621 F.Supp.2d 230 (M.D.Pa. 2007), C. A. 1:05-CV-0944, Erdman v. Nationwide Ins. Co.

Docket Nº:Civil Action 1:05-CV-0944.
Citation:621 F.Supp.2d 230
Opinion Judge:CHRISTOPHER C. CONNER, District Judge.
Party Name:Brenda L. ERDMAN, Plaintiff v. NATIONWIDE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.
Attorney:Patricia C. Zucker, Daley Zucker Meilton Miner & Gingrich, LLC, Wormleysburg, PA, for Plaintiff. Donald R. Keller, Vladimir P. Belo, Bricker & Eckler, LLP, Columbus, OH, Joanne E. Kinzel, Jacobs & Associates, Camp Hill, PA, for Defendant.
Case Date:August 22, 2007
Court:United States District Courts, 3th Circuit, Middle District of Pennsylvania
 
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621 F.Supp.2d 230 (M.D.Pa. 2007)

Brenda L. ERDMAN, Plaintiff

v.

NATIONWIDE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

Civil Action No. 1:05-CV-0944.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania.

August 22, 2007

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Patricia C. Zucker, Daley Zucker Meilton Miner & Gingrich, LLC, Wormleysburg, PA, for Plaintiff.

Donald R. Keller, Vladimir P. Belo, Bricker & Eckler, LLP, Columbus, OH, Joanne E. Kinzel, Jacobs & Associates, Camp Hill, PA, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM

CHRISTOPHER C. CONNER, District Judge.

Presently before the court is a motion by defendant Nationwide Insurance Company ("Nationwide") for partial reconsideration of a memorandum and order denying summary judgment in its favor on two of the claims asserted by plaintiff Brenda L. Erdman ("Erdman"). See Erdman v. Nationwide Ins. Co., 510 F.Supp.2d 363 (M.D.Pa.2007). Nationwide contends that three aspects of the court's memorandum should be reconsidered: (1) the court's conclusion that Erdman proffered sufficient evidence to support a claim of association discrimination pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § § 12101-12213, (2) the court's ruling that Erdman's amended complaint sufficiently pled a claim of retaliation pursuant to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), PA. STAT. ANN. tit. 43, § § 951-963, and (3) the court's finding that Erdman's request for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") was a " protected activity" that could support a claim of retaliation pursuant to the PHRA.

The parties have fully briefed the issues, and the court heard oral argument on August 9, 2007. The motion is now ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the court will grant Nationwide's motion in part.

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I.

Summary of Facts 1

The dispute in the instant case centers around Nationwide's decision to terminate Erdman's employment. While Erdman was employed at Nationwide, she gave birth to a disabled daughter. (Doc. 15 ¶ 7; Doc. 18 ¶ 8.) Erdman was twice granted modifications to her work schedule " due to the needs of her disabled child." (Doc. 15 ¶ ¶ 8-9; Doc. 18 ¶ ¶ 9-10.) Then, on March 12, 2003, Erdman's supervisors informed her that Nationwide was revoking her modified work schedule and that her job would be eliminated unless she agreed to accept a full-time position. (Doc. 15 ¶ 13; Doc. 18 ¶ 14.) Erdman accepted the full-time position, but " sought confirmation that she would be able to use her previously scheduled vacation in August 2003, to care [for] and supervise her 10-year-old daughter." (Doc. 44 ¶ ¶ 7, 10; Doc. 60 ¶ ¶ 7, 10.) One of Erdman's supervisors informed her that it was " unlikely" that Nationwide would permit her to take the requested vacation. (Doc. 44 ¶ 8; Doc. 60 ¶ 8.) Erdman responded that she would seek leave under the FMLA if her previous vacation request was not approved. (Doc. 44 ¶ 9; Doc. 60 ¶ 9.) To solidify her request for leave, Erdman submitted FMLA paperwork to Nationwide on April 22, 2003, seeking a period of leave that was to commence on July 7, 2003. (Doc. 15 ¶ 14; Doc. 18 ¶ 15; Doc. 44 ¶ 30; Doc. 60 ¶ 30.) On May 6, 2003, Erdman requested Nationwide's decision regarding her FMLA leave by May 9, 2003. (Doc. 15 ¶ 15; Doc. 18 ¶ 16.)

Nationwide terminated Erdman's employment on May 9, 2003. (Doc. 15 ¶ 16; Doc. 18 ¶ 17.) Nationwide contends that Erdman's employment was terminated because she engaged in " multiple incidents of inappropriate workplace behavior." (Doc. 43 at 6.) Erdman denies these allegations and counters that her termination was the culmination of " a focused and insidious campaign by her supervisor and other Nationwide managers ... to develop pre-textual bases upon which to fire her to prevent her from taking FMLA leave." (Doc. 61 at 6; Doc. 60 ¶ ¶ 11, 23, 26.) Erdman commenced the instant action, asserting claims pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. § § 2601-2654, the ADA, and the PHRA, as well as a claim of breach of an employment contract. Only Erdman's ADA and PHRA claims remain.

II. Standard of Review

Motions for reconsideration under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) serve primarily to correct analytical errors in a prior decision of the court. See FED. R. CIV. P. 59(e); United States v. Fiorelli, 337 F.3d 282, 287-88 (3d Cir.2003). They may not be used as a device for introducing new evidence or claims not previously presented. See id. Such motions require the court to reconstruct the record as it existed at the time of the prior decision to determine whether the court committed an error of law material to the ruling. Id.; see also Smith v. Evans, 853 F.2d 155, 158-59 (3d Cir.1988).

It follows from this remedial purpose that the standard of review for a motion for reconsideration relates back to the standard applicable in the underlying decision. Fiorelli, 337 F.3d at 287-88; Pittsburgh Terminal Corp. v. Balt. & Ohio R.R., 824 F.2d 249, 253 (3d Cir.1987). When a reconsideration motion challenges the court's decision to grant or deny summary judgment, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 controls the analysis. Relief

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may be granted if the materials presented in support of and in opposition to the summary judgment motion-including the pleadings, discovery materials, and affidavits-" show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); see also Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 231-32 (3d Cir.2001). The court should not weigh conflicting evidence or make factual findings but, rather, should " consider all evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party" to determine whether " the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party."...

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