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Lauterborn v. R & T Mechanical. Inc.

January 3, 2006

KIMBERLY LAUTERBORN, PLAINTIFF
v.
R & T MECHANICAL, INC., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Muir

(Complaint filed 03/17/05)

ORDER

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:

On March 17, 2005, Plaintiff Kimberly Lauterborn initiated this action by filing a complaint in which she alleges that Defendant R & T Mechanical, Inc. (hereinafter "R & T Mechanical"), violated the Federal Equal Pay Act and the Pennsylvania Equal Pay Law.

On December 1, 2005, R & T Mechanical filed a motion for summary judgment and a supporting brief. In its motion R & T Mechanical states that the motion was filed "in accordance with F.R.C.P. 1286." The reference to Rule 1286 is erroneous because no such Federal Rule of Civil Procedure exists. On December 2, 2005, R & T Mechanical filed an amended summary judgment motion to correct the error and to refer to the proper rule, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Lauterborn filed a brief opposing the summary judgment motion on December 16, 2005. R & T Mechanical filed its reply brief on December 23, 2005, thereby ripening for disposition its summary judgment motion.

Summary judgment is appropriate only when there is no genuine issue of material fact which is unresolved and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Summary judgment should not be granted when there is a disagreement about the facts or the proper inferences which a fact finder could draw from them. Peterson v. Lehigh Valley Dist. Council, 676 F.2d 81, 84 (3d Cir. 1982). "When a motion for summary judgment is made and supported as provided in ...[Rule 56], an adverse party may not rest upon mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleading...." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e).

Initially, the moving party has a burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corporation v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). This may be met by the moving party pointing out to the court that there is an absence of evidence to support an essential element as to which the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 325.

Rule 56 provides that, where such a motion is made and properly supported, the adverse party must show by affidavits, pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). The United States Supreme Court has commented that this requirement is tantamount to the non-moving party making a sufficient showing as to the essential elements of their case that a reasonable jury could find in its favor. Celotex Corporation v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

When addressing a motion for such a judgment, our inquiry focuses on "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to the jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)(emphasis added). As summarized by the Advisory Committee On Civil Rules, "[t]he very mission of the summary judgment procedure is to pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 advisory committee note to 1963 Amendment.

Before discussing the substantive merit's of the summary judgment motion, one preliminary threshold matter needs to be addressed. Lauterborn argues that R & T Mechanical's motion should summarily be denied because it was filed after the December 1, 2005, deadline for dispositive motions. This argument has merit only if the original motion filed on that date is disregarded, and the amended summary judgment motion filed on December 2, 2005, is considered to be the only one on the docket.

Lauterborn has given us no reason to ignore the motion filed by R & T Mechanical on December 1, 2005. Surely no prejudice has befallen Lauterborn as a result of the filing of the amended summary judgment motion on December 2, 2005. Although we consider the original motion to have been superseded by the amended motion for summary judgment, the filing of the original motion was within the deadline set for dispositive motions. Consequently, we will deny the initial summary judgment motion because it has been superseded, and will proceed to address the merits of the amended motion for summary judgment.

The United States Supreme Court has stated that in order to prevail on a claim brought under the Federal Equal Pay Act a plaintiff is required to prove "that an employer pays different wages to employees of opposite sexes 'for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions.'" Corning Glass Works v. Brennan, 417 U.S. 188, 195, 94 S.Ct. 2223, 2228 (1974)(quoting 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1)). R & T Mechanical first contends that it is entitled to summary judgment with respect to Lauterborn's Federal Equal Pay Act claim because she is unable to set forth facts sufficient to proceed to trial on her claim that she performed equal work to her male counterparts but was paid less than her male counterparts in violation of the Equal Pay Act[.] (Brief in Support of Summary Judgment Motion, p. 5)

The undisputed material facts establish that Lauterborn was employed by R & T Mechanical from June 8, 1994, to some point in July of 2004. Lauterborn was initially paid $9.00 per hour (which was the amount she requested when hired), and received raises over time which increased her wages to $12.25 per hour by the time her employment with R & T Mechanical ended. All persons working for R & T Mechanical were classified as laborers.

However, in addition to those facts, it is necessary to consider how Lauterborn's pay compares to that of her male co-workers who performed "equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are ...


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