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Gula v. Noonan

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

November 9, 2017

CARRIE ANN GULA, Plaintiff
v.
FRANK NOONAN, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          MALACHY E. MANNION UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This is a civil rights action brought pursuant to 42U.S.C. §1983, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), by plaintiff, Carrie Ann Gula ("Gula"), in which she alleges violations of her constitutional rights arising out of her employment with the Pennsylvania State Police ("PSP") and, an alleged assault incident between Gula and her boyfriend on August 1, 2012.

         Presently pending is the partial motion for summary judgment of defendants PSP Trooper Lisa Brogan ("Brogan") and Lieutenant Richard Krawetz ("Krawetz")and Lieutenant Anthony O'Hara ("O'Hara"), pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56, regarding Counts IV, VI and VIII of the plaintiff's amended complaint, i.e., her claims under the PHRA for sex discrimination, hostile work environment based on sex, and retaliation, to the extent Gula seeks to hold the three stated defendants individually liable. (Doc. 31). The court will also discuss Gula's PHRA claims against the PSP.

         Based upon the following discussion, the partial motion for summary judgment of Brogan, Krawetz and O'Hara regarding Counts IV, VI and VIII of the amended complaint will be GRANTED since Gula's claims against these defendants individually under the PHRA cannot proceed. The court will also DISMISS WITH PREJUDICE Gula's PHRA claims against the PSP since they are barred by the Eleventh Amendment.

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Since the court stated the factual background of this case in its November 8, 2017 Memorandum, (Doc. **), it will not be repeated herein.

         Gula is currently proceeding on her amended complaint under §1983, Title VII and, the PHRA which was filed on August 29, 2016. (Doc. 19). The plaintiffs amended complaint is comprised of eight counts, to wit: (1) First Amendment retaliation claim and Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim based on her sex against the individual defendants[1] in violation of 42 U.S.C. §1983; (2) malicious prosecution in violation of the Fourth Amendment and §1983 against Krawetz, and Brogan; (3) sex discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §2000e, et seq., against PSP; (4) sex discrimination claims against all defendants under the PHRA, 43 Pa. Stat. §951, et seq, ; (5) hostile work environment claim based on sex under Title VII against PSP; (6) hostile work environment claim based on sex against all defendants under the PHRA; (7) retaliation claim under Title VII against PSP; and (8) retaliation claim against all defendants under the PHRA.

         On March 22, 2017, Brogan, Krawetz and O'Hara filed their partial motion for summary judgment of regarding plaintiffs stated PHRA claims seeking to hold them individually liable in Counts IV, VI and VIII of her amended complaint. (Doc. 31)- They simultaneously filed their statement of facts with exhibits and a brief in support. (Doc. 32, Doc. 33, Docs. 37-63). The plaintiff filed her brief in opposition[2] to Brogan, Krawetz and O'Hara's motion and her response to their statement of facts on May 10, 2017. (Doc. 85, Doc. 87). Plaintiff filed exhibits in support of her brief. (Docs. 76-83). Brogan, Krawetz and O'Hara filed a reply brief on June 7, 2017. (Doc. 92). Their motion is now ripe for disposition by the court.

         This court has jurisdiction over Gula's federal claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. S1331 and §1343 as well as 42 U.S.C. §2000e-5(f)(3). The court can exercise pendent jurisdiction over the state law claims under 28 U.S.C. §1337. Venue is proper in this district under 28 U.S.C. §1391(b).

         III. MATERIAL FACTS

         The court incorporates by reference the material facts of this case from its November 8, 2017 Memorandum, (Doc. 94).[3] On December 13, 2012, Krawetz filed a criminal complaint against Gula and signed the affidavit of probable cause in support of the charges. Krawetz arrested Gula and took her into custody at PSP Hazleton. Gula was charged with the following crimes: Unlawful Use of Computer; Computer Trespass; Criminal Use of Communication Facility; False Report-Falsely Incriminate Another; False Reports-Reported Offense Did Not Occur; Unsworn Falsification to Authorities. (Doc. 81.-7, Doc. 55-1). Additionally, on December 13, 2012, Gula was suspended without pay by Hoke. (Doc. 60 at 50).

         Gula's criminal trial commenced on March 17, 2014. (Doc. 81-12). Prior to jury selection, the ADA withdrew Count 1, Unlawful Use of Computer and Count 3, Computer Trespass. (Doc. 81-13). At the conclusion of the trial, the jury found Gula not guilty of all charges.

         On March 21, 2014, Gula was placed on restricted duty by Lieutenant Daniel J. Gentile, Jr. pending the outcome of the internal affairs investigation into her alleged false reports. Lt. Col. George Bivens approved Gula's court martial on September 30, 2014, and she was again suspended without pay.

         Subsequently, Gula successfully pursued a claim against the PSP through arbitration and, she was restored to her position as a trooper with the PSP.

         The following facts are also material regarding Gula's PHRA claims against Brogan, Krawetz and O'Hara. Brogan has never had supervisory authority over Gula. (Doc. 37-1, Brogan Deck, ¶3). Additionally, neither Krawetz nor O'Hara have ever held supervisory authority over Gula. (Doc. 37-2, Krawetz Decl., ¶3, Doc. 37-3, O'Hara Decl. ¶3).

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment is appropriate if the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c): see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Turner v. Schering-Plough Corp., 901 F.2d 335. 340 (3d Cir. 1990). A factual dispute is genuine if a reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party, and is material if it will affect the outcome of the trial under governing substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Aetna Casualty & Sur. Co. v. Ericksen, 903 F.Supp. 836, 838 (M.D. Pa. 1995). At the summary judgment stage, "the judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249; see also Marino v. Indus. Crating Co., 358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004) (a court may not weigh the evidence or make credibility determinations). Rather, the court must consider all evidence and inferences drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Andreoii v. Gates, 482 F.3d 641. 647 (3d Cir. 2007).

         To prevail on summary judgment, the moving party must affirmatively identify those portions of the record which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24. The moving party can discharge the burden by showing that "on all the essential elements of its case on which it bears the burden of proof at trial, no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party." In re Bressman, 327 F.3d 229. 238 (3d Cir. 2003); see also Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. If the moving party meets this initial burden, the non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to material facts, " but must show sufficient evidence to support a jury verdict in its favor. Boyle v. County of Allegheny, 139 F.3d 386. 393 (3d Cir. 1998) (quoting Matsushita Bee. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574. 586 (1986)). However, if the non-moving party "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to [the non-movant's] case, and on which [the non-movant] will bear the burden of proof at trial, " Rule 56 mandates the entry of summary judgment because such a failure "necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-23; Jakimas v. Hoffman La Roche, Inc., 485 F.3d 770. 777 (3d Cir. 2007).

         "The motion for summary judgment requires Plaintiff to present evidence that there does exist a genuine issue of material fact, and Plaintiff may not rely solely on the pleadings." Isajewicz v. Bucks County Dept Of Communications, 851 F.Supp. 161. 165 (E.D.Pa. 1994) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Defendants Brogan, Krawetz and O'Hara[4] move for partial summary judgment with respect to Counts IV, VI and VIII of Gula's amended complaint, namely, her PHRA claims against the stated defendants individually. They argue that they are entitfed to summary judgment on Gula's PHRA claims because they did not have supervisory authority over her.

         Gula argues that she has made out aiding and abetting claims against the defendants under the PHRA. She contends that it is disputed whether the defendants had supervisory authority over her and, that disputed material facts exist as to whether the ...


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