United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
EDWARD J. GALLEN, ESQ. and ROBERT MILLER, ESQ., Plaintiffs,
CHESTER COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA and COUNTY OF CHESTER, DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Defendants.
PETRESE B. TUCKER, Circuit Judge.
Presently before the Court is Defendants County of Chester District Attorney's Office and Chester County, Pennsylvania's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum of Law in Support, Plaintiffs Edward J. Gallen and Robert Miller's Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants' Statement of Material Facts, and Defendants' Reply Brief In Support of Motion for Summary Judgment. Upon careful consideration of the parties' briefs, exhibits, and all other papers herein, and for the reasons set forth below, this Court will grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.
Defendant County of Chester District Attorney's Office ("DA's Office") employed Plaintiffs Edward J. Gallen and Robert Miller until they were discharged on January 12, 2012. Mr. Gallen was born on April 12, 1946. First. Am. Compl. ¶ 1. He was appointed to serve as an Assistant District Attorney ("ADA") in July 2000 at the level of Attorney I and served at that level through his termination in January 2012. Defs.' Statement of Facts ¶ 26. As an ADA, Mr. Gallen was responsible for, inter alia, preparing for and representing the DA's office at trials, supervising law students interning at the DA's Office, authorizing policemen to file criminal charges, and making public presentations on behalf of the DA's Office. Id. at ¶¶ 29-37. At the time of his discharge, Mr. Gallen prosecuted juvenile offenders and was 65 years old. First Am. Compl. ¶¶ 19, 28.
Mr. Miller was born on June 28, 1954. Id. ¶ 2. He was appointed as an ADA in January 1988 and served in the DA's Office until January 12, 2012. Id. at ¶ 22. In the 1990s, Mr. Miller expressed his unwillingness to prosecute drug cases. Defs.' Statement of Facts ¶ 66. He believes that all drugs should be legalized. Id. at ¶ 67. In 2003, Mr. Miller was promoted to the position of Chief Deputy District Attorney - Trials. Id. at ¶ 50. In this position, Mr. Miller supervised the Deputy District Attorneys and ADAs who worked in the trial division and assisted then, District Attorney, Joseph Carroll, Esq., ("DA Carroll"), in developing office policies. Id. at ¶¶ 52, 55. At the time of his termination, Mr. Miller was 57 years old. First Am. Compl. ¶ 28.
The Chester County District Attorney is the chief law enforcement officer for the County. DA Carroll was elected as the Chester County District Attorney in November 2001 and served through 2011 when he decided not to run for reelection. Under DA Carroll's administration, Mr. Miller was promoted to the position of Chief Deputy District Attorney - Trials. Defs.' Statement of Facts ¶ 50. During his administration, DA Carroll also appointed the Honorable Patrick Carmody ("Judge Carmody") to serve as First Assistant District Attorney. Id. at ¶ 11.
After DA Carroll decided not to run for reelection, Judge Carmody, Thomas P. Hogan ("DA Hogan"), and others expressed their interest in the open position. Id. at ¶ 10. The Republican Party endorsed DA Hogan for the election. Subsequently, DA Hogan and Judge Carmody met with the head of the Republican Party before the primary elections and DA Hogan agreed that he would not terminate Judge Carmody's employment if he were to win the election. Id. at ¶ 17. Instead, DA Hogan and Judge Carmody agreed that Judge Carmody would serve as Chief of Trials if DA Hogan won. Id. at ¶ 18.
DA Hogan was elected as the District Attorney for Chester County in November 2011 and assumed office on January 2, 2012. He had previously worked at the DA's Office as an ADA from 1998-2002. Id. at ¶ 13. Afterwards he served as an Assistant United States Attorney from 2002-2006 and later as a partner at a law firm from 2006-2011. Id. at ¶¶ 14-15. DA Hogan worked with Mr. Gallen for approximately two years when previously employed at the DA's Office. Id. at ¶ 42. While at the private law firm, he represented defendants in several juvenile matters opposite Mr. Gallen and felt that Mr. Gallen was, at times, non-responsive. Id. at ¶¶ 43-44. While at the DA's Office, DA Hogan also observed Mr. Miller in the courtroom on occasion. Id. at ¶ 105.
Following the 2011 election, DA Hogan assigned Judge Carmody to Chief of Trials, as they had agreed. In this role, Judge Carmody supervised all divisionary programs, continued working on major homicide cases, conducted educational training for attorneys, and served as the supervising Deputy District Attorney in Judge Streitel's courtroom. Id. at ¶ 117.
DA Hogan decided that he would appoint Michael Noone to the position of First Assistant and Charles Gaza to a newly created role of Chief of Staff. Id. at ¶ 76. Mr. Noone was age 37 at the time and Mr. Gaza was 42 years of age. See Pls.' Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. at 4. Messrs. Noone and Gaza were DA Hogan's advisors during his campaign for District Attorney. Defs.' Statement of Facts ¶ 85. Mr. Noone had previously worked at the DA's Office from March 2003 to May 2007 and Mr. Gaza had worked as an ADA at the DA's Office from May 2001 to August 2008. Id. at ¶¶ 77, 82. Messrs. Noone and Gaza served with both Plaintiffs. Id. at ¶¶ 78, 83.
DA Hogan met with Messrs. Noone and Gaza in November 2011 and discussed position changes and the potential termination of personnel in the office, including Plaintiffs and other ADAs on staff. Id. at ¶ 88. DA Hogan received feedback about Plaintiffs' job performance from several individuals, including prosecutors working in the DA's Office, Chester County law enforcement, and the defense bar. Id. DA Hogan and Mr. Gaza also spoke about Mr. Gallen's job performance with a senior attorney in the Juvenile Unit, Renee Merion. Id. at ¶¶ 89-90.
In December 2011, DA Hogan decided to hire three new ADAs. Id. at ¶ 95. He also asked his Office Administrator, Cheryl Greener, to prepare termination paperwork for six individuals, including Plaintiffs. Id. at ¶ 96. On January 12, 2012, DA Hogan discharged Plaintiffs and two other attorneys, John Pavlov and Norman Pine. Id. at ¶ 113. In lieu of termination, Mr. Gallen elected to retire. Id. at ¶ 114.
Later in January 2012, DA Hogan explained to members of the press that he initiated several changes within the DA's Office and stated that "[he] needed to reorganize to establish what a modern prosecutor's office should be." First Am. Compl. ¶ 36; Defs.' Statement of Facts ¶ 115. DA Hogan's goals for his administration included: improving the prosecution of drug crimes through the creation of a separate drug unit, proactively using the powers of a grand jury to investigate crimes, initiating vertical prosecutions, creating an office manual so that ADAs were aware of expectations and procedures, improving training for new ADAs and assigning them mentors, and creating a critical response team prepared to handle crises. See Defs.' Statement of Facts ¶ 23.
In January 2014, Judge Carmody was sworn in as a Judge for the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County. After Judge Carmody was sworn in, Ron Yen, who is approximately five months older than Mr. Miller, assumed the role of Chief Deputy District Attorney - Trials. Id. at ¶ 118.
In Count I of Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint, both Plaintiffs allege that Defendants violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. In Count II, Plaintiff Gallen alleges that Defendants violated the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 Pa. C.S.A. §§ 951, et seq. Defendants assert two independent arguments for the Court to grant summary judgment in their favor: 1) Plaintiffs are exempt from coverage under the ADEA and PHRA because they are "personal staff" and/or "appointees on the policymaking level" as defined by the ADEA; and 2) Plaintiffs' age discrimination claim lack substance.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Summary judgment shall be granted "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). A "genuine" issue exists where there is a "sufficient evidentiary basis on which a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Byrne v. Chester Cnty. Hosp., No. 09-889, 2012 WL 410886, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 19, 2012) (citing Kaucher v. Cnty. of Bucks, 455 F.3d 418, 423 (3d Cir. 2006). "A factual dispute is material' if it might affect the outcome of the case under governing law." Id. All factual doubts should be resolved, and all reasonable inferences drawn, in favor of the nonmoving party. Torretti v. Main Line Hosp., Inc., 580 F.3d 168, 172 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing DL Res., Inc. v. FirstEnergy Solutions Corp., 506 F.3d 209, 216 (3d Cir. 2007)). "The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is the need for a trial-whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Jiminez v. All Am. Rathskeller, Inc., 503 F.3d 247, 253 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, ...