United States District Court, D. Delaware
Johnson, New Castle, Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff.
Michelle Ennis, Esquire, Margolis Edelstein, Wilmington,
Delaware. Counsel for Defendant.
ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JTIDGE.
Paul Johnson, who appears pro se and has been
granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, filed
this action on August 5, 2016. (D.I. 2). Plaintiff brings
this action under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42
U.S.C. § 12101. Defendant moves to dismiss the Complaint
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (D.I. 13). Plaintiff
opposes. (D.I. 14). Briefing on the motion is complete.
time of his discharge, Plaintiff was employed by Defendant as
a dispatcher. The Complaint alleges that employment
discrimination by reason of disability occurred on March 19,
2015, when Plaintiffs employment was
alleges that he has a physical impairment, heart failure,
that substantially limits a major life activity.
(Id. at ¶¶ 14, 16-19). Following a
heart-related medical hospitalization, Plaintiff was able to
return to work by wearing an automated external defibrillator
("AED"). (Id. at ¶¶ 16, 17).
Plaintiff wore the AED from June 28, 2014 forward.
(Id. at ¶ 18) He alleges that the AED allowed
him to perform the essential functions of his job, and
Defendant permitted him to wear the AED as a reasonable
alleges that in about January 2015, he received a "meets
expectations" for his nine-month performance review as a
dispatcher in the Southeast Region of the company.
(Id. at ¶ 12). Plaintiff was transferred to the
Northeast Region on February 2, 2015. (Id.).
Plaintiff alleges that the Northeast Region was understaffed,
had consistent problems retaining dispatchers to work in the
region, and dispatchers were transferred from the Northeast
Region and reassigned upon their evaluations of "not
meeting expectations." (Id.).
March 3, 2015, Plaintiff was "coached by Defendant on
how to improve his job performance. (Id. at ¶
21). On March 9, 2015, Plaintiff requested an extended leave
of absence under the Family Medical Leave Act for necessary
heart surgery. (Id. at ¶ 20). Plaintiff was
given thirty days of non-paid FMLA leave, and Defendant
offered Plaintiff the opportunity to work from home during
recovery from surgery as a reasonable accommodation.
(Id.). The surgery was postponed, and Plaintiff was
allowed to return to work on March 11, 2015. (Id. at
¶ 21). Plaintiff was terminated on March 19, 2015 for
his "alleged poor performance as the dispatcher for the
Northeast Region." (Id.). Plaintiff alleges his
employment was terminated because he requested a leave of
absence under the FMLA and that Defendant's reason for
the termination was a pretext for firing him. (Id.).
Plaintiff alleges that other similarly situated,
non-disabled, individuals were reassigned out of the
Northeast Region, and he was not. (Id.) Plaintiff
seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as
moves for dismissal pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
proceeds pro se and, therefore, his pleadings are
liberally construed and his complaint, "however
inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Under Rule 12(b)(6),
a motion to dismiss may be granted only if, accepting the
well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and viewing
them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, a court
concludes that those allegations "could not raise a
claim of entitlement to relief." Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 558 (2007). "Though
'detailed factual allegations' are not required, a
complaint must do more than simply provide 'labels and
conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action.'" Davis v.
Abington Mem'l Hosp., 765 F.3d 236, 241 (3d Cir.
2014) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In
addition, a plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to show
that a claim has substantive plausibility. See Johnson v.
City of Shelby, ___U.S.___, 135 S.Ct. 346, 347 (2014). A
complaint may not dismissed, however, for imperfect
statements of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted.
See id. at 346.
reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, a court should
follow a three-step process: (1) consider the elements
necessary to state a claim; (2) identify allegations that are
merely conclusions and therefore are not well-pleaded factual
allegations; and (3) accept any well-pleaded factual
allegations as true and determine whether they plausibly
state a claim. See Connelly v. Lane Constr. Corp.,809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016); Williams v. BASF
Catalysts LLC,765 F.3d 306, 315 (3d Cir. 2014).
Deciding whether a claim is plausible will be a