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Putnam v. Temple University Health System

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

March 26, 2018

SAMUEL G. PUTNAM, Plaintiff,


          ROBERT F. KELLY, Sr. J.

         Defendant Temple University Health System (“Temple”) had four openings for interventional radiologists in early 2013. Plaintiff Samuel G. Putnam (“Dr. Putnam”), who was fifty-three years old at the time, was not hired for one of the positions, and he subsequently brought suit against Temple for age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634, and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”), 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. §§ 951-963.

         Dr. Putnam voluntarily withdrew his PHRA claim. (See Doc. No. 26.) Temple now moves for summary judgment on the ADEA claim, contending that it had a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for failing to hire Dr. Putnam as an interventional radiologist. For the reasons noted below, Temple's Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual History

         Dr. Putnam previously worked for Temple as an interventional radiologist from 1996 to 1999 and July 2000 to February 2001.[1] (Def.'s Mem. of Law Support Mot. Summ. J. 2.) During the latter timeframe he reported to Dr. Gary Cohen (“Dr. Cohen”), who was Temple's Section Chief of Interventional Radiology. (Id.) Dr. Putnam resigned from Temple in February 2001 to join Fornance Physician Services (“Fornance”), an organization through which he provided interventional radiology services to various hospitals that contracted with Fornance. (Id.)

         In 2012, Temple acquired the American Oncologic Hospital (d/b/a The Hospital of the Fox Chase Cancer Center (“Fox Chase”)), to which Fornance had been providing interventional radiology services at the time. (Id. at 2-3.) Following the acquisition of Fox Chase, Temple determined that it would staff Fox Chase with its own interventional radiologists, rather than subcontract those services to a provider such as Fornance. (Id. at 3.) As a result of the acquisition and work volume, Temple decided it would need to hire two interventional radiologists and subsequently started the recruitment process. (Id.) During the process two interventional radiologists resigned, resulting in four positions needing to be filled. (Id.) Dr. Putnam did not apply for any of the positions or reach out to anyone at Temple because he was still hopeful that Fornance would continue providing services at Fox Chase. (Id., Ex. A at 81.)

         Temple actively recruited and interviewed interventional radiologist candidates throughout the fall of 2012. (Id. at 3.) Between September and December 2012, Temple conducted initial interviews with Drs. Mark Burshteyn, David Pryluck, Joseph Panaro, and Emily Cuthbertson. (Id.)

         In January 2013, Dr. Putnam contacted Dr. Cohen and asked to meet to discuss potential employment with Temple. (Id. at 4.) The two met at a Starbucks on January 19, 2013, during which Dr. Putnam explained his employment situation at Fornance. (Id.) Although Dr. Cohen left the meeting believing that Dr. Putnam was not interested in working at Temple, Dr. Putnam shortly after sent his cover letter and his curriculum vitae (“CV”) to Dr. Charles Jungreis, Temple's Chairman of the Radiology Department. (Id.) Despite submitting his materials, however, Dr. Putnam was unable to work for Temple because he was subject to a restriction between Fornance and Fox Chase. (Id.) The restriction between the two entities was such that Fox Chase (by this time owned by Temple) could not directly hire any physician for a period of one year following the termination of the physician's employment with Fornance. (Id. at 4-5.)

         On March 19, 2013, Fornance notified Dr. Putnam that his employment would be terminated effective July 17, 2013. (Id. at 5.) By letter dated March 25, 2013, Fornance advised Fox Chase that it was waiving its rights on a limited basis and would allow Fox Chase to solicit, recruit, or hire Dr. Putnam. (Id.) Dr. Putnam was similarly notified by letter dated March 27, 2013 that Fornance was waiving its rights and that Fox Chase could recruit and hire him. (Id.)

         Dr. Putnam contacted Dr. Jungreis regarding employment at Temple after receiving notification about Fornance waiving its rights. (Id.) However, by that time Temple had already extended employment offers to Drs. Burshteyn, Pryluck, Panaro, and Cuthbertson. (Id.) Nevertheless, Temple offered to interview Dr. Putnam in the event there was a future opening, which he declined. (Id.)

         B. Procedural History

         On February 16, 2017, Dr. Putnam filed a two-count Complaint against Temple under the ADEA (Count I) and PHRA (Count II). (See Compl.) Dr. Putnam alleged that Temple discriminated against him on the basis of his age in failing to hire him because Drs. Burshteyn, Pryluck, Panaro, and Cuthbertson were all younger candidates who were hired. (Id. ¶¶ 15-17.) Dr. Putnam withdrew his PHRA claim on January 17, 2018. (See Doc. No. 26.) Temple moves for summary judgment on the ADEA claim because it had a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for not hiring Dr. Putnam because there were no open interventional radiologist positions at the time of his March 2013 application.

         II. ...

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