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Mummey v. Quad/Graphics Printing Corp.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

November 13, 2014

VERN MUMMEY, Plaintiff,


JAMES M. MUNLEY, District Judge.

Before the court for disposition are defendant's motions in limine filed in advance of the pretrial conference. (Docs. 62, 64, 66, 68 & 70). The motions have been fully briefed and are ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the motions will be granted in part and denied in part.


The instant age discrimination action arose from Plaintiff Vern Mummey's (hereinafter "plaintiff") employment with Defendant QG, LLC (hereinafter "defendant").[1]

Plaintiff was born on October 14, 1952 and began working as an accountant in 1990 at the defendant's Hazleton facility. (Doc. 33, Def.'s Statement of Material Facts (hereinafter "SOF") ¶¶ 8-9).[2] In 2002, defendant terminated plaintiff's employment as part of a workforce reduction. (Id. ¶ 12). Defendant, however, rehired plaintiff as an accounting supervisor two years later in 2004. (Id. ¶ 13).

As an accounting supervisor, plaintiff's primary responsibilities included closing the plant's general ledger, maintaining the fixed asset ledger, performing a detailed profitability analysis and supervising staff. (Id. ¶ 20). In 2010, plaintiff's title changed from accounting supervisor to senior financial analyst. (Id. ¶ 18). Plaintiff continued working as a senior financial analyst until 2012 when defendant eliminated his position. (Id. ¶ 40).

Regarding the elimination of plaintiff's senior financial analyst position, defendant asserts that in 2010 it engaged in a system-wide reorganization effort to achieve synergies and reduce costs. (Id. ¶¶ 4, 35). Defendant's reduction in force resulted in the closure of fourteen (14) plants and termination of approximately 5, 500 employees. (Id. ¶ 6). Roughly seventy (70) individuals lost their employment at defendant's Hazleton facility from 2011-2013. (Id. ¶ 7).

Specifically, in 2011, Frederick Blase (hereinafter "Blase"), controller of defendant's Hazleton facility, recommended the elimination of plaintiff's position. (Id. ¶ 39). John Ross (hereinafter "Ross"), Executive Director of Finance for Print Operations, agreed with Blase's recommendation and on February 24 eliminated plaintiff's position. (Id.) Plaintiff disputes that his position was eliminated in defendant's reduction in force plan. Rather, he claims that he was the victim of age discrimination.

In response, plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit on May 29, 2012. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff's single-count complaint alleges a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (hereinafter "ADEA"), 29 U.S.C.A. § 621 et seq. After discovery and a motion for summary judgment, the court ruled that plaintiff's age discrimination claim utilizing direct and/or circumstantial evidence could proceed to trial.

A pretrial conference has been scheduled, and in accordance with the court's rule, defendant has filed five (5) motions in limine. We will address them in seriatim .

1. Motion to exclude claims for front pay

Defendant moves to exclude plaintiff from offering at trial evidence pertaining to a front pay award. The preferred remedy in ADEA cases is back pay coupled with reinstatement.[3] Maxfield v. Sinclair Int'l, 766 F.2d 788, 796 (3d Cir. 1985). "Back pay compensates the plaintiff for loss of past wages, and reinstatement insures that no future losses will accrue due to discrimination." Blum v. Witco Chem. Corp., 829 F.2d 367, 373 (3d Cir. 1987).

The Third Circuit has recognized, however, that reinstatement is not always feasible because of a reduction in workforce or irreparable animosity between the parties. Id. at 373-74. In such a case, "back pay will still defray past losses, but the alternate remedy' of front pay must be used to make the plaintiff whole for future expected losses." Id. at 374 (citing Maxfield, 766 F.2d at 796). A court may award front pay "for a reasonable future period required for the victim to reestablish [his] rightful place in the job market." Donlin v. Philips Lighting N. Am. Corp., 581 F.3d 73, 87 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Gross v. Exxon Office Sys. Co., 747 F.2d 885, 889-90 (3d Cir. 1984)).[4]

In the instant matter, defendant seeks to preclude evidence of front pay because plaintiff has no expert witness to address front pay. Plaintiff seeks to offer his own testimony regarding front pay. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has held that "expert testimony is not always required to prove damages in a case where projected future earnings are a part of the calculation." Donlin, 581 F.3d at 82 (internal citation omitted) (internal quotation mars omitted). Rather, Rule 701 "requires a lay witness to have a reasonable basis grounded either in experience or specialized knowledge for arriving at the opinion he or she expresses."[5] Id . Further, "a trial judge must rigorously examine the reliability of a layperson's opinion by ensuring that the witness ...

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