United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
brought this action, claiming he was placed on surplus status
by his former employer, defendant AT&T Services, Inc.,
because of his age in violation of the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. §§
621-629 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act
(“PHRA”), 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 951.
After the Court denied the defendant's motion for summary
judgment, the case was tried to the Court sitting with a
jury. After a five-day trial, the jury found, as indicated on
the verdict form, that plaintiff had proven by a
preponderance of the evidence that his age was the
determining factor in the decision to surplus his employment
in connection with a reduction in force. (ECF 91.) The jury
awarded plaintiff $288, 000.00 in back pay and $135, 000.00
in front pay. (Id.).The jury further found that
defendant had proven by a preponderance of the evidence that
plaintiff did not exercise reasonable diligence in his
efforts to secure substantially equivalent employment and, as
a result, deducted $53, 000.00 from the award of front pay,
leaving a total front pay award of $82, 000.00.
(Id.) Finally, the jury found that plaintiff had
failed to prove that defendant either knew or showed reckless
disregard for whether its conduct was prohibited by the age
discrimination law. (Id.) The Court then entered a
judgment in favor of plaintiff and against defendant in the
amount of $370, 000.00. (ECF 87.) Presently before the Court
is the renewed motion of the plaintiff for judgment as a
matter of law pursuant to Rule 50(b) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. For the reasons that follow, the motion is
motion for judgment as a matter of law under Fed.R.Civ.P.
50(b) “should be granted only if, viewing the evidence
in the light most favorable to the non-movant and giving it
the advantage of every fair and reasonable inference, there
is insufficient evidence from which a jury reasonably could
find” for the non-movant. Lightning Lube, Inc. v.
Witco Corp., 4 F.3d 1153, 1166 (3d Cir. 1993);
Mandile v. Clark Material Handling Co., 131
Fed.Appx. 836, 838 (3d Cir. 2005).
making this determination, “the court may not weigh the
evidence, determine the credibility of the witnesses, or
substitute its version of the facts for the jury's
version.” Lightning Lube, 4 F.3d at 1166
(citing Fineman v. Armstrong World Indus., Inc., 980
F.2d 171, 190 (3d Cir. 1992)).
question is not whether there is literally no evidence
supporting the party against whom the motion is directed but
whether there is evidence upon which the jury could properly
find a verdict for that party.” Id. (quoting
Patzig v. O'Neil, 577 F.2d 841, 846 (3d Cir.
2004) (“A judge may overturn a jury verdict only when,
as a matter of law, the record is critically deficient of
that minimum quantity of evidence from which a jury might
reasonably afford relief.”)(quotations omitted)).
requests that the Court enter judgment as a matter of law for
liquidated damages in the amount of $288, 000. Specifically,
plaintiff argues that “[b]ecause the jury found that
Defendants intentionally discriminated against Plaintiff
based on his age, and because . . . Defendants' witnesses
who were involved in the employment decision at issue
admitted that they were aware of the law that prohibits age
discrimination (including that consideration of age in an
employment decision is illegal), Plaintiff should have been
awarded liquidated damages as a matter of law.” (ECF
104 at p. 5.)(emphasis in original). Plaintiff further
asserts that “[t]he fact that Question No. 5 was
included on the Verdict Form for the jury to consider was a
signal to the jury that there had to be additional evidence
to find that Defendants ‘either knew or showed reckless
disregard for whether their conduct was prohibited by the age
discrimination law.'” (Id. at p.9.)
According to the plaintiff, “[t]he inclusion of that
question on the Verdict Form would lead the jury to conclude
that the evidence which the jury considered in reaching its
conclusion that Defendants intentionally discriminated
against Plaintiff based on his age . . . was not sufficient
for the jury to answer ‘Yes' to Question No. 5 (but
without any guidance as to what else might be needed.)”
or double, damages are available where the employer engaged
in a willful violation of the ADEA. 29 U.S.C. 626(b). A
liquidated damages award doubles the plaintiff's back pay
award but is punitive in nature. Starceski v.
Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 54 F.3d 1089, 1102 (3d Cir.
1995). An employer willfully violates the ADEA where it acts
with knowing or reckless disregard as to whether its conduct
was prohibited by the ADEA. Hazen Paper Co. v.
Biggins, 507 U.S. 604, 614 (1993).
1 of the Verdict Form read as follows:
1. Has Plaintiff proven by a preponderance of the evidence
that his age was the determining factor (i.e. the
‘but-for' cause) in the decision to surplus his
employment as a Service Executive in connection with the
reduction in force?
Yes of No ________ Yes ___________
Question 5 of the Verdict Form read as follows:
5. Did Plaintiff, John Gerundo, prove by a preponderance of
the evidence that AT&T either knew or showed reckless
disregard for whether its conduct was prohibited ...