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Reinard v. Harsco Corp.

September 23, 2006

JANE REINARD, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS ADMINISTRATIX OF THE ESTATE OF DENNIS REINARD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HARSCO CORP. AND SHERWOOD/HARSCO, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny United States District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

In this case, Plaintiff, the administratrix of her late husband's estate, alleges that the Defendant corporation wrongfully terminated her husband, and thereby caused him to commit suicide. Currently before this Court is Defendant's*fn1 Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion is granted in its entirety.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual History

The following facts, which are alleged in the Amended Complaint, are assumed true for the purposes of the instant motion. Mr. Reinard worked as a machinist for Defendant Harsco Corporation ("Harsco") at its facility in Lockport, New York, from September 11, 1978, through May 21, 2003. (Am. Comp., ¶¶ 4, 12, 19). This facility is known as Sherwood-Harsco GasServ ("SHG"). (Am. Comp., ¶ 4). On May 21, 2003, during a lunch break, a Harsco supervisor observed Mr. Reinard, who was 50 years old, and his co- worker, David Easterbrook, who was 30 years old, sitting in Mr. Reinhard's vehicle drinking beer. (Am. Comp., ¶¶ 15, 59, 60). A Harsco representative accompanied Mr. Reinhard and Mr. Easterbrook to Lockport Memorial Hospital for an alcohol and drug test. (Am. Comp., ¶ 48(c)). When Mr. Reinard tested positive for alcohol use, he immediately requested treatment for alcoholism and depression, but the Harsco representative forced him to leave the hospital "against medical advice and without evaluation or treatment." (Am. Comp., ¶¶ 48(c), (d)). Mr. Easterbrook tested positive for marijuana, but not alcohol. (Am. Comp., ¶ 21).

On May 27, 2003, Harsco held a disciplinary hearing during which Mr. Reinard was not represented by counsel or a representative from his union, United Auto Workers Local 686 ("UAW 686"). (Am. Comp., ¶¶ 13, 18). By letter dated May 30, 2003, Harsco notified Mr. Reinard that his employment was terminated effective May 21, 2003. (Am. Comp., ¶ 27). Mr. Easterbrook, who had worked for Harsco for only five years, was not terminated. (Am. Comp., ¶¶ 21, 23).

At the time of Mr. Reinard's termination, UAW 686 represented the SHG bargaining unit of which Mr. Reinard was a member. (Am. Comp., ¶ 13). As such, the terms and conditions of Mr. Reinard's employment were governed by UAW Local 686's Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA") with Harsco. (Am. Comp., ¶ 13). The CBA sets forth a broad grievance and arbitration procedure. (Def.'s Mem., Ex. A, pp. 10-21).*fn2 However, Plaintiff does not allege that Mr. Reinard availed himself of those procedures.

On May 31, 2003, after Harsco advised him of his termination, Mr. Reinard committed suicide. Prior to his death, Mr. Reinard was taking Paxil and Zoloft to treat his depression. (Am. Comp., ¶ 8). On May 25, 2005, the Niagara County Surrogate's Court issued Preliminary Letters Testamentary to Plaintiff, qualifying her as the Administratrix of Mr. Reinard's Estate. (Am. Comp., ¶ 6).

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff filed a complaint on behalf of herself and her husband's estate in New York State Supreme Court, Niagara County on May 27, 2005. Defendant removed this case to the United States District Court for the Western District of New York on October 17, 2005. Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on January 5, 2006. The Amended Complaint alleges seven causes of action for wrongful discharge, wrongful death, negligence, prima facie tort, intentional tort, violation of the New York Human Rights Law ("NYHRL"), and violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA").

On February 3, 2006, Defendant filed the instant Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Rule 12 (b)(6).*fn3 On April 21, 2006, this Court heard oral argument on Defendant's Motion, during which Plaintiff's counsel conceded that: (1) SHG, which is neither a subsidiary nor a legal entity distinct from Harsco Corp., is not a proper defendant (Tr., p. 3);*fn4 (2) Plaintiff's intentional tort claims are time-barred pursuant to New York Civil Practice Law and Rules § 215(3) (Tr., pp. 18, 20); (3) Plaintiff's ADEA claim is barred because it has not been exhausted administratively (Tr., p. 19);and (4) Plaintiff's individual claims are not proper because she had no relationship with Harsco (Tr., p. 26).*fn5 Following oral argument, this Court reserved decision on Plaintiff's remaining claims.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Motion To Dismiss ...


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