sufficient if it contains "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Under the liberal federal pleading rules, it is not necessary to plead evidence, and it is not necessary to plead all the facts that serve as a basis for the claim. Bogosian v. Gulf Oil Corp., 562 F.2d 434, 446 (3d Cir. 1977). However, "[a]lthough the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require a claimant to set forth an intricately detailed description of the asserted basis for relief, they do require that the pleadings give defendant fair notice of what the Plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Baldwin County Welcome Ctr. v. Brown, 466 U.S. 147, 149-50 n.3 (1984) (quotation and citation omitted).

A district court, in weighing a motion to dismiss, asks "'not whether a Plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claim.'" Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 562 n.8 (2007) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhoades, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1953 (2009) ("Our decision in Twombly expounded the pleading standard for 'all civil actions' . . . ."); Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (stating that the "Supreme Court's Twombly formulation of the pleading standard can be summed up thus: 'stating . . . a claim requires a complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest' the required element. This 'does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage,' but instead 'simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' the necessary element"). A court need not credit either "bald assertions" or "legal conclusions" in a complaint when deciding a motion to dismiss. In re Burlington ...


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