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Foster v. JLG Industries

January 30, 2006

JAMES E. FOSTER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JLG INDUSTRIES, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sylvia H. Rambo United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 74.) The parties have briefed the issue, and the matter is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the court will grant Defendant's motion.

I. History

A. Factual

The factual history of this case is well known to both parties; thus, the court need not recite the facts in full. Relevant to the instant motion are the following facts. Plaintiff was employed by JLG as the Supervisor of Tool Design and Manufacturing. On January 13, 1997, Plaintiff was suspended from his employment with JLG based on charges of sexual harassment. On January 14, 1997, Plaintiff contacted an attorney who advised Plaintiff to sign up for unemployment benefits and file a claim based on age discrimination with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. On January 20, 1997, Plaintiff was informed that he was terminated from JLG based upon charges of sexual harassment.

B. Procedural

After numerous attempts, Plaintiff filed a third amended complaint (Doc. 46) on February 28, 2005 that was in conformity with the court's orders and the Local Rules. Plaintiff's third amended complaint included claims based on Title VII, the ADEA, fraud, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985, defamation of character, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Named as defendants in Plaintiff's third amended complaint were the following: (1) JLG; (2) Samuel Swope, Vice President of Human Relations-JLG; (3) Jeanne Wakefield, Human Resources-JLG; (4) Eugene Swope, Manager-JLG; (5) Duane Souders, Manager-JLG (collectively known as the "JLG Defendants"). Also named was the law firm of Kollman and Saucier, PA, and attorneys Clifford Geiger, Peter Saucier, and Frank Kollman (collectively known as the "Kollman Defendants").

On June 6, 2005, the court granted in part and denied in part the named Defendants' motion to dismiss. (Doc. 55.) Specifically, the court dismissed all of Plaintiff's claims except for a retaliation claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA").*fn1 29 U.S.C. § 623. On June 16, 2005, the court granted the named Defendants' motion for reconsideration of its June 6, 2005 order and provided that the only remaining Defendant was JLG Industries.*fn2 (Doc. 57.) On July 8, 2005, the court denied Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration of its June 6, 2005 order. (Doc. 62.) Thus, the only issue before the court is whether Defendant JLG violated the provisions of the ADEA.*fn3

On December 15, 2005, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. On January 5, 2005 Plaintiff filed the following responsive brief and motion entitled: "Plaintiff's Motion & Brief Denying Summary Judgment and Request This Court to Termi[n]ate Court Order Dated June 6, 2005 in its Entrly [sic] & proceed under Plaintiff['s] Amended Claims Dated February 27, 2005 and Proceed to Trial by Jury." (Doc. 78.) Defendant filed a reply brief on January 17, 2005.

II. Legal Standard: Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is proper when "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); accord Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 231-32 (3d Cir. 2001). A factual dispute is "material" if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual dispute is "genuine" only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis which would allow a reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id. at 249. The court must resolve all doubts as to the existence of a genuine issue of material fact in favor of the non-moving party. Gans v. Mundy, 762 F.2d 338, 341 (3d Cir. 1985); see also Reeder v. Sybron Transition Corp., 142 F.R.D. 607, 609 (M.D. Pa. 1992).

Once the moving party has shown that there is an absence of evidence to support the claims of the non-moving party, the non-moving party may not simply sit back and rest on the allegations in its complaint. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). Instead, he must "go beyond the pleadings and by [his] own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, and designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Id. (internal quotations omitted); see also Saldana, 260 F.3d at 232 (citations omitted). Summary judgment should be granted where a party "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 at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23. " 'Such affirmative evidence -- regardless of whether it is direct or circumstantial -- must amount to more than a scintilla, but may amount to less (in the evaluation of the court) than a preponderance.' " Saldana, 260 F.3d at 232 (quoting Williams v. Borough of West Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 460-61 (3d Cir. 1989)).

III. Discussion

The ADEA provides that it is "unlawful for an employer . . . to fail or refuse or otherwise to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's age." 29 U.S.C. ยง ...


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