United States District Court, D. Delaware
Patrick C. Gallagher, CURLEY, DODGE, & FUNK, LLC, Dover, DE
Attorney for Plaintiff.
E.M. Russell, YOUNG CONAWAY STARGATT & TAYLOR, LLP,
Wilmington, DE Jacqueline R. Barrett and Phillip R. Combs,
OGLETREE, DEAKTNS, NASH, SMOAK & STEWART, P.C., Philadelphia,
PA Attorneys for Defendants Epic Health Services, Inc. and
Epic Health Services (DE), LLC.
U.S. District Judge
before the Court is Defendant Epic Health Services,
Inc.'s ("Epic") motion to dismiss. (D.I.
For the following reasons, the Court will grant in part and
deny in part the motion.
Poe-Smith is employed by Epic as a home health aide.
(See D.I. 16 at ¶ 6) In February 2015, she was
assigned by Epic to work for a client residing in the home of
Leo and Sherrie Weigand. (See Id. at ¶ 12) From
February 2015 until May 2015, Mr. Weigand sexually harassed
Ms. Poe-Smith by directing sexual innuendos and inappropriate
comments toward her. (See Id. at ¶¶ 13-14)
Ms. Poe-Smith alleges that Mr. Weigand's inappropriate
behavior culminated on May 12, 2015, when Mr. Weigand
physically assaulted her. (See Id. at ¶¶
25-29) According to Ms. Poe-Smith, Mr. Weigand "bought
her a maid's costume while on vacation" and
"told her she would have to model it."
(Id. at ¶ 27) When Ms. Poe-Smith left the room,
Mr. Weigand followed her, and "then pushed Ms. Poe-Smith
with his open palms on her shoulder blades with full force,
" causing her to "f[a]ll forward, bending at the
waist. He then smacked her on her buttocks."
(Id. at ¶ 28)
Poe-Smith reported the incident to Epic on May 15, 2015.
(See Id. at ¶ 34) Ms. Poe- Smith admits that,
before that date, she "did not complain to Epic about
Mr. Weigand's harassment of her." (Id. at
¶ 20) Nevertheless, Ms. Poe-Smith alleges that Epic
should have been aware of Mr. Weigand's behavior based on
his interactions with a supervisor at Epic, as well as the
Weigands' history with other home healthcare services.
(See Id. at ¶¶ 18, 21-24) In particular,
"Mr. Weigand had been calling [Ms. Poe-Smith's
supervisor] Meghan Williams on the telephone and sexually
harassing her during the same time that Ms. Poe-Smith was
working in Mr. Weigand's home." (Id. at
¶ 22) Additionally, Mr. Weigand called Ms. Williams to
ask whether he could give Ms. Poe-Smith gifts, such as a
pedicure. (See Id. at ¶ 38)
days after Ms. Poe-Smith reported Mr. Weigand's behavior,
Epic offered her a new assignment. (See Id. at
¶ 48) Ms. Poe-Smith declined the offer because the job
started at 7:30 a.m. and was an hour from her home. (See
id.) After that initial offer, Epic continued to give
her "offers for assignments that were only two to three
hours sporadically or serving as a back-up aide, " but
Epic also "assured Ms. Poe-Smith there were plenty of
cases and plenty of new cases coming in every day."
(Id. at ¶ 49) On May 29, 2015, Epic offered Ms.
Poe-Smith another full-time assignment, which she also turned
down. (See Id. at ¶ 50) Then, in June 2015, Ms.
Poe-Smith accepted a full-time assignment from Epic. (See
Id. at ¶ 51)
March 2016, Ms. Poe-Smith submitted a Charge of
Discrimination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
("EEOC") against all four defendants - Epic Health
Services, Inc., Epic Health Services (DE), LLC, Leo Weigand,
and Sherrie Weigand - which the EEOC dismissed. (See
Id. at ¶¶ 8-9) Following the dismissal, Ms.
Poe-Smith brought the present action, alleging, among other
things, that Epic discriminated against her on the basis of
sex (Count I) and retaliated against her for reporting Mr.
Weigand's sexual harassment (Count II). (See
D.I. 16 at¶¶ 53-69) Epic moved to dismiss both
counts. (D.I. 17) The Court heard oral argument on February
15, 2017. (D.I. 29)
a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) requires the Court to accept as true all material
allegations of the complaint. See Spruill v. Gillis,
372 F.3d 218, 223 (3d Cir. 2004). "The issue is not
whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the
claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the
claims." In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec.
Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1420 (3d Cir. 1997) (internal
quotation marks omitted). Thus, the Court may grant such a
morion to dismiss only if, after "accepting all
well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, and
viewing them in the light most favorable to plaintiff,
plaintiff is not entitled to relief." Maio v. Aetna,
Inc., 221 F.3d 472, 481-82 (3d Cir. 2000) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
"[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a civil plaintiff
must allege facts that 'raise a right to relief above the
speculative level on the assumption that the allegations in
the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).'"
Victaulic Co. v. Tieman, 499 F.3d 227, 234 (3d Cir.
2007) (quoting BellAtl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible "when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). At bottom, "[t]he complaint
must state enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation
that discovery will reveal evidence of [each] necessary
element" of a plaintiff s claim. Wilkerson v. New
Media Tech. Charter School Inc., 522 F.3d 315, 321 (3d
Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Court is not obligated to accept as true "bald
assertions, " Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist,
132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks
omitted), "unsupported conclusions and unwarranted
inferences, " Schuylkill Energy Res., Inc. v. Pa.
Power & Light Co., 113 F.3d 405, 417 (3d Cir. 1997), or
allegations that are "self-evidently false, "
Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 69 (3d Cir. 1996).