418 F.3d 114 (1st Cir. 2005), 04-2582, Cordero-Soto v. Island Finance, Inc.

Docket Nº:04-2582.
Citation:418 F.3d 114
Party Name:Juan CORDERO-SOTO, Plaintiff, Appellant, v. ISLAND FINANCE, INC., Defendant, Appellee.
Case Date:August 12, 2005
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
 
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Page 114

418 F.3d 114 (1st Cir. 2005)

Juan CORDERO-SOTO, Plaintiff, Appellant,

v.

ISLAND FINANCE, INC., Defendant, Appellee.

No. 04-2582.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit.

August 12, 2005

Heard June 10, 2005.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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John Ward-Llambias for appellant.

Francisco M. Ramirez-Rivera, with whom Amelia Fortuno-Ruiz and Martinez, Odell & Calabria were on brief, for appellee.

Before Torruella, Lipez, and Howard, Circuit Judges.

LIPEZ, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff-appellant Juan Cordero-Soto appeals the grant of summary judgment dismissing his claims against Defendant-appellee Island Finance, Inc. under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C §§ 621-634 ("ADEA"). We affirm.

I.

Cordero was forty-nine and on sick leave when he was terminated on October 27, 2000 from his position as a Branch Manager of Island Finance, a loan company for which he had worked in differing capacities for more than 25 years. On May 15, 2002, Cordero filed suit in federal court, alleging that Island Finance had terminated his employment because of his age in violation of the ADEA. Cordero also brought claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Puerto Rico law.

On January 26, 2004, Island Finance moved for summary judgment on Cordero's ADEA claims, as well as dismissal of his claims under § 1983 and Puerto Rico law. In its motion for summary judgment, Island Finance argued that Cordero was ineligible for back pay, front pay, or reinstatement for any ADEA violation as a matter of law because the Social Security Administration had designated him disabled as of September 15, 2000, the date he went on sick leave, and because Cordero continued to receive Social Security Disability Insurance ("SSDI") benefits. Island Finance also argued that Cordero could not recover liquidated damages, which are available only for willful violations of the ADEA. 29 U.S.C. § 626(b); see Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Thurston, 469 U.S. 111, 125 (1985) (explaining that statutory provision "which makes the award of liquidated damages mandatory" under the Fair Labor Standards Act "is significantly qualified" in its application to the ADEA "by a proviso that a prevailing plaintiff is entitled to double damages 'only in cases of willful violations.'" (quoting 29 U.S.C. § 626 (b))) .

The district court issued an opinion and order on September 30, 2004 granting Island Finance's motion for summary judgment on Cordero's ADEA claims, granting its motion to dismiss Cordero's § 1983 claims, and declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Cordero's claims under Puerto Rico law. See Cordero Soto v. Island Fin., Inc., 338 F.Supp.2d 299 (D.P.R. 2004).

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The court first explained that, as a result of Cordero's "repeated lack of compliance with the deadlines to oppose both motions, this Court denied plaintiff's final request for an extension of time. Therefore, both motions are unopposed." Id. at 300. However, the court later "ordered the parties to file supplemental briefs on the issue of Island Finance's reasons for terminating Cordero, and Cordero did file an opposition to Island Finance's brief," including seventeen attached exhibits. Id. at 301. "Of those exhibits, seven (7) were submitted in the Spanish language without a certified English translation." Id. Because Cordero "did not ask for leave to file said exhibits in Spanish while he obtained the necessary translations" or "subsequently present any translations," the court excluded the Spanish-language exhibits from consideration. Id.

Turning to the merits of Island Finance's motion for summary judgment, the court concluded that because "Cordero continues to receive benefits for a disability that prevents him from being gainfully employed, and has not submitted evidence that he would be able to go back to work," he was ineligible as a matter of law for back pay, front pay, or reinstatement for any ADEA violation. Id. at 302. The court also concluded that Cordero could not recover liquidated damages for a willful ADEA violation. Id. Cordero filed a timely notice of appeal from the court's grant of summary judgment on his ADEA claim, challenging (1) the court's denial of Cordero's motion for an extension of time and its exclusion of the Spanish-language exhibits, and (2) its decision on the...

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