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Harris v. Supervalu Holdings-PA LLC

June 4, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge


I. Introduction

This is an action for employment discrimination. Pro se plaintiff, Dana L. Harris ("Harris"), a former employee at SuperValu Shop N Save, alleges that defendants, SuperValu Holdings-PA LLC ("SuperValu"), Ellen Damico ("Damico"), and Wendy Bell ("Bell") (collectively referred to as "Defendants") discriminated against her on the basis of her religion, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2 ("Title VII"). Plaintiff is seeking damages in the amount of $3.5 million.

Pending before this Court is defendants' motion for summary judgment (doc. no. 48). After careful consideration of the motion for summary judgment, plaintiff's response, the memoranda of law in support and in opposition to summary judgment, the Joint Statement of Undisputed Facts and the record properly before the Court, and for the reasons that follow, this Court will grant defendants' motion for summary judgment.

II. Procedural Background

Plaintiff was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis and she filed her complaint on August 23, 2006 (doc. no.3). On November 27, 2006, this Court held the initial case management conference, at which the parties agreed and the Court ordered that based upon plaintiff's pro se status, a mediation before United States Magistrate Judge Francis X. Caiazza would be proper. The Court, upon conferring with parties, entered a Case Management Order and a Pretrial Order, and scheduled the Final Pretrial Conference for June 27, 2007, and the trial date for July 2, 2007.

Mediation was conducted before Judge Caiazza on December 12, 2006 but the case did not settle. (Minute Entry, doc. no. 22). Following the mediation, a status conference was held on February 9, 2007 with several results. The Court issued a (First) Revised Case Management Order and a (First) Revised Pretrial Order. These orders set new deadlines for Summary Judgment at April 10, 2007 and the response on April 20, 2007. (Doc. no. 23). The trial date was re-scheduled for June 4, 2007. (Doc. no. 24). Additionally, the parties agreed to another session of private mediation with Attorney James Logan. Private counsel was appointed for plaintiff in a pro bono capacity during the mediation process and defendants agreed to be responsible for the entire cost of the mediation. (Doc. no. 27). The mediation did not result in a settlement.

Defendants filed a motion to extend the time for case management deadlines (doc. no. 28) and this Court granted the motion, by issuing a (Second) Revised Case Management Order and a (Second) Revised Pretrial Order with new deadlines: April 20, 2007 for discovery, May 2, 2007 for summary judgment, May 15, 2007 for responses, and June 5, 2007 for trial. (Docs. no. 29 and 30).

Plaintiff filed on April 9, 2007, a "Motion to Request Extension on Summary Judgment" (as submitted by plaintiff, doc. no. 33). On April 11, 2007, that motion was denied due to a failure to attach a proposed order and the requisite dispute certificate. Plaintiff also filed a motion in limine (doc. no. 31) on April 9, 2007 and a motion to amend the complaint on April 10, 2007 (doc. no. 34). Defendants were to reply to both motions by April 18, 2007. On April 16, 2007, plaintiff filed a renewed motion to request an extension on plaintiff's summary judgment (doc. no. 35) to which defendants were also to respond by April 18, 2007.

Plaintiff's motion in liminewas denied as was the motion for leave to file an amended complaint. Plaintiff's motion to request an extension on summary judgment was granted in part and denied in part. (Doc. no. 42). The Court subsequently issued a text-only order extending plaintiff's response to summary judgment deadline to May 22, 2007. Plaintiff then filed a motion for leave for extension of discovery approximately thirty minutes after the Court had granted in part and denied in part plaintiff's motion to request an extension on summary judgment. (Doc. no. 43). This Court granted plaintiff's request to extend the close of discovery to April 27, 2007, because plaintiff had stated that the depositions originally scheduled for April 20, 2007 had to be cancelled since plaintiff had not notified opposing counsel.

On April 24, 2007, plaintiff filed a motion to compel to find the defense in contempt of court for failure to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. no. 44). Defendants were ordered to respond by April 27, 2007 at noon. This Court denied plaintiff's motion in large part due to the untimeliness of her request, since discovery had closed on April 20, 2007 (with the original discovery deadline being April 2, 2007) and due to her failure to comply with Local Rule 37.1 (requiring the movant to confer in good faith with opposing counsel on discovery dispute). Although the motion was denied in part, the Court ordered defendants to produce a series of documents by May 6, 2007. These documents were to include: Item VII (a copy of the job descriptions of Cashier, those working at the Customer Service Center, "CSM" (Customer Service Manager) / "PIC" (Person in Charge), Front End Manager; Item XIII (a copy of the policy and the procedure for promoting people from Cashier to Customer Service and CSM/PIC); and Item XVI (a copy of notes, memos, and documentation written in relation to plaintiff's complaints). (Doc. no. 47).

Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment (doc. no. 48) on May 2, 2007 and an unopposed motion for extension of time to file summary judgment material, for which extension was necessitated by difficulty in coordinating joint filing obligations with the pro se plaintiff. The parties filed a Joint Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ("Joint Statement") (doc. no. 56) Regarding Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. On May 25, 2007, the Court cancelled all trial and pretrial filing deadlines pending its ruling.*fn1

III. Standard of Review

Summary judgment, under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) 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." Woodside v. School Dist. Of Philadelphia Bd. Of Educ., 248 F.3d 129, 130 (3d Cir. 2001), quoting Foehl v. United States, 238 F.3d 474, 477 (3d Cir. 2001) (citations omitted). Deciding on a summary judgment motion requires that the court to "view the evidence . . . through the prism of the substantive evidentiary burden" in order to ascertain "whether a jury could reasonably find either that the plaintiff proved his case by the quality and quantity of the ...

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