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Kathleen Franceschelli v. Verizon Pennsylvania

April 4, 2011


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


Pending before the court is the defendant's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. No. 45). Based upon the court's review of the motion and related materials, the defendant's motion will be granted.

By way of relevant procedural background, on July 10, 2009, the plaintiff initiated the instant action in the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, in which she alleged claims pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§621, et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, ("PHRA"), 42 P.S. §§951, et seq. The matter was removed to this court on August 13, 2009. (Doc. No. 1).

On September 13, 2009, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint, in which she omitted the ADEA claim and substituted an Americans with Disabilities Act, ("ADA"), claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§12101, et seq. (Doc. No. 13). The PHRA claim remained. An answer to the amended complaint was filed on October 14, 2009. (Doc. No. 15).

In the meantime, on October 13, 2009, the parties signed a consent to proceed before the undersigned, and on October 15, 2009, the instant action was referred to the undersigned to conduct all proceedings and order the entry of a final judgment in accordance with 28 U.S.C. §636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73. (Doc. No. 17).

At the close of discovery, on December 15, 2010, the defendant filed the instant motion for summary judgment, (Doc. No. 45), along with a supporting brief, (Doc. No. 46), a statement of facts, (Doc. No. 47), and exhibits, (Doc. No. 48). The plaintiff filed a response to the defendant's statement of facts on January 20, 2011, (Doc. No. 52), along with an opposing brief, (Doc. No. 53). An amended opposing brief was filed on February 21, 2011. (Doc. No. 55). A reply brief, (Doc. No. 58), and supplemental appendix, (Doc. No. 59), were filed by the defendant on March 10, 2011.

Summary judgment is appropriate 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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).

The Supreme Court has stated that:

". . . [T]he plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who 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 of proof at trial. In such a situation, there can be 'no genuine issue as to any material fact,' since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial. The moving party is 'entitled to judgment as a matter of law' because the nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of her case with respect to which she has the burden of proof."

Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).

The moving party bears the initial responsibility of stating the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Id. The moving party can discharge that burden by "showing . . . that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Id. at 325.

Issues of fact are genuine "only if a reasonably jury, considering the evidence presented, could find for the nonmoving party." Childers v. Joseph, 842 F.2d 689, 693-94 (3d Cir. 1988) (citations omitted). Material facts are those which will effect the outcome of the trial under governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The court may not weigh the evidence nor make credibility determinations. Boyle v. County of Allegheny, 139 F.3d 386, 393 (3d Cir. 1998). In determining whether an issue of material fact exists, the court must consider all evidence and inferences drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Id. at 393.

If the moving party meets his initial burden, the opposing party must do more than raise some metaphysical doubt as to material facts, but must show sufficient evidence to support a jury verdict in its favor. Id.

In her complaint, the plaintiff alleges that, from April 5, 1993, until September 20, 2003, she was employed by the defendant as a Residential Collections Consultant in their Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, office. During this time, her job performance consistently met or exceeded the defendant's performance standards and she performed her job satisfactorily and never gave defendant cause to terminate her employment.

When the Wilkes-Barre office closed in October of 2003, the plaintiff was transferred to the Scranton, Pennsylvania, office in the position of a Residential Sales Consultant, where she remained until she was terminated on October 25, 2007.

Between March 2007 and July 2007, the plaintiff alleges that she was granted Family Medical Leave Act, ("FMLA")/Short Term Disability leave on three occasions while her physicians analyzed a lump located in her neck and provided treatment. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant was aware of the reasons for the absences.

While on leave, the plaintiff alleges that the location of her work station was moved away from her group and anyone who did the same job function as she did. On or about, August 31, 2007, the plaintiff's work station was moved back to its original location.

Upon the plaintiff's return from leave, she alleges that she requested to be trained on any policies and procedures that had been updated or changed while she was off, but that she was not trained or given the opportunity to observe any other employees at their work station.

During the week of September 24, 2007, the plaintiff's supervisor observed her on several calls, for which she received coaching and verbal direction as to how to service the customer better.

On September 25, 2007, the plaintiff alleges that she was diagnosed with lupus, which has substantially limited her major life activities.

The plaintiff was terminated from her employment on October 25, 2007. At all times prior to this, the plaintiff alleges that she was capable and qualified to perform her job. In addition, in her 14 1/2 years of employment with the defendant, the plaintiff ...

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