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Bloch v. Mack Trucks, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

March 7, 2017

BARRY BLOCH, Plaintiff,
v.
MACK TRUCKS, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Schmehl, J.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, Barry Bloch (“Plaintiff” or “Bloch”), brings this suit against his former employer, Mack Trucks, Inc. (“Defendant” or “Mack”), under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621, et seq, and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”), 43 P.S. § 951 et seq., alleging that Defendant terminated his employment because of his age. Before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment of Defendant, Plaintiff's response in opposition to the motion, and Defendant's reply. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion is granted.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 56(c). “A motion for summary judgment will not be defeated by ‘the mere existence' of some disputed facts, but will be denied when there is a genuine issue of material fact.” Am. Eagle Outfitters v. Lyle & Scott Ltd., 584 F.3d 575, 581 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-248 (1986)). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or non-existence might affect the outcome of the litigation, and a dispute is “genuine” if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

         In undertaking this analysis, the court views the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. “After making all reasonable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor, there is a genuine issue of material fact if a reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party.” Pignataro v. Port Auth. of N.Y. and N.J., 593 F.3d 265, 268 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing Reliance Ins. Co. v. Moessner, 121 F.3d 895, 900 (3d Cir. 1997)). While the moving party bears the initial burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, meeting this obligation shifts the burden to the non-moving party who must “set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250.

         III. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff began working for Defendant on January 24, 1977. (ECF 14, Ex. A, referred to as Bloch Dep. at 16.) Starting in the early 1980's, he worked in the maintenance department at Defendant's Macungie plant, including over ten years as a maintenance mechanic. (Bloch Dep. at 21-23, 25.) Plaintiff's employment was terminated on January 13, 2014, when he was 57 years old. (Bloch Dep. at 7, 25.) At the time of his termination, Plaintiff worked second shift, regularly scheduled from 2:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Bloch Dep. at 29.)

         Bloch's duties included repairing trucks needing maintenance, as well as coordinating the removal of bulk scrap metal from Defendant's facility approximately three or four times a year with C. Lick, Jr. Salvage, Inc. as the removal service. (Bloch Dep. at 25, 39, 49-50.) When scrap metal needed to be removed, a supervisor would contact Bloch and request his help. (Bloch Dep. at 39-40.) Plaintiff would assess the scrap to determine how many trucks would be needed to haul it, then contact C. Lick's owner, Clifford Lick, to discuss the price and coordinate for the scrap to be picked up. (Bloch Dep. at 50-52.) Bloch would also talk to Al Fox, who would generate an Authorization to Ship (“ATS”) form, which was required to document scrap metal removal at Mack. (Bloch Dep. at 48, 52; Gombos Dep. at 11; ECF 14, Ex. I.) At the time of the removal, Bloch would generally provide the ATS to the C. Lick driver and help load the scrap onto the trucks. (Bloch Dep. at 52.) Plaintiff testified that on occasion, C. Lick would be provided with the ATS after the pick-up was completed. (Bloch Dep. at 52-53.) In support of this contention, Plaintiff supplied a statement from a former supervisor, William Laudenslager, who claimed that occasionally, he was verbally advised to clean up scrap metal and the paperwork for these clean-ups was provided after the fact. (Bloch Dep. at 173-174, ECF 14, Ex. K.) It is undisputed, however, that Bloch had requested an ATS for scrap metal pick-up that occurred on November 8, 2013 and November 18, 2013. (Bloch Dep. at 83-86; ECF 14, Ex. I.) After C. Lick picked up the scrap, they would weigh the scrap at their own facility, and then issue Mack a check. (Bloch Dep. at 54; Gombos Dep. at 9-10.)

         During the week of November 4, 2013, Plaintiff was advised by Dave Sodl, PM Coordinator, that certain scrap metal needed to be removed for an upcoming visit from Defendant's CEO. (Complaint, ¶ 10.) Plaintiff coordinated the removal of scrap metal by C. Lick on Friday, November 8, 2013, and had the ATS generated by Mr. Fox. (Bloch Dep. at 77, 84-85.) Bloch claims that it rained that day, so they could not finish the removal and C. Lick trucks were required to return on Sunday. (Bloch Dep. at 77.)

         Plaintiff states that he appeared for work on Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 10:30 a.m., four hours prior to the start of his scheduled overtime shift, which he had been canvassed to work earlier that week by his supervisor. (Bloch Dep. at 62-69.) Bloch did not have permission to appear to work this early before his scheduled shift. (Bloch Dep. at 69, 71.)

         Upon being questioned by other employees as to why Bloch was permitted to work early start overtime that day, and they were not, Steve Furman, the supervisor on duty that day found Plaintiff loading scrap metal onto C. Lick trucks. (Gombos Dep. at 11-12; Filipowicz Dep. at 8, 13.) Furman was surprised to find Bloch loading scrap metal, since scrap metal removal usually did not occur on the weekends and no one had told him that it was going to be taking place on that day. (Furman Dep. at 16, 14, 25.) Furman did not stop Bloch from removing the scrap metal because Bloch told him that he had been instructed to remove the scrap. (Furman Dep. at 16, 25, 18.) Furman confirmed that he saw the name “C. Lick” on the side of the trucks. (Furman Dep. at 12.) Bloch contends that he and Furman discussed that Bloch had some but not all of the paperwork necessary for the removal, and that Furman told him to remove the scrap anyway. (Bloch Dep. at 86-87.) However, Furman testified that he had asked Bloch what he was doing when he saw him loading the C. Lick truck and that Bloch told him “he was told to clean up the area.” (Furman Dep. at 24-25.) At some point, Furman went to talk to Talat Butt, the security guard on duty, in the guard shack about the removal of the scrap metal, because removal on a Sunday was “very, very unusual.” (Furman Dep. at 20.) Butt told him that these trucks would be coming in and out, and that he had a conversation with Bloch, and that Bloch knew the trucks would be present. (Furman Dep. at 20-21.) Furman testified that Butt did not tell him that anyone had told Butt that he should not log the trucks in and out. (Furman Dep. at 21-22.) However, Butt's written statement states that a Mack employee instructed him not to log the trucks in and out. (ECF 14, Ex. W.)

         Bloch claims that one ATS form for the November 10, 2013, scrap removal had been generated and only the second load on that day lacked the proper paperwork. (Bloch Dep. at 86-87.) This conflicts with the information that Bloch gave Filipowicz, Defendant's Manager of Labor Relations, during Mack's investigation of the scrap removal, where he admitted several times that no ATS forms had been created for the November 10, 2013 scrap removal. (ECF 14, Exs. O and P.) This statement is in further conflict with the statement that Al Fox, the only person at Mack who could generate an ATS form, gave to Filipowicz during Mack's investigation, as Fox stated that no ATS forms were generated for November 10, 2013. (ECF 14, Ex. J.) Bloch also claims that he called two other supervisors on November 10, 2013, to let them know that the scrap metal had been removed, but both supervisors deny ever speaking to or hearing from Bloch that weekend, (Sodl Dep. at 17, Gombos Dep. at 15) and both advised Filipowicz during his investigation that they had no knowledge of scrap metal removal that weekend and had not authorized it. (ECF 14, Exs. S and T.) Further, Furman testified that when he asked Bloch for the paperwork related to the removal, Bloch told him that “it was being handled.” (Furman Dep. at 26.)

         Sometime later, Furman spoke with Sodl, Fox and Gombos, Manager of Facilities, to determine if anyone had given Plaintiff permission to remove scrap metal that weekend, and all three told him that they were unaware that scrap metal removal had occurred. (Furman Dep. at 22-23.) Filipowicz then began an investigation to determine why scrap metal had been removed without the necessary prior ...


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