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MASONHEIMER v. COLONIAL PENN INS. CO.

April 15, 1997

DOREENE MASONHEIMER
v.
COLONIAL PENN INSURANCE COMPANY



The opinion of the court was delivered by: PADOVA

 Padova, J.

 April 15, 1997

 Plaintiff, Doreene Masonheimer, brings this action against her former employer, Colonial Penn Insurance Company, for age and sex discrimination and for discrimination on the basis of disability. Before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons that follow, the Motion is granted.

 I. Facts

 Plaintiff, a 49 year-old white female, began working for Defendant in 1978 and over the years held a series of positions with increasing responsibility. In 1991, while on a business trip to California, Plaintiff experienced three epileptic seizures, as a result of which she was hospitalized and forced to miss a week of work. Notwithstanding her condition, for which she received medical treatment, Plaintiff continued to work for Defendant. Between late 1993 and early 1994, Plaintiff switched job titles from Senior Property Claims Examiner, in which capacity she reported to Patricia Bingham, to Home Office Consultant (Property), in which capacity she reported to James Ackroyd. As a Home Office Consultant (Property), Plaintiff's salary grade was 17. Plaintiff contends that her epilepsy was aggravated by the fact that Mr. Ackroyd would occasionally yell at her. Plaintiff claims that she advised Mr. Ackroyd of the fact that his periodic screaming exacerbated her epilepsy and asked him to cease.

 Defendant contends that by the summer of 1994, the insurance claims referred to the Home Office from its homeowner/property business declined to the point where it became uneconomical to retain the position of Home Office Consultant (Property), which was dedicated to processing homeowner/property claims. Instead, Defendant decided to shift responsibility for auditing homeowner claims from the Home Office to the field offices. On June 28, 1994, Mr. Ackroyd informed Plaintiff that her current position was to be eliminated as of July 19, 1994, at which point she was to be transferred to the Automobile Insurance Plan Claim Unit ("AIP Unit"). In her new position, Plaintiff would retain the same salary, though her salary grade was to drop to 16.

 On July 6, 1994 Plaintiff became ill and unable to report to work. At the time this suit was filed, Plaintiff had still not returned to work. In November 1994, Plaintiff filed an action with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and a parallel action with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. Plaintiff received Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC on July 26, 1996.

 Plaintiff contends that the transfer announced on June 28, 1994 from Home Office Consultant (Property) to the AIP Unit was a demotion motivated by sex, age and disability discrimination. Plaintiff presents claims under the: (1) Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C.A. §§ 621-634 (West 1985 and Supp. 1996) ("ADEA") (Count I); (2) Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 2000(e)-(e)(17) (West 1994 and Supp. 1996) ("Title VII") (Count II) and; (3) Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 12101-12213 (West 1995) ("ADA") (Count III). Plaintiff seeks backpay, frontpay, lost pension benefits, compensatory and punitive damages, costs and attorneys' fees.

 II. Legal Standard

 Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) provides that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). An issue is "genuine" only if there is sufficient evidence with which a reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986). Furthermore, bearing in mind that all uncertainties are to be resolved in favor of the nonmoving party, a factual dispute is only "material" if it might affect the outcome of the case. Id. A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986). Where the non-moving party bears the burden of proof on a particular issue at trial, the movant's initial Celotex burden can be met simply by "pointing out to the district court that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325, 106 S. Ct. at 2554. After the moving party has met its initial burden, summary judgment is appropriate if the non-moving party fails to rebut by making a factual showing "sufficient to establish an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Id. at 322, 106 S. Ct. at 2552.

 III. Discussion

 Defendant contends that Plaintiff cannot establish a prima facie case of discrimination on the basis of age, sex or disability. Alternatively, Defendant contends that even if Plaintiff does establish a prima facie case for age, sex and disability discrimination, those claims still fail because she is unable to rebut successfully Defendant's ...


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