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Alice Mascarini v. Quality Employment Services : & Training (A.K.A. Quest

February 14, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Judge Conner)


This is a civil action filed by plaintiff Alice Mascarini alleging numerous violations of federal and state law following the termination of her employment with defendant Quality Employment Services and Training (a.k.a. Quest, Inc.).*fn1

Presently before the court is a motion (Doc. 66) in limine filed by defendants Quest, Inc., Penelope Samuelson, Joseph Kristobak,*fn2 Verna Morris, Hollie Manwiller, and Joseph Hylton. For the reasons that follow, the court will grant the motion.

I. Background

This case arises out of numerous incidents that occurred between 2007 and 2009 during plaintiff Alice Mascarini's ("Mascarini") employment at Quest. Defendants are Quest, Inc. ("Quest"), a vocational rehabilitation facility that provides employment training at sheltered workshops (Doc. 46 ¶ 4; Doc. 47 ¶ 4); Penelope Samuelson, President or Vice President of the Board; Joseph Kristobak, President of the Board; Verna Morris, Executive Director of Quest; Hollie Manwiller ("Manwiller"), Interim Executive Director or Chief Financial Officer of Quest; Joseph Hylton ("Hylton"), Director of Vocational Services for Quest (collectively referred to as "the Quest defendants"); and Michael Weidman, Maintenance Supervisor for Quest. (Doc. 46 ¶ 5; Doc. 47 ¶ 5).

Plaintiff originally instituted this action in the Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County. Weidman and the Quest defendants removed the matter to this court on July 26, 2010. (See Doc. 1). Plaintiff Mascarini filed an amended complaint (Doc. 8) on August 27, 2010, alleging nine causes of action: (1) violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981;*fn3 (2) violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e; (3) violation of the Age Discrimination and Employment Act;*fn4 (4) violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"); (5) defamation;*fn5 (6) assault; (7) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (8) failure to supervise; and (9) wrongful discharge. (Doc. 8).

During discovery, Mascarini inquired into the subsequent employment history of Hollie Manwiller as well as the health history of Joseph Hylton. (Doc. 67, at 1-2). The Quest defendants believe that Mascarini may attempt to introduce evidence that Manwiller was suspended on January 28, 2011 for failing to properly administer employee funds in a 403(b) plan. (See Doc. 67, at 2; Doc. 71-2, Ex. A). The Quest defendants also proffer that Mascarini may attempt to introduce evidence that Hylton sought treatment for depression and substance abuse after he left his position at Quest. (Doc. 67, at 2, 4). The Quest defendants assert that such evidence is inadmissible because it is irrelevant and prejudicial. (Doc. 66). The motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.

II. Legal Standard

Evidence is relevant if "it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence" and "the fact is of consequence in determining the action." FED. R. EVID. 401. Irrelevant evidence is inadmissible. FED. R. EVID. 402. The court may exclude relevant evidence "if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence." FED. R. EVID. 403. The exclusion of potentially relevant evidence pursuant to Rule 403 is an "extreme measure" at the pre-trial stage and should rarely be excluded. Hines v. Consol. Rail Corp., 926 F.2d 262, 274 (3d Cir. 1991).

III. Discussion

Manwiller's suspension and Hylton's treatment for depression and substance abuse are not relevant to Mascarini's claims. To the extent that the evidence is relevant, it is overly prejudicial.

A. Hollie Manwiller's Subsequent Employment History

The Quest defendants posit that Manwiller's suspension on January 28, 2011 is not relevant to Mascarini's lawsuit. Mascarini is suing Manwiller individually for discrimination under Title VII and the PHRA, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent supervision. Mascarini asserts that Manwiller "was informed, observed and aware of Defendant Weidman's rage, assault and abusive conduct including towards Plaintiff but she failed to act to correct, investigate, report to authorities or stop the abuse and harassment." (Doc. 71-1, at 4). The Quest defendants contend that Manwiller's January, 2011, suspension occurred long after Alice Mascarini left Quest in June, 2009, and that there is no evidence that Manwiller's failure to properly administer employee funds contributed to Mascarini leaving Quest. (Doc. 67, at 2).

In response, Mascarini avers that this evidence is relevant because she was the one to notify Quest of Manwiller's mismanagement in November 2010 and because her retirement funds ...

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