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Heller v. Consolidated Rail Corp.

February 20, 2007

RICHARD J. HELLER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CONSOLIDATED RAIL CORPORATION, UNITED TRANSPORTATION UNION, CSX TRANSPORTATION, U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, AND NORTHFOLK SOUTHERN CORPORATION. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas J. McAVOY, Senior United States District Judge

DECISION & ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Richard J. Heller ("Plaintiff") commenced thisaction pro se against five defendants*fn1 seeking damages for employment discrimination pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12213. Plaintiff also claims retaliation pursuant to §704(a) of Title VII, § 4(d) of the ADEA, and §§ 503(a) and (b) of the ADA. Defendant United Transportation Union ("UTU") moves to dismiss the claims against it pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure alleging that, inter alia, the claims are barred by the applicable statute of limitations. For the reasons that follow, the motion is GRANTED and Plaintiff's claims against the UTU are DISMISSED.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The pending motion tests the legal sufficiency of the claims pleaded in the complaint. As the Supreme Court has held, "a complaint must only include 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)). "This simplified notice pleading relies on liberal discovery rules and summary judgment motions to define disputed facts and issues and to dispose of unmeritorious claims." Id. Thus, a complaint is sufficient if it gives the defendant fair notice of the plaintiff's claims, the grounds upon which they rest, and states claims upon which relief could be granted. Id. at 514.

On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court accepts as true all factual allegations in the complaint. See Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 164 (1993). "Further, the court should construe the complaint liberally and draw inferences from the plaintiff's allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Tomayo v. City of N.Y., 2004 WL 137198, at * 5 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 27, 2004)(citing Desiderio v. National Ass'n of Sec. Dealers, Inc., 191 F.3d 198, 202 (2d Cir. 1999)). Still further, where the complaint is by a pro se litigant, in addition to construing the complaint liberally, the Court must also apply a more flexible standard in evaluating its sufficiency. Taylor v. Dep't of Educ., 313 F3d 768, 776 (2d Cir. 2002). However, "sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations" do not suffice to state a claim even at the Rule 12(b)(6) stage. 5A Charles Alan Wright et al., FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE § 1357 (2d ed. 1990). "While the pleading standard is a liberal one, bald assertions and conclusions of law will not suffice." Leeds v. Meltz, 85 F.3d 51, 53 (2d Cir. 1996).

Law Offices of Curtis V. Trinko, L.L.P. v. Bell Atlantic Corp., 309 F.3d 71, 74 (2d Cir. 2002). Thus, the complaint must allege sufficient facts that would make the pleaded legal theories legally plausible. See Twombly v. Bell Atlantic Corp., 425 F.3d 99, 111 (2d Cir. 2005).

In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, review "is generally limited to the facts and allegations that are contained in the complaint and in any documents that are either incorporated into the complaint by reference or attached to the complaint as exhibits." Blue Tree Hotels Inv., Ltd. v. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., 369 F.3d 212, 217 (2d Cir. 2004)(citations omitted). In addition, the Court may look to public records, including records of actions filed in other courts. Id. (citations omitted). Dismissal is appropriate only where "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief," Phillip v. Univ. of Rochester, 316 F.3d 291, 293 (2d Cir. 2003)(citation omitted), or where the complaint fails as a matter of law. Phelps v. Kapnolas, 308 F.3d 180, 187 (2d Cir. 2002).

III. BACKGROUND

To say the least, the allegations in the Complaint are confusing, rambling, and disjointed. Having thoroughly reviewed the Complaint and the voluminous attachments to the Complaint, the following facts appear to be those underlying the claims against the UTU.

On July 19, 1976, while employed by Consolidated Rail Corporation ("Conrail") as a conductor, Plaintiff suffered a work related injury. Compl.¶ 2; Compl. Ex. 1, p. 9.*fn2

Thereafter, Plaintiff sought compensation for his injury by bringing a suit under the Federal Employers Liability Act, 45 U.S.C. § 51 et seq. (FELA).SeeHeller v. Conrail, Civ. Case No. 76-3595 (E.D.Pa.), aff'd, 594 F.2d 854 (3d Cir. 1978). Plaintiff contends that the employer paid its doctors and witnesses to lie while under oath resulting in a verdict against him. Compl. Ex. 1, p. 9. He further contends that the day after the verdict, the employer and "a U.T.U. lawyer offered [him] [an] $80,000.00 settlement if [he] would quit [his] job." Id. He declined. Id. Plaintiff asserts that "[i]n 1980 [he] was released for duty (work) but Respondent illegally withheld me from working through discrimination, retaliation, conspiracy, criminal crimes and assault and battery." Id.*fn3

In addition, Plaintiff applied for and received Social Security Disability benefits for twenty years from 1976 to 1996. Compl. Ex. 7, p.10. In 1996, he was deemed no longer eligible to receive those benefits. Id. Further, Plaintiff has applied for and been denied a Railroad Retirement annuity purportedly because as he is lacking the requisite number of months of employment.*fn4 Id. at 13; see also Compl. Ex. 1, p. 9. Subsequently, Plaintiff attempted to return to railroad employment. See Compl. Ex. 3; Compl. Ex. 8. However, disputes regarding his medical condition appear to have precluded his return to such employment. Id.

Plaintiff primarily alleges that he was discriminated against by all defendants from July 19, 1976 to the present time based on his contention that he "has been illegally with held [sic] from his job." Compl. p. 8, ΒΆ 2. He additionally alleges that all defendants "formed a malicious conspiracy, obstruction of justice, have committed criminal crimes and etc." in order to "hoodwink" him out of his job and denied him "his legal right to work under a reasonable accommodation and/or a different type of work/position." Id. In this regard, he contends that he has a "legal right to work/perform only one (1) days [sic] service in a month" and thereby become eligible for railroad retirement/ disability benefits and etc." Id. He claims that Defendant UTU failed to "protect/represent" him and joined with the other alleged "conspirators" to deprive him of his job, lost wages, UTU membership ...


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