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King v. Wyoming Valley Healthcare System

September 30, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge James M. Munley United States District Court

Judge Munley


Before the court for disposition is the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Wyoming Valley Health Care System, Inc. and WilkesBarre General Hospital, a/k/a WVHCS-Hospital d/b/a Wilkes-Barre General Hospital (hereinafter collectively "defendants"). The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.


Defendant Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, a/k/a WVHCS-Hospital d/b/a Wilkes-Barre General Hospital is a healthcare provider that operates a hospital facility at 575 N. River Street, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. (Doc. 43-2, Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Material Facts, ("SoF"), at ¶ 1).*fn1 Defendant Wyoming Valley Health Care System, Inc., is a Pennsylvania corporation and the corporate parent of the General Hospital. (Id. at ¶ 2). Plaintiff applied for a security guard position with Defendant Wyoming Valley Health Care System. (Doc. 55, Plaintiff's Counter-statement of undisputed facts, ("CoF")).*fn2

The Wyoming Valley Health Care System security guard job description requires that a guard be "physically able and proficient in self-defense." (Def. SoF at ¶ 18, Pl. CoF at ¶ 18). It also requires "lifting occasionally in very physical demand level (125 lbs.) generally in optimal position." (Id. ¶ 19). Defendants contend that they impose a 125-pound lifting test for all applicants for security guard positions.*fn3 (Def. SoF at ¶ 20).

Defendants interviewed plaintiff for the position first on December 15, 2006 and for a second time on December 22, 2006. (Id. ¶ ¶ 39, 42). Defendants then had plaintiff come in for a post-offer, pre-employment physical on January 2, 2007. (Id. ¶ 47). Part of the physical was a test to determine if plaintiff could lift 125 pounds, and she could not. (Id. ¶ 59). Plaintiff was not offered the position for which she applied. (Id. ¶ 66). Subsequent to the failure to hire her, plaintiff instituted the instant lawsuit alleging employment discrimination.

Plaintiff's seven-count complaint asserts the following causes of action: sex-based discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"); retaliation under Title VII; disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"); retaliation under the ADA; violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"); retaliation under the PHRA; and tortious infliction of emotional distress. (Doc. 8, Am. Compl.).

At the close of discovery, the defendants move for summary judgment, bringing the case to its present posture. Jurisdiction

As plaintiff brings suit pursuant to Title VII and the ADA, for unlawful employment discrimination, we have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."). We have supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiff's state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

Standard of Review

Granting summary judgment is proper 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 judgment as a matter of law. See Knabe v. Boury, 114 F.3d 407, 410 n.4 (3d Cir. 1997) (citing FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c)). "[T]his standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original).

In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must examine the facts in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. International Raw Materials, Ltd. v. Stauffer Chemical Co., 898 F.2d 946, 949 (3d Cir. 1990). The burden is on the moving party to demonstrate that the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248 (1986). A fact is material when it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Id. Where the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the party moving for summary judgment may meet its burden by showing that the evidentiary materials of record, if reduced to admissible evidence, would be insufficient to carry the non-movant's burden of proof at trial. Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once the moving party satisfies its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party, who must go beyond its pleadings, and designate specific facts by the use of affidavits, depositions, admissions, or answers to interrogatories showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324. Discussion

Defendants move for summary judgment on all of the plaintiff's causes of action. We will address each in turn.

I. Disability Discrimination

First the defendants argue that they are entitled to summary judgment on plaintiff's claims for disability discrimination under the ADA and PHRA in Counts III and V because no question of material fact exists as to whether ...

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