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Lemoine v. International Bedding

July 8, 2010

RONALD W. LEMOINE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
INTERNATIONAL BEDDING D/B/A IBC GROUP, INC. DEFENDANT.



Hon. John E. Jones III

MEMORANDUM

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:

Currently pending before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment (the "Motion") filed by Defendant International Bedding d/b/a IBC Group, Inc. ("Defendant" or "IBC"). (Doc. 25). For the reasons that follow, we will grant the Motion.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff Ronald W. Lemoine ("Plaintiff" or "Lemoine") initiated that above-captioned action by filing a complaint in the Schuylkill County Court of Common Pleas on September 22, 2008. (Doc. 1-2). Therein, Plaintiff asserted against Defendant violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (the "PHRA"), 43 Pa. C.S. § 951 et seq. Defendant removed the matter to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441 on October 29, 2009. (See Doc. 1). On February 2, 2010, IBC proceeded to file the instant Motion and a brief in support thereof. (Doc. 25). On February 19, 2010, Plaintiff filed documents in opposition to the Motion. (Docs. 26, 27). Defendant's reply brief was lodged on March 4, 2010. (Doc. 34). Accordingly, the Motion has been fully briefed and is therefore ripe for disposition.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is appropriate if the record establishes "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Initially, the moving party bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The movant meets this burden by pointing to an absence of evidence supporting an essential element as to which the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 325. Once the moving party meets its burden, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to show that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2). An issue is "genuine" only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find for the non-moving party, and a factual dispute is "material" only if it might affect the outcome of the action under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc, 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986).

In opposing summary judgment, the non-moving party "may not rely merely on allegations of denials in its own pleadings; rather, its response must ... set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2). The non-moving party "cannot rely on unsupported allegations, but must go beyond pleadings and provide some evidence that would show that there exists a genuine issue for trial." Jones v. United Parcel Serv., 214 F.3d 402, 407 (3d Cir. 2000). Arguments made in briefs "are not evidence and cannot by themselves create a factual dispute sufficient to defeat a summary judgment motion." Jersey Cent. Power & Light Co. v. Twp. of Lacey, 772 F.2d 1103, 1109-10 (3d Cir. 1985). However, the facts and all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non- moving party. P.N. v. Clementon Bd. of Educ., 442 F.3d 848, 852 (3d Cir. 2006).

Summary judgment should not be granted when there is a disagreement about the facts or the proper inferences that a fact finder could draw from them. Peterson v. Lehigh Valley Dist. Council, 676 F.2d 81, 84 (3d Cir. 1982). Still, "the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; there must be a genuine issue of material fact to preclude summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48.

STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS*fn1

Plaintiff was hired by IBC in July of 1997 as an Operations Manager. (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 5). He was promoted to the position of Regional Vice President of Operations in 2006, overseeing the daily operations of IBC's plants in Barnesville and Frackville, Pennsylvania. (Id. ¶¶ 6, 7). During 2003, Plaintiff allegedly began experiencing pain and discomfort in both of his knees, which led to two hospitalizations. (Id.¶ 11). According to Plaintiff, he was eventually diagnosed with degenerative conditions in both knees, along with osteoarthritis in his left knee. (Id.¶ 12). Plaintiff avers that in 2005 he began using a walker and eventually used a cane to assist him in walking. (Id.¶ 13). Defendant purchased a golf cart for Plaintiff to allow him to more easily travel through the Barnesville plant. (Id.).

Lemoine underwent two separate operations in the Fall of 2006 in an attempt to alleviate the pain in his knees. (Id.¶ 14). Plaintiff alleges that his disability never affected his work performance and that he never received a formal complaint about his productivity. (Id.¶¶ 15, 16). Plaintiff further avers that on November 28, 2006, he was informed by IBS' Corporate Vice President of Operations, Lance Ellman ("Ellman"), and Chief Financial Officer, Kevin Sirup, Esq. ("Sirup"), via telephone that he was being terminated from his employment. (Id.¶ 17). During that conversation, Plaintiff was allegedly informed that IBC knew he was "having problems with his legs" and that "it wasn't working out anymore." (Id.). At the time of his termination, Plaintiff was purportedly promised a severance package worth four month's salary and a $20,000 bonus, neither of which he ever received. (Id.¶ 18). As a result of these allegations, Plaintiff contends that he was the subject of disability discrimination and harassment. He requests, inter alia, awards of back pay, front pay, overtime, lost fringe benefits, as well as compensatory and punitive damages in connection with the alleged violations of his federal and state rights. (Id. Counts I-II).

DISCUSSION

At the outset, we note that Middle District of Pennsylvania Local ...


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