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SHERBACK v. WRIGHT AUTO. GROUP

December 12, 1997

JOHN SHERBACK, Plaintiff,
v.
WRIGHT AUTOMOTIVE GROUP, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LEE

 December 12, 1997

 After due consideration of defendant Wright Automotive Group's Motion for Summary Judgment with brief in support, plaintiff John Sherback's response and brief in opposition, and the affidavits, documents and other materials submitted in support of and in opposition to summary judgment, this Court will deny defendant's motion for summary judgment because there exist genuine issues of material fact as to whether plaintiff is disabled as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD") within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 United States Code § 12101 - § 12117 ("ADA"), and as to whether defendant terminated plaintiff from employment for which he was qualified because of said disability.

 Summary Judgment Standards

 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 no 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., 477 U.S. 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, 874 (3d Cir. 1972). Final credibility determinations on material issues cannot be made in the context of a motion for summary judgment, nor can the district court weigh the evidence. Josey v. Hollingsworth Corp., 996 F.2d 632 (3d Cir. 1993); Petruzzi's IGA Supermarkets, Inc. v. Darling-Delaware Co., 998 F.2d 1224 (3d Cir. 1993).

 When the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party's burden can be "discharged by 'showing' -- that is, pointing out to the District Court -- that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. If the moving party has carried this burden, the burden shifts to the non-moving party who cannot rest on the allegations of the pleadings and must "do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986); Petruzzi's IGA Supermarkets, 998 F.2d at 1230. When the non-moving party's evidence in opposition to a properly supported motion for summary judgment is "merely colorable" or "not significantly probative," the Court may grant summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50.

 "One of the most common forms of evidence used on a summary judgment motion is affidavits . . . in support of or opposition to a Rule 56 motion. . . ." Wright, Miller & Kane, 10A Federal Practice and Procedure, § 2722 at 54. Hearsay evidence contained in affidavits and deposition testimony may be sufficient to survive summary judgment motion unless such evidence clearly would not be admissible at trial. Clark v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 885 F. Supp. 694, 709 n. 3 (E.D. Pa. 1995), citing Petruzzi's IGA Supermarkets, 998 F.2d at 1234 n. 9.

 Americans with Disabilities Act

 "No covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability because of the disability of such individual in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment." ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a). A plaintiff asserting an ADA claim bears the initial burden of establishing a prima facie case of unlawful discrimination, which, in an indirect evidence case, he meets by demonstrating: (1) he is a member of a protected class in that he has a "disability"; (2) he is qualified for the position in that he can perform the work with reasonable accommodations; (3) he has suffered an adverse employment decision as a result of discrimination; and (4) he was replaced by a person not belonging to the protected class. Olson v. General Elec. Astrospace, 101 F.3d 947, 951 (3d Cir. 1996) 1; Newman v. GHS Osteopathic, Inc., 60 F.3d 153, 157 (3d Cir. 1995). Once a plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, the burden shifts to the employer to demonstrate legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for the employment decision. Olson, 101 F.3d at 951. Once the employer has met this burden of production, it is incumbent upon the plaintiff to show that the asserted ...


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