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Amorosi v. Molino

March 19, 2009

MICHELLE AMOROSI
v.
ANTHONY MOLINO, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kauffman, J.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Now before the Court are the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Anthony Molino ("Molino") and ARAMARK Healthcare Support Service, Inc. ("ARAMARK"), and the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the Methodist Hospital Division of Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, Inc. ("Methodist Hospital").

This case arises from the August 16, 2005 dismissal of Plaintiff Michelle Amorosi ("Plaintiff") as an employee of Methodist Hospital's food service operation, which was run by ARAMARK. On December 27, 2006, Plaintiff filed a pro se Complaint against Molino, ARAMARK, and Methodist Hospital (collectively, "Defendants").*fn1 The Complaint, construed liberally, alleges violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq.; Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq.; and the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance ("PFPO"), Philadelphia Code, ch. 9, §§ 1100 et seq.*fn2 Upon refining her claims in her Response, Plaintiff's remaining claims are four ADA and PFPO disability claims against ARAMARK and Methodist Hospital, and a PFPO disability claim against Molino in his individual capacity.*fn3

Specifically, Plaintiff claims that (1) Defendants discriminated against her based on her disability; (2) Defendants created a hostile work environment based on her disability; (3) Defendants failed to accommodate her disability; and (4) Defendants retaliated against her because of her disability.

Because Plaintiff is not disabled as defined by the ADA and PFPO, and did not seek a disability-based accommodation, she is unable to make out a prima facie case for any of her claims. Accordingly, the Molino/ARAMARK and Methodist Hospital Motions will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

In December 2000, Molino, ARAMARK's food service manager, hired Plaintiff as a per diem food service worker and hostess for Methodist Hospital. Pl. Dep. 26, 147. Molino and Pasquale Epifani ("Epifani"), an employee of Methodist Hospital, jointly supervised Plaintiff throughout her employment. Id. at 42. Originally Plaintiff perceived that she and Molino had a friendly working relationship. Id. at 160-70, 412.*fn4 This relationship began to deteriorate in 2003. Id. at 15-16, 29-30, 152-54. Due to Molino's treatment of her, Plaintiff began suffering from anxiety and depression, and was diagnosed accordingly in September 2003. Id. at 24-26, 187-90, 524. Plaintiff's doctor prescribed Xanax and Paxil to help treat her anxiety and depression. Id. at 11. However, according to Plaintiff, she was "at all times relevant, a qualified person able to perform the essential functions of her job with or without an accommodation." Pl. Resp. 22.

Plaintiff subsequently complained to Andreé Aubert ("Aubert"), the ARAMARK manager who oversaw the food services department at Methodist Hospital and was Molino's supervisor, about the way Molino was treating her at work. Aubert Dep. 28-29. In the summer of 2005, Plaintiff attempted to transfer out of the cafeteria. Pl. Dep. 128-29. Molino denied her request. Id. She also called Methodist Hospital administration to request a meeting to discuss how Molino was treating her and to request a transfer, but no action was taken. Id. at 50-51.

On August 12, 2005, Plaintiff used the phone in Molino's office to refill her prescriptions for Paxil and Xanax. Id. at 295, 525. After overhearing Plaintiff's conversation, Molino stated, "what are you doing on Xanax, there's nothing wrong with you"; "you don't need that"; and "I take that for headaches." Id. at 242-44, 304, 524. He then told her that "it makes you walk around like a zombie." Id. That night Molino called Plaintiff's father to talk about Plaintiff, and again mentioned that she was "nothing but a walking zombie." Id. at 229, 231.

On August 16, Molino and Aubert met with Plaintiff in Molino's office to provide her with written warnings concerning two work-related incidents. The meeting was not intended to be an employment termination meeting. Aubert Dep. 115-16. During the meeting, Aubert showed Plaintiff the written warnings, explained their contents, and asked her to sign them. Pl. Dep. 56-57. However, Plaintiff did not read them and refused to sign them, claiming that she did nothing wrong. Id. at 99-101, 354. Despite assurances that signing the warning would not affect her employment, Plaintiff left the office and the hospital without completing her shift. Id. at 111, 357-58. Aubert and Joseph Micucci ("Micucci"), Methodist Hospital's Director of Human Resources, then signed the appropriate forms that officially terminated Plaintiff's employment on the grounds of "job abandonment." See Employee Action Form ("Termination Form") attached to Molino/ARAMARK Mot. at Ex. I.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

In deciding a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the test is "whether there is a genuine issue of material fact and, if not, whether the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Med. Protective Co. v. Watkins, 198 F.3d 100, 103 (3d Cir. 1999) (citations omitted). "[S]ummary judgment will not lie if the dispute about a material fact is 'genuine,' that is, if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The Court must examine the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and resolve all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of showing the basis for its motion. See Shields v. Zuccarini, 254 F.3d 476, 481 (3d Cir. 2001). If the movant meets that burden, the onus then "shifts to the non-moving party to set forth specific facts showing the existence of [a genuine issue of material fact] for trial." Id. The mere existence of some alleged factual dispute will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48. Rather, a dispute must exist over a material fact. Id. Furthermore, "there can be 'no genuine issue as to any material fact' . . . [where the non-moving party's] complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of [its] case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

Under the "sham affidavit" doctrine, courts may disregard an affidavit submitted in opposition to a motion for summary judgment "when the affidavit contradicts the affiant's prior deposition testimony." In re CitX Corp., 448 F.3d 672, 679 (3d Cir. 2006) (citations omitted). The Third Circuit reasoned that "[i]f a party who has been examined at length on deposition could raise an issue of fact simply by submitting an affidavit contradicting his own prior testimony, this would greatly diminish the utility of summary judgment as a procedure for screening out sham issues of fact." Martin v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 851 F.2d 703, 705 (3d Cir. 1988).

An exception to the doctrine exists where a witness was confused at the earlier deposition or misspoke; in such a case, the Court must consider whether an explanation for the discrepancy was offered in the affidavit. See id. at 705-06. However, when "the affiant was carefully questioned on the issue, had access to the relevant information at that time, and provided no satisfactory explanation for the later contradiction, the courts of ...


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