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Landmesser v. Hazleton Area School District

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

November 12, 2013

FRANCIS G. LANDMESSER, Plaintiff
v.
HAZLETON AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant

Page 409

Francis G. Landmesser, Plaintiff, Pro se, Nanticoke, PA.

For Hazleton Area School District, Defendant: Carl P. Beard, Jr., Elizabeth A. Benjamin, Andews & Beard Law Offices, Altoona, PA.

For Mediator, Mediator: James A. Gibbons, LEAD ATTORNEY, Gibbons Law Firm, Scranton, PA.

OPINION

Page 410

MEMORANDUM

MALACHY E. MANNION, United States District Judge.

Pending before the court are the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, (Doc. No. 20), and the defendant's motion for summary judgment, (Doc. No. 26). Based upon the court's review of the motions and related materials, the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment will be dismissed, and the defendant's motion for summary judgment will be granted.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

By way of relevant background, the plaintiff filed the instant employment discrimination action on April 20, 2012. (Doc. No. 1). By order dated September 26, 2012, (Doc. No. 10), the defendant's motion for a more definite statement, (Doc. No. 8), was granted and the plaintiff was directed to file an amended complaint. The plaintiff filed his amended complaint on October 22, 2012. (Doc. No. 11). On November 5, 2012, the defendant filed an answer to the amended complaint. (Doc. No. 12).

On August 14, 2013, the plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment with attached exhibits. (Doc. No. 20). A brief in support of the motion for summary judgment was filed on August 29, 2013. (Doc. No. 21). On September 18, 2013, the defendant filed a response to the motion for summary judgment, (Doc. No. 22), a response to the brief in support of the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, (Doc. No. 23), a statement of material facts,

Page 411

(Doc. No. 24), and an opposing brief, (Doc. No. 25). On October 2, 2013, the plaintiff filed documents which the court construes as his reply brief. (Doc. No. 29, Doc. No. 30).

In the meantime, on September 26, 2013, the defendant filed its own motion for summary judgment, (Doc. No. 26), along with a statement of material facts, (Doc. No. 27), and a supporting brief, (Doc. No. 28). The plaintiff filed what the court construes as his opposing brief on October 2, 2013. (Doc. No. 29). The defendant requested and was granted permission to file an amended statement of material facts, which it did on October 9, 2013. (Doc. No. 34) [1]. Plaintiff filed a response to the defendant's motion for summary judgment, (Doc. No. 35), as well as a reply to the amended statement of facts, (Doc. No. 37) [2], on October 10, 2013. On October 24, 2013, the defendant filed a reply to the plaintiff's response to its corrected statement of material facts, (Doc. No. 38), as well as a reply brief in support of its motion for summary judgment, (Doc. No. 39).

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate " if the pleadings, the discovery [including, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file] and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Turner v. Schering-Plough Corp., 901 F.2d 335, 340 (3d Cir. 1990). A factual dispute is genuine if a reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party, and is material if it will affect the outcome of the trial under governing substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co. v. Ericksen, 903 F.Supp. 836, 838 (M.D. Pa. 1995). At the summary judgment stage, " the judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249; see also Marino v. Indus. Crating Co., 358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004) (a court may not weigh the evidence or make credibility determinations). Rather, the court must consider all evidence and inferences drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Andreoli v. Gates, 482 F.3d 641, 647 (3d Cir. 2007).

To prevail on summary judgment, the moving party must affirmatively identify those portions of the record which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24. The moving party can discharge the burden by showing that " on all the essential elements of its case on which it bears the burden of proof at trial, no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party." In re Bressman, 327 F.3d 229, 238 (3d Cir. 2003); See also Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. If the moving party meets this initial burden, the non-moving party " must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical

Page 412

doubt as to material facts," but must show sufficient evidence to support a jury verdict in its favor. Boyle v. County of Allegheny, 139 F.3d 386, 393 (3d Cir. 1998) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986)). However, if the non-moving party " fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to [the non-movant's] case, and on which [the non-movant] will bear the burden of proof at trial," Rule 56 mandates the entry of summary judgment because such a failure " necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-23; Jakimas v. Hoffmann-LaRoche, Inc., 485 F.3d 770, 777 (3d Cir. 2007).

III. DISCUSSION

The allegations of the plaintiff's amended complaint are relatively straightforward. In his amended complaint, the plaintiff alleges that, despite having met the original qualifications set by the Hazleton Area School District, he was denied a full-time Elementary contract teaching position. Although the plaintiff alleges that he " should have been selected for an elementary position because [he] posses[es] greater experience, qualifications, versatility, and skills than selected candidates and [he is] more suitable for the position," he alleges that he was not given the position because, at the time he interviewed, he was fifty-nine (59) years old and approaching retirement age. As a result of this alleged age discrimination, the plaintiff is seeking monetary and injunctive relief.

In an attempt to demonstrate that there are no material issues of fact for trial and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on his claims, the plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment. In considering the plaintiff's filing, contrary to Middle District of Pennsylvania Local Rules of Court, Local Rule 56.1, the plaintiff has failed to file a statement of material facts with appropriate record citations in support of his motion. Local Rule 56.1 provides, in relevant part:

A motion for summary judgment filed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, shall be accompanied by a separate, short and concise statement of the material facts, in numbered paragraphs, as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue to be tried.
* * *
Statements of material facts in support of, or in opposition to, a motion shall include references to the parts of the record that support the statements.

As this court has previously discussed, the requirement of a statement of undisputed material facts, as provided for in Local Rule 56.1, is consistent with Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, which requires the movant to show that there are no genuine issues of material fact for trial. Rocuba v. Mackrell, 2011 WL 6782955 (M.D. Pa. Dec. 21, 2011). Moreover, the purpose of the factual statements required by Local Rule 56.1 is not insignificant:

These statements are not merely superfluous abstracts of the evidence. Rather, they are intended to alert the court to precisely what factual questions are in dispute and point the court to the specific evidence in the record that supports a party's position on each of these questions. They are, in short, roadmaps, and without them the court should not have to proceed further, regardless of how readily it might be able to distill the relevant information from the record on its own.

Id. (citing Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 923 (7th Cir.1994) (addressing Local ...


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