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Mavrinac v. Emergency Medicine Association of Pittsburgh

October 2, 2007

JOAN M. MAVRINAC, M.D., M.PH., PLAINTIFF,
v.
EMERGENCY MEDICINE ASSOCIATION OF PITTSBURGH (EMAP), MERCY HOSPITAL OF PITTSBURGH, PITTSBURGH MERCY HEALTH SYSTEM, AND BRUCE A. MACLEOD, M.D., FACEP, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Nora Barry Fischer

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This Memorandum Opinion and Order addresses two pending motions in limine filed by Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Mercy Health System (collectively, "Defendants"): (1) Defendants' Second Motion in Limine to Exclude Evidence Regarding Plaintiff's Untimely Claims [DE 122] and (2) Defendants' Seventh Motion in Limine to Exclude Evidence Beyond the Scope and Pertinent Time Period of Plaintiff's Claims and Memorandum of Law in Support [DE 128].

Upon consideration of the above Motions and Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law Addressing Timeliness of Claims (Docket No. 152), Defendants' Brief in response thereto (Docket No. 169), Defendants' Memorandum of Law Regarding the Untimeliness of Claims (Docket No. 154), Defendants' Letter Brief (Docket No. 206), Plaintiff's Letter Brief (Docket No. 208), Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law Addressing Ruehl v. Viacom, Inc. and Timeliness (Docket No. 212), Defendants' Memorandum of Law Regarding the Applicability of the Third Circuit's Ruehl v. Viacom, Inc. (Docket No. 213), oral argument before this Court, and for the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Second and Seventh Motions in Limine are DENIED.

This Court finds that the relief Defendants seek, specifically the dismissal of some of Plaintiff's claims due to untimeliness, could have been sought much earlier in this litigation at the summary judgment stage. Per this Court's order, summary judgment motions were due on September 22, 2006. Although the Mercy Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, their challenge of the timeliness of Plaintiff's claims was not advanced. Instead, the Mercy Defendants chose to burden the Court with twenty-two motions in limine, two of which (the instant motions) address the alleged lack of timeliness of the claims asserted by Joan Mavrinac.

A motion in limine is a pretrial motion requesting the court to address evidence that is highly prejudicial. Blacks Law Dictionary 1013 (6th ed. 1990). The purpose of such motion is to avoid injection into the trial of matters which are irrelevant, inadmissible, and prejudicial. Id. As a general rule, if the moving party is seeking a ruling that goes beyond an evidentiary determination, there is a strong likelihood that the motion in limine deals with an inappropriate matter. 21 Charles Alan Wright & Kenneth W. Graham, Jr., Federal Practice and Procedure §5037.18 (2d ed. 2005). Motions in limine are inappropriate vehicles to seek a final determination with respect to a substantive cause of action, and should not be used as a substitute for a motion for summary judgment. Id. Accordingly, Defendants should have raised the issues under consideration in a motion for summary judgment, rather than at the pretrial conference or by way of the present motions. However, in order to ensure a just and expeditious determination in this action, this Court will consider and rule on the Defendants' motions at this time.

I. Defendants' Motions in Limine

A. Second Motion in Limine

Defendants assert that Plaintiff's claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended ("Title VII"), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 ("EPA") as to her denial of salary increase and promotion in 1997, and denial of participation in EMAP'S RVU program in 2002, are untimely and should be dismissed. Defendants also argue that Plaintiff's PHRA claim for denial of a 2003 salary increase should be dismissed as time-barred. Further, Defendants object to the admission of evidence concerning any of the alleged time-barred claims.

B. Seventh Motion in Limine

Defendants also object to and seek to exclude the admission of any evidence beyond the scope and pertinent time period of Plaintiff's claims on the grounds that such evidence is not relevant and would cause unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, mislead the jury, and would waste the Court's time. Given that the relief sought is the same as that sought in Defendants' Second Motion in Limine, the Court will address these motions together.

II. Dismissal of Untimely Claims

A. Standard for the Application of the Statute of Limitations

Under both Title VII and the ADEA, a plaintiff must file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") within 180 days of the alleged discrimination or within 300 days of the alleged discrimination if the person has initially instituted proceedings with a state or local agency with authority to grant or seek relief from such practice. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e), 29 U.S.C. § 626 (d)(2). Accordingly, when required, a Plaintiff can file with the EEOC within 300 days of the alleged discrimination. Cogan v. Fischer Scientific Co., 935 F.2d 1407 (3d Cir. 1991) (a plaintiff in a deferral state, such as Pennsylvania, is entitled to an extended period of 300 days). In order to bring a suit under the PHRA, a plaintiff must file a complaint with the PHRC within 180 days after the alleged act of discrimination. 43 P.S. § 959(h). Under the EPA, claims must be filed within a 2 or 3 year limitations period after the cause of action accrued. 29 U.S.C. § 255.

In order to assess the timeliness of Mavrinac's disputed discrimination claims, the following facts are necessary. Mavrinac filed a complaint with the EEOC and cross filed her complaint with the PHRC on May 3, 2004. Mavrinac then filed the instant civil complaint on December 15, 2004. (Docket No. 1). Mavrinac filed her amended complaint on October 6, 2005. (Docket No. 21). Thus, on its face, asserted claims arising before July 6, 2003, 300 days prior to the date of the instant complaint, may be time-barred under Title VII and the ADEA, and all claims before November 5, 2003 may be time barred under the PHRA. Under the EPA, since Plaintiff filed her complaint on December 15, 2004, the applicable two year statute of limitations for timely claims would commence on December 15, 2002. If a willful violation is found, a three year limitation period applies, and any claims prior to December 15, 2001 would be time-barred.

Here, Plaintiff asserts various claims of discrimination based upon Title VII, the ADEA, the PHRA, and the EPA. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that, in addition to the termination of her full time employment status on February 28, 2004, she suffered the following discriminatory acts:

* Denial, in 1997, of Plaintiff's request for promotion to the positions of Interim Chief and Chief Physician of the Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Mercy (Docket No. 21, at ¶ 68);

* Denial, in 1997, and thereafter, of a salary increase of $5000 for obtaining board certification in emergency medicine (Docket No. 21, at ¶ 73);

* Exclusion from participation in EMAP's RVU program beginning in 2002 (Docket No 21, at ¶ 75-78); and

* Denial of Plaintiff's request for a salary increase in July 2003 (Docket No. 21, at ¶ 80).

The parties agree that Plaintiff's claim of discrimination for denial of a promotion in 1997 is time barred under all relevant statutes. The Defendants do not dispute the timeliness of Plaintiff's discrimination claim in regards to her termination on February 28, 2004.

Defendants do dispute that Plaintiff's Title VII, ADEA, PHRA, and EPA claims for her denial of salary increase in 1997 and denial of participation in EMAP'S RVU compensation system are timely; hence, Defendants argue that these claims should be dismissed. Further, Defendants argue that Plaintiff's PHRA claim for denial of a 2003 salary increase should be dismissed as time-barred.Defendants also argue that to admit any evidence or argument based on these alleged actions, even as ...


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