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WELCH v. BOARD OF DIRS. OF WILDWOOD GOLF CLUB

February 16, 1995

MARCIA WELCH, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF WILDWOOD GOLF CLUB and BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF STONE LODGE, INC., individually, and in their official capacities, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DONALD J. LEE

 February 16, 1995

 Before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment of Defendants (Document No. 278) and Memorandum of Law in Opposition thereto.

 I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

 This is a class action for declaratory and injunctive relief and damages, brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985(3). The class is comprised of women members of Wildwood Golf Club and women spouses of Club members who had Club privileges during the period from July 11, 1988 to July 11, 1990. In their § 1983 claim, Plaintiffs contend that Defendants violated their constitutional rights, namely their rights to be free from sexual discrimination, to travel freely, to contract and to conduct business. Nominal plaintiff Marcia Welch ("Welch") alleges that her right to effect a marital dissolution and equitable distribution of marital property by order of state court was also violated.

 Plaintiffs' § 1985(3) claim asserts that Defendants conspired to engage in the gender discriminatory conduct that the § 1983 claim is based on. Amended Complaint, P 2. Welch has also brought a pendent state law claim, alleging tortious interference with her business relations and with prospective contractual relations. Amended Complaint, P 5.

 Welch is an ex-spouse of a former member of the Wildwood Golf Club in Allison Park, Pennsylvania, who sought to have her husband's membership transferred to her after their divorce. The defendants include the Board of Directors of Wildwood Golf Club ("Wildwood"), a Pennsylvania corporation, and the Board of Directors of Stone Lodge, Inc. ("Stone Lodge"), also a Pennsylvania corporation, which owns the real estate on which Wildwood and Stone Lodge conduct their business and social activities. Neither Wildwood nor Stone Lodge are defendants in this action.

 Plaintiffs allege that Wildwood's rules are discriminatory because only males members can continue to be Class A members upon the death of, or divorce from, their spouses. Upon Welch's divorce, Wildwood refused to grant her request to transfer membership and Wildwood stock certificates from Thomas Welch to Marcia Welch, which both ex-spouses desired. *fn1" The Board of Directors allegedly then advised Ms. Welch that effective March 31, 1990, she would no longer be a member of Wildwood.

 II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

 Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure reads, in pertinent part, as follows:

 
[Summary judgment] shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is not genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

 In interpreting Rule 56(c), the United States Supreme Court has stated:

 
The plain language . . . mandates entry of summary judgment after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. In such a situation, there can be no genuine issue as to material fact, since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the non-moving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.

 Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986).

 An issue of material fact is genuine only if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). The court must view the facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party and the burden of establishing that no genuine issue of material fact exists rests with the movant. Id. at 242. The "existence of disputed issues of material fact should be ascertained by resolving 'all inferences, doubts and issues of credibility against the moving party.'" Ely v. Hall's Motor Transit Co., 590 F.2d 62, 66 (3d Cir. 1978) (quoting Smith v. Pittsburgh Gage & Supply Co., 464 F.2d 870, 8874 (3d Cir. 1972)). Final credibility determinations on material issues cannot be made in the context of a motion for ...


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