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Gardoski v. Pats Aircraft, LLC

United States District Court, D. Delaware

December 7, 2018

JOHN C. GARDOSKI, Plaintiff,
v.
PATS AIRCRAFT, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, d/b/a ALOFT AEROARCHITECTS, Defendant.

          William D. Fletcher, Jr., Gary E. Junge, Schmittinger & Rodriguez, P.A., Dover, DE - attorneys for Plaintiff

          Margaret M. DiBianca, Smith Katzenstein Jenkins LLP, Wilmington, DE - attorneys for Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NOREIKA, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is the motion of Defendant Pats Aircraft, LLC, d/b/a ALOFT Aeroarchitects ("Defendant" or "ALOFT") to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, asserting that Plaintiff John G. Gardoski ("Plaintiff) has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (D.I. 6). For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies Defendant's motion to dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was employed by Defendant from April 2006 to February 13, 2017. (D.I. 1 ¶¶ 9, 12, 16). During his employment, Plaintiff held the position of "Materials Stockroom III" at Defendant's Georgetown, Delaware location and was assigned to work during the first shift. (Id. ¶ 10). On or about January 1, 2017, Plaintiff took approved medical leave, pursuant to the Family Medical and Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq., due to his affliction with colon cancer. (Id. ¶ 12). While Plaintiff was on approved medical leave, Defendant placed another employee - who had previously worked the second shift - into the vacancy created by Plaintiffs absence. (Id. ¶ 14). On February 13, 2017, Plaintiff returned to work from leave. (Id. ¶ 12). That same day, Plaintiff was given a letter stating that he was being terminated "as a result of a workforce reduction," and was "eligible for rehire and [was] welcome to apply for any positions" that might be available in the future. (Id. ¶ 19, Ex. B). Additionally, Plaintiff was given a document titled "Agreement and General Release" (the "Release"), which outlined a release of claims against Defendant in exchange for consideration in the amount of $4, 699.20. (Id. ¶ 20, Ex. C). The Release includes the following provisions that are relevant to ALOFT's motion (id, ):

4. General Release of Claims. Employee knowingly and voluntarily releases and forever discharges the Employer . . ., of and from any and all claims, known and unknown, asserted or unasserted, which Employee has or may have against [ALOFT] as of the date of execution of this Agreement and General Release, including but not limited to, any alleged violation of. . . any other federal, state or local law, rule, regulation or ordinance; any public policy, contract, tort or common law. . . .[1]
8. Governing Law and Interpretation, This Agreement and General Release shall be governed and conformed in accordance with the laws of Delaware ....
11. Entire Agreement. This Agreement and General Release sets forth the entire agreement between the Parties hereto, and fully supersedes any prior agreements or understandings between the Parties. Employee acknowledges that Employee has not relied on any representations, promises, or agreements of any kind made to Employee in connection with Employee's decision to accept this Agreement and General Release .... (emphasis added).
EMPLOYEE IS ADVISED THAT EMPLOYEE HAS UP TO FORTY-FIVE (45) DAYS TO CONSIDER THIS AGREEMENT AND GENERAL RELEASE. EMPLOYEE ALSO IS ADVISED TO CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY PRIOR TO EMPLOYEE'S SIGNING OF THIS AGREEMENT AND GENERAL RELEASE.
EMPLOYEE MAY REVOKE THIS AGREEMENT AND GENERAL RELEASE FOR A PERIOD OF SEVEN (7) CALENDAR DAYS FOLLOWING THE DAY EMPLOYEE SIGNS THIS AGREEMENT AND GENERAL RELEASE.
EMPLOYEE FREELY AND KNOWINGLY, AND AFTER DUE CONSIDERATION, ENTERS INTO THIS AGREEMENT AND GENERAL RELEASE INTENDING TO WAIVE, SETTLE AND RELEASE ALL CLAIMS EMPLOYEE HAS OR MIGHT HAVE AGAINST RELEASEES.

         On February 17, 2017, Plaintiff signed the Release. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that he relied upon the statement that he was "eligible for rehire and [] welcome to apply for any position that [ALOFT] may have open in the future," when he executed the Release. (D.I. 1 ¶ 30).[2] Following his termination, Plaintiff learned that his direct supervisor told colleagues that it was concerns of future job performance and attendance related to Plaintiffs cancer diagnosis that led to his termination. (Id. ¶¶ 21-22, 24). Moreover, Plaintiff learned his supervisor said he "would not hire Plaintiff in the future." (Id. ¶ 23).

         On October 17, 2017, Plaintiff filed his Complaint alleging that his was fraudulently induced into signing the Release, and that had he known that Defendant had no intention of rehiring him in the future, he would not have executed the agreement. (Id. ¶ 31). Plaintiff also alleges that because he took approved FMLA leave: (1) he was "subject to the alleged RIF," (2) his position was not held for him, and (3) he suffered an "adverse decision [] causally related to his medical leave," in violation of the statute. (Id. ¶¶ 33-38). Plaintiff asserts that FMLA claims are not covered under the Release or, alternatively, that the Release is voidable because he relied on Defendant's fraudulent misrepresentation that he would be re-hirable at a later date. (See, e.g., D.I. 8 at 4-5).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). When reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court conducts a two-part analysis. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). First, the Court separates the factual and legal elements of a claim, accepting "all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but [disregarding] any legal conclusions." Id. at 210-11. Second, the Court determines "whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show ... a 'plausible claim for relief.'" Id. at 211 (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009)). A claim is facially plausible where "plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Further, "[t]he complaint must state enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of [each] necessary element" of the plaintiffs claim. Wilkerson v. New Media Tech. Charter Sch. Inc., 522 F.3d 315, 321 (3d Cir. 2008) (internal quotations omitted).

         "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) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)). The court may grant a motion 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, [the] plaintiff is not entitled to relief." Id. "In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must consider only the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, as well as undisputed authentic documents if the complainant's claims are based upon these documents." Mayer v. Belichick, 605 F.3d 223, 230 (3d Cir. 2010) (emphasis added).

         III. ...


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