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Joyce v. Taylor Health and Rehabilitation Center, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 12, 2014

ELIZABETH JOYCE, Plaintiff,
v.
TAYLOR HEALTH AND REHABILITATION CENTER, LLC, d/b/a RIVERSIDE REHABILITATION & NURSING CENTER f/k/a TAYLOR NURSING AND REHAB CENTER, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM

RICHARD P. CONABOY, District Judge.

Here we consider Plaintiff Elizabeth Joyce's Motion to Reconsider Entry of Summary Judgment in Favor of Defendant (Doc. 48) filed on March 12, 2014, and accompanied by a brief in support of the motion (Doc. 49). Plaintiff asserts that the Court made an error of law in its grant of summary judgment for two reasons: 1) another United States District Judge in the Middle District did not grant summary judgment in a similar case; and 2) the Court's determination that certain facts were deemed admitted by Plaintiff based on inadequate responses to Defendant's factual assertions was too harsh a sanction for failure to comply with Local Rule 56.1 of the Local Rules of Court of the Middle District of Pennsylvania. (Doc. 49 at 1-5.) Defendant filed Defendant's Brief in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Reconsider Entry of Summary Judgment in Favor of Defendant (Doc. 51) on March 21, 2014. Plaintiff did not file a reply brief and the time for doing so has passed. Therefore, this matter is ripe for disposition. For the reasons discussed below, we conclude Plaintiff's motion is properly denied.

I. Background

Although Plaintiff takes issue with the Court's determination that Plaintiff was deemed to have admitted certain facts based on her failure to comply with Local Rule 56.1 ( see Doc. 45 at 1 n.1), Plaintiff does not propose any specific refutation with her current motion or provide an alternative factual background. ( See Doc. 49.) Therefore, the Court adopts the factual background set out in the Court's summary judgment Memorandum (Doc. 45 at 1-5) as the basis for deciding the pending motion.

Plaintiff was employed by Defendant in the position of Licensed Practical Nurse ("LPN") from November 1992 through July 20, 2010. (Doc. 33 ¶¶ 1-2; Doc. 39 ¶¶ 1-2.) She was a member of the Union. (Doc. 33 ¶ 46.)
Plaintiff was born on June 28, 1957, and was fifty-three years old when she was discharged. (Doc. 33 ¶¶ 3-4; Doc. 39 ¶¶ 3-4.) Plaintiff first worked night shift on the first floor caring for patients. (Doc. 33 ¶ 5; Doc. 39 ¶ 5.) She then worked as a floater between the second and third floors and was working day shift on the third floor at the time of her discharge. (Doc. 33 ¶¶ 6-7; Doc. 39 ¶¶ 6-7.) Plaintiff was responsible for approximately thirty residents with duties including passing medications, taking care of orders, supervising CNAs, performing treatments, checking labs and urines and ensuring that residents received nourishment. (Doc. 33 ¶¶ 8-9; Doc. 39 ¶¶ 8-9.)
At the time Plaintiff was discharged, Joan Hanlon was Director of Nursing and Rob Nealon was the Administrator of the facility. (Doc. 33 ¶¶ 11-12; Doc. 39 ¶¶ 11-12.) Defendant was then considered a "special focus facility, " generally not considered a positive designation and one which resulted in heightened scrutiny by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health. (Doc. 33 ¶¶ 13-15; Doc. 39 ¶¶ 13-15.) Joan Hanlon and Rob Nealon were responsible for addressing issues at the facility which led to the "special focus facility" designation. (Doc. 33 ¶ 16; Doc. 39 ¶ 16.)
Defendant had a Corrective Discipline System in place which was progressive in nature. (Doc. 33 ¶ 17.) Defendant avers that Plaintiff had been given an Employee Handbook and knew there was a Corrective Discipline System. (Doc. 33 ¶ 18.) Plaintiff maintains she was not given an employee handbook or in-service training on disciplinary issues. (Doc. 39 ¶ 17.)
Defendant states that Plaintiff was issued at least eleven disciplinary actions between August 7, 1995, and July 20, 2010. (Doc. 33 ¶ 21.) Plaintiff states that she testified in another lawsuit ("the Judy Dervas lawsuit") that in the twenty years she was employed she was never written up other than for one day being late due to a snowstorm and all of the discipline imposed on her was imposed in the one year prior to her termination. (Doc. 39 ¶ 19.)
Defendant maintains that Plaintiff was terminated under the Corrective Disciplinary System as a result of two disciplines issued on July 20, 2010, for performing treatments in public areas. (Doc. 33 ¶ 22.) Plaintiff denies this, referencing the pretextual nature of the reasons provided. (Doc. 39 ¶ 22.) Defendant avers that performing a treatment on a resident in a public area is the type of infraction that would contribute to a facility being designated as a "special focus facility"; Plaintiff states that Defendant cannot produce evidence that Plaintiff performing treatments in public areas had any effect on the classification as a "special focus facility." (Doc. 33 ¶ 23; Doc. 39 ¶ 23.) Plaintiff also cites the statement made by Joan Hanlon at her deposition that she would have terminated Plaintiff even without the "special focus facility" designation. (Doc. 39 ¶ 23.)
The first treatment which resulted in the July 20th discipline was administered by Plaintiff on July 19, 2010, in a hallway of the facility. (Doc. 33 ¶ 24.) On the same date, Plaintiff was educated regarding proper treatment administration relating to performing treatments in public areas. (Doc. 33 ¶ 25.) Defendant avers that the next day Plaintiff performed another treatment on a resident in a public area; Plaintiff admits to performing the treatment but maintains she performed the treatment in the medication room with the resident's foot in that area. (Doc. 33 ¶¶ 28-29.) Plaintiff acknowledges that the medication room would have been too small to close the door while performing the treatment. (Doc. 33 ¶ 32.) The medication room is not a private area and treatments are not permitted in the room as anyone can see into it. (Doc. 33 ¶ 34.)
Plaintiff admits no one at the facility ever made negative comments about her age and the facility "relied an awful lot on the older workers that were there." (Doc. 33 ¶¶ 38-39.) As of the date of discharge-July 20, 2010-Defendant employed twenty-five others as LPNs, ten of whom were the same age or older than Plaintiff. (Doc. 33 ¶¶ 40-41.) Nineteen of the twenty-five qualified for protection under the ADEA. (Doc. 33 ¶ 42.) Between July 20, 2010, and July 21, 2011, Defendant hired thirty-seven individuals in the position of Licensed Practical Nurse, eleven of whom were the same age or older than Plaintiff and twenty-two qualified for protection under the ADEA. (Doc. 33 ¶¶ 43-45.)

(Doc. 45 at 1-5.)

II. ...


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