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Lisa Camnetar v. Monroe County Corrections Facility

September 27, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Richard P. Conaboy


We consider here a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 17) filed by Defendant Monroe County Correctional Facility ("Monroe County") on June 1, 2012. That motion has been fully briefed by the parties (Docs. 19, 22, and 23) and is ripe for disposition.

I. Background

Plaintiff Lisa Camnetar, ("Plaintiff") is a corrections officers in the employ of Monroe County. (Doc 18, ¶ 56; Doc. 22-17 ¶ 56). Plaintiff was hired by Monroe County on March 26, 2007. (Doc. 1, ¶ 3). On the date Plaintiff was hired by Monroe County she was married to Anthony Camnetar. (Doc. 18, ¶ 5; Doc. 22-17, ¶ 5). Four days after gaining employment with Monroe County Plaintiff filed for divorce. (Doc. 18, ¶ 6; Doc. 22-17, ¶ 6). Plaintiff's divorce became final in August of 2007 (Doc. 22-17, ¶ 7). Incident to filing for divorce from Anthony Camnetar, Plaintiff represented that she had lived separate and apart from him since April 1, 2006. (Doc. 18, ¶ 12; Doc. 22-17, ¶ 12). However, Anthony Camnetar continued to reside with Plaintiff until December of 2009, some sixteen months after their divorce became final. (Doc. 11, ¶ 6).

Anthony Camnetar was no longer eligible for health insurance through Plaintiff's plan with Monroe County after Plaintiff's divorce became final in August of 2007, but Plaintiff did not remove him from her policy at that time because she was unaware that he was no longer eligible for such insurance coverage. (Doc. 11, ¶ 7). Plaintiff became aware that her former husband was no longer entitled to health care coverage in December of 2009 whereupon she contacted Monroe County regarding his removal from his plan. (Doc 11, ¶¶ 7-8). Between the date the Camnetar's divorce became final and the date Plaintiff notified Monroe County that she was no longer married, Anthony Camnetar generated claims under Plaintiff's health insurance plan with Monroe County which exceeded $21,000.00. (Doc 18, ¶ 27; Doc. 22-17 ¶ 27).

Each July Monroe County sends out letters to its employees explaining, among other things, that employees must remove dependants who are no longer eligible for coverage from their plan. (Doc. 18 ¶ 14; Doc. 22-17, ¶ 14). Each July during the time period relevant to this lawsuit Monroe County posted notices at the Monroe County Correctional Facility that advised employees that health insurance representatives were available to meet with them to enroll, add, remove or make changes to their benefit plans. (Doc. 18 ¶ 15; Doc. 22-17, ¶ 15). Monroe County human resources employee, Isabelle Rivera, sends emails in July or August every year to all Monroe County employees advising them about open enrollment. (Doc. 18, ¶ 17; Doc. 22-17, ¶ 17). From the beginning of her employment until her termination, Plaintiff had a Monroe County email address (Doc. 18, ¶ 18; Doc. 22-17, ¶ 18).

Despite the aforementioned efforts of Monroe County to inform its employees of the need to periodically adjust their insurance coverage, Plaintiff claims that she did not remove her former husband from her health insurance coverage because she did not know about Monroe County's policy requiring the removal of a former spouse after divorce. (Doc. 18, ¶22; Doc. 22-17, ¶ 22). Plaintiff claims she became aware of this policy for the first time in December of 2009 and then promptly executed a "Change of Dependent Coverage Form" and furnished it and a copy of her divorce decree to Monroe County human resources employee Isabelle Rivera. (Doc. 18, ¶¶ 23-26; Doc. 22-17, ¶¶ 23-26). In February of 2010, Ms. Rivera reported to Bonnie Ace-Sattur, the Monroe County Director of Human Resources, that (a) Plaintiff's ex-husband had continued to be covered for health insurance purposes by Monroe County for some sixteen months after the divorce; and (b) in that time period the ex-husband had generated more than $21,000.00 in claims under the Plaintiff's health insurance plan. (Doc. 18, ¶ 27; Doc. 22-17, ¶ 27). Upon receiving this information, Ms. AceSattur furnished it to the Monroe County Commissioners (Doc. 18, ¶ 29; Doc. 22-17, ¶ 29). On March 15, 2012, the Monroe County Commissioners voted unanimously to terminate Plaintiff's employment). (Doc 18, ¶3 1; Doc. 22-17, ¶ 31).

Monroe County contends that Plaintiff was terminated due to her failure to remove her ex-husband from her health care policy. (Doc. 18, ¶ 32). Plaintiff believes she was terminated because of her gender and cites examples of two male co-workers who she believes were treated more favorable than she in similar circumstances. (Doc. 22, ¶ 32). On March 16, 2012, Donna Asure, Warden at the Monroe County Correctional Facility, called Plaintiff into a meeting and informed her that she was terminated effective immediately for insurance fraud. (Doc. 18, ¶¶ 34-37; Doc. 22-17, ¶¶ 34-37). The parties agree that the decision to fire Plaintiff was made by the Monroe County Commissioners. (Doc. 18, ¶ 38; Doc. 22-17, ¶ 38). After Donna Asure informed Plaintiff that she was terminated, she instructed Plaintiff to go to the Human Resources Department and speak to Bonnie Ace-Sattur, Director of Human Resources. (Doc. 18, ¶ 39; Doc. 22-17, ¶ 39). Officer Joseph Dougher, Plaintiff's union advocate, was asked to accompany Plaintiff to the meeting with Director Ace-Sattur and was excused from his shift to do so. (Doc. 18, ¶ 40; Doc. 22-17, ¶ 40). Plaintiff, Officer Dougher, and Director Ace-Sattur met for between thirty and forty-five minutes and during that meeting Director Ace-Sattur explained that the Commissioners had reviewed the matter and recommended that she (Plaintiff) be fired for insurance fraud. (Doc. 18, ¶¶ 42-45; Doc. 22-17, ¶¶ 42-45). Officer Dougher testified that the Plaintiff was given a full explanation as to why she was terminated. (Doc. 18, ¶ 46; Doc. 22-17, ¶ 46).

After Plaintiff was terminated, her bargaining agent, Teamsters Local Union No. 773, filed a grievance on her behalf pursuant to the operative Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA"). (Doc. 18, ¶¶ 47-48; Doc. 22-17, ¶¶ 47-48). The arbitrator appointed pursuant to the CBA found that Defendant had failed to prove that "Ms. Camnetar willfully and purposefully deceived the County by her failure to inform MCCF (the employer) of the change in her marital status." Opinion and Award of Arbitrator Anthony F. Visco, Jr. (Doc. 22-2 at 7). Arbitrator Visco further concluded that Plaintiff was negligent, that she had violated Monroe County policy, and that her negligence had cost Monroe County significant sums of money. (Doc. 18, ¶ 54; Doc. 22, ¶ 54). The arbitrator directed that Plaintiff be reinstated without back pay, that her time out of work should be treated as an unpaid disciplinary suspension, and that she should make arrangements to reimburse her employer for medical expenditures made on behalf of her ex-spouse. (Doc. 18, ¶ 52; Doc. 22-17, ¶ 53). The Defendant reinstated Plaintiff as per the terms of the arbitrator's Opinion and Award. (Doc. 18, ¶ 56; Doc. 22-17, ¶ 56).

Plaintiff has filed a three-count Amended Complaint (Doc. 11) alleging that her discharge was motivated by gender discrimination as prohibited by Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e), and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. §§ 951 et seq. (Counts I and III). She also alleges that the manner in which she was terminated violated her procedural due process rights as established by 42 U.S.C. 1983 (Count II). For the reasons that follow, we shall deny Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment on both Plaintiff's Section 1983 claim and her claims regarding gender discrimination under Title VII and the PHRA.

II. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate when the movant demonstrates there is no "genuine issue as to any material fact." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). "[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).

"An issue is genuine only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis on which a reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party, and a factual dispute is material only if it might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law." Kaucher v. County of Bucks, 455 F.3d 418, 423 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). In determining whether a genuine issue of fact exists, a court must resolve all factual doubts and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Conoshenti v. Public Serv. Elec. & Gas Co., 364 F.3d 135, 140 (3d Cir. 2004).

The initial burden is on the moving party to show an absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986) (citations omitted). The moving party may meet this burden by "pointing out to the district court [] that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case when the nonmoving party bears the ultimate burden of proof." Id. at 325. The non-moving party may not rest on the bare allegations contained in his or her pleadings, but is required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 to go beyond the pleadings by way of ...

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