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COX v. MASTER LOCK CO.

March 23, 1993

JAMES F. COX
v.
MASTER LOCK CO.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BY THE COURT; JAY C. WALDMAN

 WALDMAN, J.

 March 23, 1993

 Plaintiff asserts a claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), alleging that defendant terminated his employment because of his age. Defendant has moved for summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff was not an "employee" of defendant and thus is not entitled to the relief sought as a matter of law.

 I. LEGAL STANDARD

 A motion for summary judgment requires the court to consider whether the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file, and affidavits, show there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). Only facts that may affect the outcome of a case under applicable law are "material." "The mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Id. at 247-48.

 All reasonable inferences from the record must be drawn in favor of the non-movant. Id. at 255. Although the movant has the initial burden of demonstrating an absence of genuine issues of material fact, the non-movant must then establish the existence of each element on which it bears the burden of proof. See J.F. Feeser, Inc. v. Serv-A-Portion, 909 F.2d 1524, 1531 (3d Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 113 L. Ed. 2d 246, 111 S. Ct. 1313 (1991) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986)).

 II. FACTS

 The pertinent facts are uncontroverted or set forth in a light most favorable to plaintiff, and are as follow.

 From 1972 until 1986, Mr. Cox worked as an "Independent Manufacturer's Representative" ("IMR") for Master Lock pursuant to a series of written agreements executed by Master Lock and Jimcox, Inc., an entity incorporated by plaintiff. Pursuant to the agreements, Mr. Cox was authorized to sell defendant's products in a territory encompassing northeastern Pennsylvania and portions of Philadelphia. The agreement in effect in August 1986 had been executed on March 1, 1985. Mr. Cox maintained and worked out of an office in Glenside and then Ambler, Pa. The defendant corporation manufactures locks and is headquartered in Milwaukee.

 Either party had a right to terminate the IMR agreement by written notice to the other at any time and for any reason. The agreement provided that the sole basis of compensation was commissions on sales. Plaintiff assumed responsibility for payment of travel, insurance, office, equipment, supply and any other expenses which were incurred by him in the performance of the contract. Jimcox, Inc. had full responsibility for the withholding and payment of social security and income taxes for plaintiff. Jimcox was given discretion to conduct its business in "such manner as it sees fit."

 Jimcox was not allowed to sell products manufactured by defendant's competitors or to sell at prices other than those set by Master Lock. Master Lock had the right to accept or reject any orders placed with plaintiff. Plaintiff was required to submit sales and marketing reports to defendant. *fn1"

 Mr. Cox was not required to report physically to defendant at any time but was required to maintain telephone contact. He set his own work hours and vacation times, and received no pension or insurance benefits from defendant. Mr. Cox received no sales training or performance reviews from Master Lock. On two occasions between May and August of 1986, he was visited by defendant's regional sales manager who accompanied and observed plaintiff while he made several sales calls. When asked at his deposition if it was true that his sales efforts were not supervised by Master Lock, plaintiff testified "That's correct." The agreement specified that Jimcox had "no authority ...


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