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Coates v. Cooper Health System/Cooper University Health Care

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 7, 2014

VALARIE D. COATES, Plaintiff,
v.
COOPER HEALTH SYSTEM/COOPER UNIVERSITY HEALTH CARE, Defendant.

OFFICE OF GERALD POMERANTZ, Barak Kassutto, Esq., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Counsel for Plaintiff.

BROWN & CONNERY LLP, Christine P. O'Hearn, Esq., Eric D. Milavsky, Esq., Westmont, New Jersey, Counsel for Defendant.

OPINION

JOSEPH E. IRENAS, Sr., District Judge.

Plaintiff Valarie Coates, a nurse, brings this wrongful termination suit against her former employer, Defendant Cooper Health System. Cooper presently moves to dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. For the reasons stated herein, the Motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

I.

The Amended Complaint alleges the following facts.

In February, 2011, Coates applied for a senior management Obstetrical Clinical Educator position at Cooper. Coates progressed through three rounds of interviews but Cooper selected another applicant already employed by Cooper. When Cooper's Human Resources Specialist, Bernadette Collins called Coates to inform her of the decision, Collins stated that Coates was a very strong candidate and that "they had wanted her on their team." (Amend. Compl. ¶ 18)

In June, 2011, Coates accepted a different position with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

Close to a year later, in May, 2012, Collins called Coates to inquire whether Coates was still interested in the position at Cooper. Collins explained that "there had been an unexpected illness... that had resulted on the Clinical Educator's position vacancy." (Amend. Compl. ¶ 23) Collins asked whether Coates "would consider leaving her current position if she were offered" the position with Cooper. (Amend. Compl. ¶ 24) Coates said yes, and shortly thereafter, Coates interviewed once again at Cooper.

On May 17, 2012 Coates "was offered and verbally accepted" the Clinical Educator position. Cooper then sent Coates the following letter:

Dear Valerie,
Congratulations! I am delighted that you have chosen to join us at Cooper University Hospital. You've joined a highly committed and talented team.... Our commitment extends to you as well; Cooper is proud to offer abundant opportunities for development and career growth, and we are confident that you will enjoy a very rewarding career with us.
As discussed, you have accepted our offer to join the Clinical Educators Department as a full-time Clinical Educator II. Your compensation will be $45.67 per hour, and your start date is anticipated to be July 23, 2012. Our offer of employment is contingent upon your passing a pre-placement medical examination, including drug/alcohol screening, background check and receipt of references satisfactory to Cooper University Hospital. Continuation of employment will be based on the successful completion of the standard three-month probationary period.... Your employment is at-will, which means you or Cooper may terminate the ...

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