United States District Court, D. Delaware
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
R. Fallon, United States Magistrate Judge
before the court in this age discrimination action is a
motion filed by defendant B & G Machine, Inc.
("B&G") for judgment on the pleadings pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). (D.I. 44) For the
following reasons, the court recommends DENYING
defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings.
29, 2018, plaintiff John Bianchi ("Mr. Bianchi")
originally filed this action against B&G in the Superior
Court of Washington, asserting claims arising from his
termination from his employment. (D.I. 1, Ex. 1) On July 18,
2018, the case was removed to the United States District
Court for the Western District of Washington by defendant
B&G pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1441, and
1446. (D.I. 1) On July 25, 2018, B&G filed a motion to
transfer venue. (D.I. 7) On September 11, 2018, the Western
District of Washington granted B&G's motion to
transfer venue and directed that the case be transferred to
this court. (D.I. 15)
February 22, 2019, plaintiff filed an amended complaint (the
"First Amended Complaint"). (D.I. 33) On March 8,
2019, B&G filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings.
(D.I. 35) On March 29, 2019, plaintiff filed a second amended
complaint (the "Second Amended Complaint"). (D.I.
41) On April 12, 2019, B&G filed the present motion for
judgment on the pleadings. (D.I. 44)
case arises out of defendant's alleged age discrimination
in terminating Mr. Bianchi's employment. Counts 1 and 2
of the Second Amended Complaint allege age discrimination in
violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634, and in
violation of Washington's law against age discrimination
("WLAD"), Wash. Rev. Code §§
49.60.010-.510. (D.I. 41 at ¶¶ 30-36)
was born on August 27, 1944 and was 73 years old when he was
terminated from his employment on February 28, 2018.
(Id. at ¶¶ 5-6) Plaintiff was a
"part-owner" of B&G, a Washington based
business, until he sold the company to H-E Parts in August
2013. (Id. at ¶ 8) Thereafter, the parties
agreed that plaintiff would remain an employee for an
additional three years. (Id.)
20, 2015, B&G's Chief Operating Officer, Mike Coffey
("Mr. Coffey"), wrote an email to plaintiff,
stating that B&G wanted to ensure that the long-term
leadership had "some runway behind them when we sell the
company." (Id. at ¶ 9; D.I. 46, Ex. A) Mr.
Coffey also stated that it was important to identify both the
founder and the "new blood" to potential buyers.
(D.I. 41 at ¶ 11) On July 29, 2015, B&G changed
plaintiffs job responsibilities from that of an executive to
those of a technical advisor. (Id. at ¶ 13)
August 2016, the three-year term expired for plaintiffs
employment, but he continued to work for B&G.
(Id. at ¶ 14) On April 19, 2017, plaintiff
indicated that he wished to continue working for B&G, and
inquired whether his age was a factor in his continued
employment. (Id. at ¶ 15) Mr. Coffey responded
that "all companies need new blood," but that
plaintiff would be employed as long as he was healthy and
performing. (Id. at ¶¶ 15-16) On April 20,
2017, Mr. Coffey emailed plaintiff and referenced an
agreement for plaintiff to work another two years for
B&G. (Id. at¶17)
September 2017, Mr. Coffey informed one of plaintiff s sons
that plaintiff would be terminated because of an incident
involving a former B&G employee. (Id. at ¶
19) On January 31, 2018, Mr. Coffey informed plaintiff that
his last day would be February 28, 2018. (Id. at
¶ 20) When plaintiff responded that he wished to remain
employed, Mr. Coffey stated that his "history and
reputation cast a large shadow and the business needs for
Eric, Bill and the Seattle team to gain their footing."
(Id.) Plaintiffs two sons, who are approximately
twenty to thirty years younger than plaintiff, remained
employed with B&G. (Id. at ¶ 21) Around the
time of plaintiffs termination, B&G hired Eric Lentz
("Mr. Lentz"), who was approximately 39 years old.
(Id. at ¶ 22) Mr. Lentz "replaced
Plaintiff at [B&G] for all intents and purposes."
(Id.) On February 2, 2018, Mr. Coffey informed
plaintiffs sons that they were a critical part of
B&G's future and that it was time to move on from
plaintiffs termination. (Id. at ¶ 23) On March
1, 2018, Mr. Coffey informed several B&G employees that
plaintiffs termination was by agreement. (Id. at
¶ 24) On March 28, 2018, Mr. Coffey informed plaintiff
that he was terminated due to the results of a diligence
assessment that indicated that former owners should be
transitioned out to allow new management an opportunity for
success. (Id. at ¶ 25) Plaintiff alleges that
he was healthy, performed well, and was an asset to B&G
at all relevant times. (Id. at ¶ 27) However,
Mr. Coffey consistently made representations that there
needed to be "new blood" and "new ideas"
in management and a potential for new growth. (Id.
at ¶ 29)