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Schillaci v. Cargill Meat Solutions Corp.

United States District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania

September 15, 2014

TIMOTHY W. SCHILLACI, Plaintiff
v.
CARGILL MEAT SOLUTIONS CORP., Defendant

MEMORANDUM

MALACHY E. MANNION, United States District Judge.

Pending before the court is the defendant’s unopposed motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 40). Based upon the court’s review of the motion and the related materials, the defendant’s motion for summary judgment will be granted.

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

By way of relevant background, the plaintiff filed the instant action on March 28, 2012. (Doc. 1). On July 23, 2012, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Doc. 9). On August 8, 2012, the plaintiff’s attorney made the first of many motions for an extension of time to respond, (Doc. 13), which was granted by order dated August 10, 2012, (Doc. 14). On September 11, 2012, the plaintiff’s attorney made a second motion for an extension of time to respond to the defendant’s motion to dismiss. (Doc. 16). On the same day, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint. (Doc. 17).

On September 24, 2012, the defendant filed a partial motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s amended complaint. (Doc. 18)[1]. On October 23, 2012, when the plaintiff failed to file a brief in opposition to the defendant’s partial motion to dismiss his amended complaint, the defendant filed a praecipe to consider the plaintiff’s lack of contest as consent to the defendant’s motion to partially dismiss the plaintiff’s amended complaint. (Doc. 20). By order dated October 24, 2012, the court directed the plaintiff’s attorney to file an opposing brief or risk having the defendant’s motion granted as unopposed without a merits analysis. On November 6, 2012, the plaintiff’s attorney filed another motion for extension of time. (Doc. 22). The court granted the motion and allowed the plaintiff until November 20, 2012, to file his brief in opposition. (Doc. 23). On November 20, 2012, the plaintiff’s attorney filed his brief in opposition to the partial motion to dismiss. (Doc. 24).

By memorandum and order dated December 17, 2012, the defendant’s partial motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s amended complaint was granted with prejudice as to the plaintiff’s claims for wrongful discharge and age discrimination. (Doc. 27). The plaintiff was given twenty-one days to file a second amended complaint with regard to his failure to accommodate claim. In the order, the court specifically indicated that failure to file the second amended complaint in a timely manner would result in the failure to accommodate claim also being dismissed with prejudice. (Doc. 27). The plaintiff’s attorney did not timely file the second amended complaint, so the failure to accommodate claim was dismissed with prejudice by order dated January 29, 2013. (Doc. 31)[2].

On November 4, 2013, the defendant filed the instant motion for summary judgment, (Doc. 40), along with a supporting brief, (Doc. 41), and a statement of material facts with exhibits, (Doc. 42). On November 26, 2013, the plaintiff’s attorney filed a motion for an extension of time to respond to the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 43). The extension was granted by order dated December 2, 2013. (Doc. 44). On January 3, 2014, the defendant filed its first praecipe to deem the motion for summary judgment unopposed. (Doc. 45). The plaintiff responded to the defendant’s praecipe by requesting yet another extension of time. (Doc. 46). The plaintiff’s request was granted and he was given until March 24, 2014, to file his response to the defendant’s motion. (Doc. 47). On March 27, 2014, the defendant filed a second praecipe to deem the motion for summary judgment unopposed. (Doc. 48). The plaintiff has yet to respond to the defendant’s second praecipe and his counsel has had ample opportunity to respond to the defendant’s motion, but has not. Therefore, pursuant to Local Rule 7.6[3], this court will consider the defendant’s motion as unopposed.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND[4]

The defendant initially hired the plaintiff in May of 2006, as a “belly splitter”[5] in the dehider area. (Doc. 42, Ex. A, p. 16). When hired, the plaintiff indicated that he did not have any kind of disability that would affect his ability to work. (Id. at pp. 13-15; Ex. B). In October of 2006, the plaintiff resigned for personal reasons involving the birth of his son. (Id. at p. 21). The plaintiff testified at his deposition that he enjoyed his work at Cargill and was treated fairly during this period of time. (Id. at pp. 16, 21).

On April 8, 2008, Cargill rehired the plaintiff for a second term of employment in the “offal area” where the guts of the cattle would be separated. (Id. at pp. 22-23). Again, the plaintiff indicated on an employment form that he did not have any disability that would impair his ability to perform his duties. (Id. at p. 25-29; Ex. C). The plaintiff did mention, however, that he had received treatment for some minor emotional problems during the preceding year due to the death of his son. (Id. at p. 26; Ex. C).

On January 28, 2009, the plaintiff engaged in gross misconduct when he slapped a co-worker with purple ink on the back, destroying a pair of coveralls. (Id. at p. 45; Ex. D). He was suspended for three days and given a “final” written warning, which he signed and acknowledged. (Id. at p. 46; Ex. D). Within a few days of his return from suspension, the plaintiff committed a safety infraction when he shot a rubber band at a co-worker. (Id. at pp. 45-48; Ex. E). The plaintiff was subsequently discharged and he did not contest his discharge. (Doc. 42, Ex. A, pp. 48-50; Ex. F).

On November 9, 2009, Cargill rehired Schillaci for his third and final term of employment. (Id. at p. 61). Again, the plaintiff indicated that he did not have any disability that would affect his ability to work. (Id. at pp. 61-62; Ex. G). Shortly after the plaintiff began his third term of employment, he was diagnosed with trigger finger[6] and he was placed on restricted light duty doing “tongue and cheek washing.” (Id. at pp. 69-70). On February 22, 2010, the plaintiff’s restrictions were lifted and, as per his request, he returned to more rigorous work in the blood pit, pulling the snouts off of cattle heads. (Id. at pp. 73, 76).

It was during this third term of employment that the plaintiff testified that the incidents occurred which are the basis of the instant action. The plaintiff testified at his deposition that, while his immediate supervisor, Bob Vanderpool, generally treated him fairly, (Id. at pp. 79-80), Mr. Vanderpool told the plaintiff’s wife at the time that the plaintiff was “slow, . . . has ADHD, or something like that, and . . . needs to focus more.” (Id. at pp. 125, 185-86). The plaintiff testified that another supervisor, Tracy Woodruff, would tell workers that the plaintiff was “stupid and dumb, ” and would let the other employees yell at him. (Id. at pp. 78, 127). In addition, the plaintiff testified that a third-party USDA inspector, Frank Huffman, asked of him while he was on light duty “isn’t that a girl’s job?”, (Id. at p. 71), and that one of the trainers, Pete Hay, told new hires that he was a “troublemaker” and to “watch out for him.” (Id. at p. 217). With respect to co-workers, the plaintiff testified that they insulted him and otherwise made his job difficult, (Id. at pp. 75, 103-04, 124-25, 226-27), would sing in a “sarcastic way”, (Id. at p. 195), would “shoot rubber bands and shit balls at his head, ” (Id. at pp. 204-05), and would imply that he was difficult to work with, (Id. at p. 236-37). The plaintiff’s final allegation of mistreatment is that the safety captain would always stare at him. (Id. at p. 131).

The plaintiff generally alleges that he complained to his supervisors about these incidents, but could not recall the specifics of his complaints. (Id. at pp. 103-04, 199-200). He admits, however, that he did not claim that he was being harassed as a result of any alleged disability. (Id. at p. 281). In fact, when he submitted his only written complaint to the Human Resources Department, it merely indicated that he “had been harassed ...


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