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Victoria Graudins v. Retro Fitness

February 5, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gene E.K. Pratter,j.


Victoria Graudins has filed a wide-ranging complaint against Retro Fitness, LLC, Daniel Kraft, Jim Kanagie, Dan Carr, and Paul Carr that includes hostile work environment and retaliation claims under Title VII as well as a variety of state law claims. In response, the Defendants (with the exception of Paul Carr) filed a motion for partial summary judgment and a motion to sever. For the following reasons, the Court denies the motion to sever and grants in part and denies in part the motion for partial summary judgment.

I. Background

A. Procedural History

On October 17, 2011, Ms. Graudins filed a multi-count complaint. Ms. Graudins brings a wide array of claims, which are summarized in the following chart:

Cause of Action Relevant Defendants Hostile work environment (Title VII) All defendants Hostile work environment (Pennsylvania law) All defendants Retaliation (Title VII) All defendants Retaliation (Pennsylvania law) All defendants Intentional Infliction of All defendants Emotional Distress Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress All defendants Negligent Supervision Retro Fitness, Daniel Kraft, and Dan Carr Assault and Battery Paul Carr

All defendants have been served and have answered the complaint, with the exception of Paul Carr, who has not filed an answer. Ms. Graudins has not moved for default judgment against Paul Carr, who was convicted of sexually assaulting her while he worked with her at Retro Fitness.

On September 5, 2012, the Defendants, other than Paul Carr, filed a motion for partial summary judgment. They also filed a motion to sever all claims against Paul Carr in order to separate the trials of Paul Carr and the other Defendants. Ms. Graudins opposes both motions.

B. Factual Background

Retro Fitness is a health club that employed Ms. Graudins for seven months from March 2010 to October 2010. During her employment, Daniel Kraft was the owner and manager of Retro Fitness, Dan Carr supervised her, and Jim Kanagie was a salesman at Retro Fitness. Ms. Graudins argues that all three of these men are liable to her individually.

Ms. Graudins has testified that Mr. Kanagie would put his hands around her at work, flip her upside down, and describe different sexual activity positions to her. Furthermore, Ms. Graudins stated in interrogatory responses that Mr. Kanagie sexually propositioned her, engaged her in sexually explicit conversations, and showed her pornographic images throughout her time at Retro Fitness. Ms. Graudins has testified that when Mr. Kanagie harassed her she would giggle and pull away from him as a "defense mechanism."

As for Dan Carr, Ms. Graudins has testified that he witnessed some of the instances of Mr. Kanagie touching her, that he joked with Mr. Kanagie about how attractive Ms. Graudins was, and that he would laugh at Mr. Kanagie's comments towards her, although he also told Mr. Kanagie not to make such comments. The parties agree that Dan Carr never touched Ms. Graudins.

There is no evidence that Mr. Kraft touched Ms. Graudins, made offensive comments to her, or witnessed her being sexually harassed. Furthermore, Ms. Graudins did not make any verbal or written complaints to Mr. Kraft regarding the alleged harassment by Dan Carr and Mr. Kanagie, although she has testified that she was afraid she would lose her job if she reported their conduct.

On June 18, 2010, Paul Carr (Dan Carr's brother and another Retro Fitness employee) allegedly sexually assaulted Ms. Graudins at work.*fn1 Eventually, Paul Carr was charged for the assault and convicted in Philadelphia County on multiple criminal counts, including indecent assault and indecent exposure. Ms. Graudins has testified that Paul Carr continued to be employed at Retro Fitness after the assault, that she was forced to work with him after the assault, and that he was the person who gave her the paycheck she received upon her termination. Ms. Graudins also has testified that she was terminated in October 2010 for taking a day off from work, even though Dan Carr gave her permission to do so. Ms. Graudins believes the company was looking for a reason to fire her after she reported the sexual assault.

On March 29, 2011, Ms. Graudins filed an EEOC charge, and she cross-filed the charge with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC). The charge did not expressly refer to Dan Kraft, Jim Kanagie, or Dan Carr.

II. Legal Standard for a Motion for Summary Judgment

A court shall grant a motion for summary judgment "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). An issue is "genuine" if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis on which a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Kaucher v. Cnty. of Bucks, 455 F.3d 418, 423 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A factual dispute is "material" if it might affect the outcome of the case under governing law. Id. (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). Under Rule 56, the Court must view the evidence presented in the motion in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. However, ...

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