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Navarro v. Hotel Belvidere, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

September 16, 2019

FRANK NAVARRO, Plaintiff,
v.
HOTEL BELVIDERE, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ROBERT D. MARIANI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction and Procedural History

         On November 9, 2017, Plaintiff Frank A. Navarro filed a Complaint against Defendants Hotel Belvidere, LLC and The Ridge. (Doc. 1). Plaintiffs Complaint contained four counts: Count I - retaliation in violation of the Family Medical Leave Act; Count II -failure to engage in the interactive process and wrongful termination in violation of Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"); Count III - failure to engage in the interactive process and wrongful termination in violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"); and Count IV - detrimental reliance. On December 29, 2017, Navarro filed an Amended Complaint (Doc. 7), which contained two counts: Count I - failure to engage in the interactive process and wrongful termination in violation of the ADA; and Count II -detrimental reliance.[1]

         Following the completion of fact discovery, on November 30, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 19). In their supporting brief, Defendants assert that Navarro's ADA claim should be dismissed as a matter of law because Plaintiffs claim does not have "sufficient jurisdictional basis" under the ADA. (Doc. 20, at 3). Further, Defendants assert that they are entitled to summary judgment on Navarro's detrimental reliance claim because Navarro is an at-will employee. (Id. at 5).

         Navarro, in his "Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment," contends that summary judgment should be denied because there is an outstanding dispute of material fact as to whether Defendants properly calculated the fifteen-employee threshold. (Doc. 22, at 6-9). Further, Navarro contends that summary judgment should be denied as to the detrimental reliance claim because, even though he was an at-will employee, a "verbal contract" was created between him and Defendants, on which he detrimentally relied. (Id. at 15-16).

         Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 19). The parties have fully briefed the motion, and it is ripe for decision. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the Motion with respect to Plaintiffs detrimental reliance claim and deny the Motion with respect to the ADA claim.

         II. Statement of Undisputed Facts

         The only material fact not disputed by either party is that Navarro was hired as an at-will employee, without a contract, and all of Defendants' employees were at-will employees. (Doc. 21, ¶ 5; Doc. 22-4, ¶ 5).

         Defendants submit that the total number of employees for any particular calendar week exceeds fourteen employees for, at most, fifteen weeks in 2016 according to its count of employees and payment/salary records of 2016. (Doc. 21, ¶ 3). Navarro, however, disputes the way in which Defendants calculated its number of employees. (Doc. 22-4, ¶ 3).

         Defendants also submit that they did not have fifteen employees for each working day for twenty or more weeks during the year of 2016. (Doc. 21, ¶ 4). However, Navarro contends that Defendants did have fifteen employees, based on Defendants' tax filings, and Defendants have not shown any other "daily logs, timesheets or schedules to support" Defendants' contention that they do not meet the fifteen-employee threshold. (Doc. 22-4, at ¶4).

         III. Standard of Review

         Through summary adjudication, the court may dispose of those claims that do not present a "genuine dispute as to any material fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "As to materiality, ... [o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue as to any material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once such a showing has been made, the non-moving party must offer specific facts contradicting those averred by the movant to establish a genuine issue of material fact. Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990). Therefore, the non-moving party may not oppose summary judgment simply on the basis of the pleadings, or on conclusory statements that a factual issue exists. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. "A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by citing to particular parts of materials in the record ... or showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A)-(B). In evaluating whether summary judgment should be granted, "[t]he court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3). "Inferences should be drawn in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and where the non-moving party's evidence contradicts the movant's, then the non-movant's must be taken as true." Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am., Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992), cert, denied 507 U.S. 912 (1993).

         However, "facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a 'genuine' dispute as to those facts." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). If a party has ...


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