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Elberson v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

October 29, 2009





Before the court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. (Docs. 50, 52.) The parties have briefed the issues, and the motions are ripe for disposition.


The background of this case is unnecessarily long, although not all that complex, and has been thoroughly laid out in previous memoranda issued by this court. (Docs. 26, 37.) Plaintiff's amended complaint, filed November 20, 2006, alleges thirty-two instances where Defendants*fn1 failed to hire Plaintiff for discriminatory reasons. (Doc. 4.) On March 31, 2008, the court issued a memorandum and order dismissing, with prejudice, all counts except for those relating to counts thirty-one and thirty-two in the complaint. (Doc. 26.) On May 5, 2008, the court denied Plaintiff's motions for reconsideration and reiterated that only counts thirty-one and thirty-two remain in the case. (Doc. 37.) With regard to these two counts, Plaintiff alleges violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (1994) ("Title VII"), as well as allegations under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, 1985 and 1986, all due to her not being hired for two positions with the Department of Corrections.

On February 17, 2009, both parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, and subsequently briefs in support were filed. (Doc. 50, 52.) On March 6, 2009, Defendants filed a brief in opposition to Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 60.) No other responses have been filed by either party.

III. Facts

Plaintiff claims that Defendants failed to hire her to two positions at the State Correctional Institutions ("SCI") located in Huntington and Smithfield. Plaintiff claims that the positions were open in 2003 and 2004. It should be noted that it is less than clear whether Plaintiff actually applied for jobs in 2003 and 2004. However, this fact is immaterial as this court finds that even if she applied Plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies. Plaintiff's complaint is mum with regard to any dates in connection with claims thirty-one and thirty-two. The court accepts Defendants' statement of the 2003/2004 dates as true as they are not disputed by Plaintiff and Plaintiff's own documentation fails to state any time-line. (Doc. 55, ¶¶ 58-60; see Doc. 58.) Plaintiff claims that, despite her qualifications, she was not hired by the Department of Corrections because of her race.*fn2 (Doc. 56, at 3.) Defendants assert that Plaintiff failed to file an EEOC charge with regard to the job openings in 2003 and 2004. Defendant cites to the fact that no EEOC filings have been submitted since a November 20, 2003 EEOC complaint that covered allegations of discrimination regarding positions which were filled in October 2002. (Defs.' Statement of Material Facts, Doc. 55, ¶¶ 56- 57.) Plaintiff's only reply to this fact is her mistaken belief that she did not have to file her later claims with the EEOC. (Pl.'s Resp. to Defs' State of Material Facts, Doc. 58, ¶ 57.) Plaintiff does not refute that she did not file an EEOC complaint with regards to claims thirty-one and thirty-two.

IV. Legal Standard

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 that would allow a reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id. at 248. The court must resolve all doubts as to the existence of a genuine issue of material fact in favor of the non-moving party. Saldana, 260 F.3d at 232; 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, it must "go beyond the pleadings and by [its] own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, 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)).

The court is permitted to resolve cross-motions for summary judgment concurrently. InterBusiness Bank, N.A. v. First Nat'l Bank of Mifflintown, 318 F.Supp.2d 230, 235 (M.D.Pa. 2004) (describing concurrent resolution of cross-motions for summary judgment as "a formidable task"); 10A Charles Alan Wright et al., Federal Practice and Procedure § 2720 (3d ed. 1998). When doing so, the court is bound to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party with respect to each motion. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; Raymond Proffitt Found. v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency, 930 F. Supp. 1088, 1096 (E.D. Pa. 1996).

V. Discussion

Plaintiff's concise, but substantively void, brief raises three arguments for why summary judgment should be granted in her favor. First, Plaintiff claims that as a matter of law, she should prevail on her Title VII claims because she was discriminated against on the basis of her race, and Defendants have supplied no legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for failing to hire her. Second, Plaintiff claims that Defendants intentionally discriminated against her in violation of 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 1981 and 1983. And third, Plaintiff claims she is entitled to judgment ...

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