Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Mikulan v. Allegheny County

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

May 31, 2017

WALTER MIKULAN, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER ON MOTIONS IN LIMINE

          Cynthia Reed Eddy, United States Magistrate Judge

         I. OPINION

         This is an action brought by Plaintiff Walker Mikulan under the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 22601 et seq., the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. § 951 et seq. Trial is set to begin in this matter on June 5, 2017 and there are a total of twelve motions in limine pending before the Court. The Court will address the motions seriatim.

         A. BACKGROUND

         As the facts of the case are well known to the parties, it is unnecessary to repeat them in detail here. Thus, the Court will state only the facts that are needed to put the following rulings in the appropriate context. Mikulan was employed by Allegheny County from 1984 until August 2013, working at the Allegheny County Jail for that whole time. He started as a corrections officer and eventually became a Major, which is the third highest rank at the jail, only below the Deputy Warden and the Warden. In October 2012, Orlando Harper became the Warden of the jail. According to Mikulan, Warden Harper immediately began harassing Mikulan and another Major, Ronald Pofi, both of whom were over the age of 55. Mikulan contends that Warden Harper viewed FMLA leave negatively, allegedly stating on one occasion that the Jail needed to “combat FMLA, ” and that Harper targeted Mikulan because of Mikulan's use of intermittent FMLA.

         Beginning in late 2012, Deputy Warden William Emerick issued Mikulan three disciplinary actions. First, in December 2012, Emerick gave Mikulan a “counseling session” for Mikulan's alleged failure to ensure that jail staff completed a “roll call book.” Second, in February 2013, the day that Mikulan returned from a month-long FMLA leave, Mikulan was issued a warning for his alleged “failure to properly monitor Overtime Justification Sheets.” Third, on July 29, 2013, Mikulan was issued a warning for allegedly not timely turning in “Property Accountability Sheets.” According to Mikulan, these three disciplinary actions were baseless and initiated at the direction of Warden Harper.

         Warden Harper terminated Mikulan's employment on August 13, 2013. At the time of the termination, Warden Harper did not provide a reason for the termination. But Warden Harper testified extensively about his decision to terminate Mikulan in his deposition:

Q: Were those two sections in fact the basis for your decision to terminate Major Mikulan?
A: My decision to terminate Major Mikulan was the three insubordinate incidents that he had that has been noted in his disciplinary file.
***
Q: All of the information that you are aware of that relates to those three incidents that were the bases for Major Mikulan's termination is contained within his disciplinary file; is that correct?
A: Yes.
***
Q: Was your decision to terminate Walter Mikulan based on anything other than the documentation that is found in his disciplinary file?
A: Absolutely not.

Harper Dep. at 94-95, 103.

         Warden Harper was questioned about an answer to an interrogatory indicating that Mikulan's “lack of support” for Warden Harper was identified as the reason for termination:

Q: Please tell me every piece of information, to the extent you haven't already told me, that would support your contention in the answer to interrogatories that Major Mikulan's quote, “lack of support for the warden was hindering the warden's ability to achieve the goals he had set for the jail.”
A: The three incidents of insubordination that's in his disciplinary file.
Q: Again, give me every piece of information in your possession that would support the contention that Major Mikulan was “unable to supervise staff, follow instruction, failed to provide guidance and did not satisfactorily perform his duties as a major at the Allegheny County Jail.”
A.: The three incidents of insubordination in his disciplinary file.
Q: You are not aware of any other information other than the information in the disciplinary file that would support any of the allegations made in this complaint; is that correct --excuse me, made in this answer?
A. Correct.
***
Q: Have you terminated anyone other than Major Mikulan due to a perceived lack of support of your objectives?
A: I didn't terminate Major Mikulan for lack of support for my objectives. I terminated Major Mikulan for his three insubordinate violations that took place.

Harper Dep. at 116-117, 136.

         Therefore, Mikulan asserts in his motions that it would be inappropriate to allow the County to point to any evidence of Mikulan's purported “lack of support” for Warden Harper beyond what Warden Harper specifically testified about in the above excerpts. However, the County provided the following deposition testimony not offered by Mikulan, which arguably contradicts Mikulan's assertion that Harper's testimony was so limited:

Q: What was the basis for your decision not to give Mikulan a suspension of some particular number of days?
A: As I stated previously, Mr. Mikulan apparently did not agree with how I was managing the jail. He did not agree with a lot of the changes I wanted to make.
Major Mikulan was the third highest ranking official in the jail, and I can't have someone on my team that do not agree with how I manage.
I cannot have the third highest ranking official on my team be insubordinate on three different occasions. I cannot have somebody on my team that don't want to take the agency in the direction that I wanted to take the agency in.
And as a new warden, I need people on my team that want to take the agency in the direction I ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.