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Joseph Mirocha v. Palos Community Hospital

August 22, 2012

JOSEPH MIROCHA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PALOS COMMUNITY HOSPITAL, . AN ILLINOIS CORPORATION, AND KEN LASH, INDIVIDUALLY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Joseph Mirocha filed an eight-count complaint against his former employer, Palos Community Hospital ("PCH"), and his former manager, Ken Lash, primarily asserting claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). Before the Court is Defendants' motion [17] to dismiss parts of Count II and Counts IV-VIII for failure to state a claim. For the reasons stated below, the motion [17] is granted.

I. Background*fn1

PCH, a hospital located in Palos Heights, Illinois, hired Mirocha in 2003 as an electrical supervisor in the electrical/physical plant department; he was 51 years old at the time. [2 at ¶¶ 3, 14-15.] As an electrical supervisor, Mirocha supervised assigned employees' work to ensure that it conformed with established procedures, policies, and regulations. [2 at ¶ 16.]

In 2010, the electrical shop facilitated a large electrical infrastructure cut-over. [2 at ¶ 21.] On December 30, Lash gave Mirocha a verbal warning and 30 days to bring the electrical department's database into full compliance. [2 at ¶ 17.] This task was not within Mirocha's job description. [2 at ¶ 19.] Rather, PCH's policies state that department managers, like Lash, are responsible for such issues. [2 at ¶¶ 24, 27.] On February 4, 2011, Lash gave Mirocha a written warning for failing to fulfill his job duties, citing electrical database deficiencies. [2 at ¶ 17.]

On February 18, Mirocha complained to human resources that he was being discriminated against because of his age. [2 at ¶ 28.] On March 4, Lash showed Mirocha a file memorandum indicating that Mirocha had satisfied Lash's earlier concerns. [2 at ¶ 29.] On March 8, however, Lash issued a revised memorandum, recanting his praise of Mirocha. [2 at ¶ 30.] At some point, Lash also wrote in a file memorandum that "[Mirocha's] most significant failure as the electrical supervisor has been his inability to identify what his job duties are and then to work well independently." [2 at ¶ 26.]

On March 28, Mirocha filed a charge of discrimination against PCH with the EEOC, alleging age discrimination and retaliation. [2 at ¶ 32, 18-1.] On April 8, Mirocha's employment was terminated. [2 at ¶ 33.] A human resources representative and Lash were present, but neither discussed the reasons for Mirocha's termination. [2 at ¶ 33.] That same day, Mirocha was escorted off the premises by a security guard. [2 at ¶ 35.] On April 11, Mirocha filed a second charge of discrimination against PCH with the EEOC, alleging retaliation. [2 at ¶ 2, 18-2.]

Rich Chapan, who was under 40 years old at the time, worked in PCH's plant engineering department, which underwent the same infrastructure cut-over as the electrical shop. [2 at ¶ 22.] Chapan and others employees in his department, however, were not warned or disciplined like Mirocha was. [2 at ¶ 22.]

On July 5, Mirocha filed a complaint in federal court, alleging eight counts: Count I (unlawful termination under the ADEA against PCH), Count II (retaliation under the ADEA, Title VII, and Section 1981 against PCH), Count III (retaliation under state law against PCH), Count IV (breach of agreement against PCH), Count V (defamation against PCH), Count VI (defamation against Lash), Count VII (negligent infliction of emotional distress against PCH), and Count VIII (intentional infliction of emotional distress against PCH). PCH answered Count I, some of Count II, and Count III. [20.] PCH moved to dismiss the remaining counts pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). [17.]

II. Legal Standard

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint, not the merits of the case.See Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the complaint first must comply with Rule 8(a) by providing "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," such that the defendant is given " 'fair notice of what the * * * claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.' " Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Second, the factual allegations in the complaint must be sufficient to raise the possibility of relief above the " 'speculative level.' " E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 127 S. Ct. at 1965, 1973 n.14). "[O]nce a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint." Twombly, 127 S. Ct. at 1969.

III. Analysis

PCH moves to dismiss parts of Count II and Counts IV-VIII for failure to state a claim. The Court will ...


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