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Youry v. Executive Transporatation Co.

United States District Court, Third Circuit

September 4, 2013

PIERRE YOURY, Plaintiff,
v.
EXECUTIVE TRANSPORTATION CO., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

GENE E.K. PRATTER JUDGE

Pierre Youry sued Executive Transportation Company, a limousine services provider, for race discrimination. Mr. Youry’s suit also asserts claims against Edward Burkhardt, a supervisor at Executive, and Joseph A. McQuillan III, a manager at Executive.[1] These Defendants jointly have filed a motion for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted.

Procedural History

Mr. Youry filed his initial complaint in this matter on June 23, 2011. Over four months later, the Court ordered Mr. Youry to provide a status report to the Court as to why he had not then yet served a summons and complaint upon the Defendants. On November 1, 2011, one day before his status report was due, Mr. Youry filed an amended complaint, which remains the operative pleading in this matter. In this complaint, Mr. Youry alleges that he is a black male who was born in Haiti, that he began working[2] as a limousine driver for Executive in March 2006, and that Executive terminated his relationship with Executive on May 4, 2010. The amended complaint asserts claims against all the Defendants for race discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, as well as for race and national origin discrimination in violation of Pennsylvania law.

On December 21, 2011, the Defendants filed an answer to the amended complaint. Discovery ensued, and the Defendants moved for summary judgment on December 7, 2012. On December 28, 2012, Mr. Youry filed an opposition to the Defendants’ motion. The Court subsequently ordered the Defendants to attach the transcripts cited in their briefing as exhibits to their motion, and to include a statement of facts that complied with the Court’s policies and procedures concerning summary judgment motions. The Defendants complied with this order by filing a supplemental motion for summary judgment, leaving the Court free to resolve their motion.

Factual Background

Pursuant to Section II.G of its published policies and procedures, the Court requires movants for summary judgment to include a paragraph-by-paragraph recitation of facts in support of their motion. Parties opposing such motions must state in similar form whether they contend that a movant’s factual contentions are disputed, and a nonmovant’s failure to do so “will lead to the Court’s consideration of the moving party’s factual assertion(s) as undisputed.” See Section II.G., General Pretrial and Trial Procedures of Judge Gene E.K. Pratter. As stated above, on January 3, 2013, the Court ordered the Defendants to file a recitation of facts in accordance with its published policies, and gave Mr. Youry two weeks to confirm or deny whether the facts listed in the recitation were undisputed. Although the Defendants complied with their obligations under this order, Mr. Youry’s counsel did not. The Court could grant the pending motion on this basis alone, but will not do so in this instance but will, instead, consider whether the evidence discussed in the parties’ briefing or otherwise presented for the Court’s consideration presents any genuine issues of material fact that could allow a reasonable jury to find in favor of Mr. Youry. See Miller v. Ind. Hosp., 843 F.2d 139, 143 (3d Cir. 1988); see also Anderson v. Wachovia Mortg. Corp., 621 F.3d 261, 267 (3d Cir. 2010) (noting that at the summary judgment stage, courts must draw all reasonable inferences and resolve conflicting evidence in favor of the non-moving party). With this especially indulgent interpretation in mind, the Court sets forth the evidence adduced by the parties during discovery.

The parties agree that Mr. Youry first became an independent contractor affiliated with Executive in the summer of 2006. Pursuant to a series of contracts, Executive leased town cars to Mr. Youry, who in turn used the cars to drive customers in exchange for fares. On March 7, 2008, Mr. Youry entered his final contract with Executive, which remained in effect until the date of termination.

In February 2010, following the earthquake that devastated much of Haiti, Mr. Youry returned to his native homeland to visit family members who lived there. Prior to departing for Haiti, Mr. Youry returned his car to Executive and thereby ensured that he would not have to make lease payments while he was travelling. After returning to the United States, Mr. Youry received a new vehicle from Executive, which he drove for approximately two months prior to his termination. Mr. Youry has testified that he did not allow anyone else to use this vehicle while it was in his possession.

According to Mr. Youry’s testimony, his leased vehicle began to overheat in early May 2012. This development prompted Mr. Youry to return the vehicle to Executive, whereupon an Executive employee drove the vehicle to Johnny’s Auto Repair. On May 4, 2010, John Cinque, the owner of the repair shop, telephoned Executive and informed Mr. Burkhardt that the words “F*** All 3s” were carved into the dashboard panel of Mr. Youry’s vehicle.[3] That same day, Mr. Burkhardt and Mr. McQuillan III inspected the vehicle and spoke with Mr. Youry about the defacing on the dashboard. Mr. McQuillan has testified that Mr. Youry denied carving the obscenity into the dashboard, and claimed that the dashboard was already defaced at the time he received his vehicle in March 2010.[4] Mr. Burkhardt and Mr. McQuillan proceeded to immediately terminate Mr. Youry’s contract with Executive. Mr. McQuillan has testified that the termination occurred because, regardless of whether Mr. Youry carved the obscenity, “he had been driving with [the obscene statement] in a visible spot for over a month where our customers could see it.” Mr. McQuillan also has testified that the dashboard carving was the sole reason that Executive ended its relationship with Mr. Youry.

Summary Judgment Standard

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 on the motion in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. However, “[u]nsupported assertions, conclusory allegations, or mere suspicions are insufficient to overcome a motion for summary judgment.” Betts v. New Castle Youth Dev. Ctr., 621 F.3d 249, 252 (3d Cir. 2010).

The movant bears the initial responsibility for informing the court of the basis for the motion for summary judgment and identifying those portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Where the non-moving party bears the burden of proof on a particular issue, the moving party’s initial burden can be met simply by “pointing out to the district court that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party’s case.” Id. at 325. After the moving party has met the initial burden, the non-moving party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuinely disputed factual issue for trial by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . ., admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials” or by “showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Summary ...


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