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BRADFORD v. LUZERNE COUNTY

September 28, 2005.

MARY RENEE BRADFORD, Plaintiff,
v.
LUZERNE COUNTY, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. CAPUTO, District Judge

MEMORANDUM

Before me is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. (Doc. 53.)

This case involves Plaintiff's claim that she was terminated by Defendants, Peter Paul Olszewski, Jr., then the District Attorney of Luzerne County,*fn1 and Stephanie Wychock, Office Administrator of the District Attorney's Office, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a) and Plaintiff's claim that Defendants, Barbara Harned, Sharon Prokopchak, Debbie Orzello, Colleen Pavlick, Paula Schnelly and Denise Brill violated 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3).

  Because Plaintiff has not presented sufficient evidence of a conspiracy, Defendants' motion will be granted as to the § 1985(3) claim. Because Plaintiff has failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination, Defendants' motion will be granted as to the Title VII claim. Specifically, Plaintiff has not presented any evidence that her position remained open to similarly qualified applicants after her dismissal or that she was replaced by someone outside the protected class. Furthermore, had Plaintiff established a prima facie case of discrimination, she still failed to point to any evidence from which a factfinder could determine that Defendants' proffered legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for her dismissal was actually pretextual in nature. Therefore, Defendants' motion for summary judgment will be granted as two both claims.

  STANDARD

  Summary judgment is appropriate 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 a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). A fact is material if proof of its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable substantive law. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

  Where there is no material fact in dispute, the moving party need only establish that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Where, however, there is a disputed issue of material fact, summary judgment is appropriate only if the factual dispute is not a genuine one. See id. at 248. An issue of material fact is genuine if "a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id.

  Where there is a material fact in dispute, the moving party has the initial burden of proving that: (1) there is no genuine issue of material fact; and (2) the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT & ARTHURR. MILLER, FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE: CIVIL 2D § 2727 (2d ed. 1983). The moving party may present its own evidence or, where the nonmoving party has the burden of proof, simply point out to the Court that "the nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing of an essential element of her case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

  All doubts as to the existence of a genuine issue of material fact must be resolved against the moving party, and the entire record must be examined in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See White v. Westinghouse Elec. Co., 862 F.2d 56, 59 (3d Cir. 1988). Once the moving party has satisfied its initial burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to either present affirmative evidence supporting its version of the material facts or to refute the moving party's contention that the facts entitle it to judgment as a matter of law. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-257.

  The Court need not accept mere conclusory allegations, whether they are made in the complaint or a sworn statement. Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, "the judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249.

  DISCUSSION

  A. Section 1985(3)

  42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) provides:

  [I]n any case of conspiracy set forth in this section, if one or more persons engage therein do, or cause to be done, any act in furtherance of the object of such conspiracy, whereby another is injured in his person or property, or deprived of having and exercising any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States, the party so injured or deprived may have an action for recovery of the damages occasioned by such injury or deprivation, against any one or more of the conspirators. To establish a claim under § 1985(3), Plaintiff must prove (1) a conspiracy; (2) motivated by a racial or class based animus designed to deprive, directly or indirectly, the plaintiff of equal protection of the laws; (3) an act in furtherance of the conspiracy; and, (4) an injury or ...


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