United States District Court, D. New Jersey
J. HAGERTY HAGERTY & BLAND-TULL LAW LLC MOORESTOWN TIMES
SQUARE On behalf of Plaintiff
MICHAEL R. MILLER MARGOLIS EDELSTEIN On behalf of Defendants
L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
case concerns Defendants' alleged violation of the New
Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). Presently before
the Court is Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings and Plaintiff's Cross-Motion to Amend the
Complaint. For the reasons expressed below, Defendant's
motion will be granted in part and denied in part, and
Plaintiff's motion will be granted.
our brief recitation of the facts from Plaintiff's
initial complaint. Plaintiff was hired by Defendant Leggett
& Platt, Inc. (“L&P”) in 1982, where he
remained until 1989. He resumed employment with L&P in
1994, eventually rising to Director of Sales in 2009 and
Senior Vice President of Sales in 2013. In April 2014,
Defendant John Case was hired as President.
December 21, 2015, Plaintiff informed Robert Newcombe, the
Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, that Bobby
Keen, an employee at L&P, was sexually harassing a female
employee. No action was taken by Newcombe or Case following
January 2016, Plaintiff was informed that his employment was
being terminated and he was given a severance package on
January 15, 2016. Plaintiff claims he was terminated
“in retaliation for his reporting the sexually
harassing conduct of Keen, in violation of the New Jersey Law
Against Discrimination.” Plaintiff filed a complaint
against Defendant on May 23, 2016. The complaint alleges
retaliation and aiding and abetting under the NJLAD. It also
alleges Defendants are liable for punitive damages. The
matter was removed to this Court on August 11, 2016 based on
diversity jurisdiction. Defendants filed a Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings on February 10, 2017. Plaintiff
filed a Cross-Motion to Amend the Complaint on March 6, 2017.
12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings may be filed after
the pleadings are closed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c); Turbe v.
Gov't of V.I., 938 F.2d 427, 428 (3d Cir. 1991). In
analyzing a Rule 12(c) motion, a court applies the same legal
standards as applicable to a motion filed pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6). Turbe, 938 F.2d at 428. Thus, 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).
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 Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 583 (2007) (quoting Scheuer v.
Rhoades, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)); see also
Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d
Cir. 2008) (stating 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 Coat Factory Sec. Litig.,
114 F.3d 1410, 1429-30 (3d Cir. 1997). The defendant bears
the burden of showing that no claim has been presented.
Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir.
2005) (citing Kehr Packages, Inc. v. Fidelcor, Inc.,
926 F.2d 1406, 1409 (3d Cir. 1991)).
a motion for judgment on the pleadings, ” the court
“reviews not only the complaint but also the answer and
any written instruments and exhibits attached to the
pleadings.” Perelman v. Perelman, 919
F.Supp.2d 512, 520 n.2 (E.D. Pa. 2013).
establish a prima facie case of discriminatory
retaliation, plaintiffs must demonstrate that: (1) they
engaged in a protected activity known by the employer; (2)
thereafter their employer unlawfully retaliated against them;
and (3) their participation in the protected activity caused
the retaliation.” Craig v. Suburban
Cablevision, 660 A.2d 505, 508 (N.J. 1995); ...