Quiroga v. Hasbro, Inc., Nos. 90-5284

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore HUTCHINSON, NYGAARD and ROSENN; NYGAARD
Citation934 F.2d 497
Parties57 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 1320, 56 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 40,845, 20 Fed.R.Serv.3d 632, 7 Indiv.Empl.Rts.Cas. 1736 Alvaro QUIROGA, Appellant, v. HASBRO, INC. and Playskool Baby, Inc. . Submitted Under Third Circuit Rule 12(6) On
Decision Date31 May 1991
Docket NumberNos. 90-5284,90-5748

Page 497

934 F.2d 497
57 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 1320,
56 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 40,845, 20 Fed.R.Serv.3d 632,
7 Indiv.Empl.Rts.Cas. 1736
Alvaro QUIROGA, Appellant,
v.
HASBRO, INC. and Playskool Baby, Inc.
Nos. 90-5284, 90-5748.
United States Court of Appeals,
Third Circuit.
Submitted Under Third Circuit Rule 12(6)
On May 31, 1991.
Decided June 11, 1991.
Rehearing and Rehearing In Banc
Denied July 5, 1991.

Page 499

Stephen R. Mills, Livingston, N.J., for appellant.

James M. Paulson, Morgan, Brown & Joy, Boston, Mass., for appellees.

Before HUTCHINSON, NYGAARD and ROSENN, Circuit Judges.

OPINION OF THE COURT

NYGAARD, Circuit Judge.

In the case underlying these consolidated appeals, Alvaro Quiroga instituted an action against Hasbro and its subsidiary, Playskool Baby, Inc. (collectively,

"Hasbro") alleging violations of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. Secs. 2000e-2000e-17, the Age Discrimination In Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. Secs. 621-634, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("NJLAD"), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1, et seq., and state claims for breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Just before trial, the district court granted summary judgment for defendants on all but the Title VII and comparable NJLAD claims. These remaining claims alleged Quiroga, a vice-president of Hasbro, was wrongfully denied stock options in 1988, and was discharged in retaliation for asserting his rights to those options. Following trial, the district court entered judgment in favor of Hasbro. Upon post-trial motion by Hasbro, the district court also ordered Quiroga to pay Hasbro's attorneys' fees in the amount of $10,000 under Section 706(k) of Title VII. 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e-5(k).

Quiroga claims in appeal No. 90-5284 that the district court's trial findings are clearly erroneous and that the district court ignored issues of material fact in its summary judgment. In appeal No. 90-5748, Quiroga claims the district court abused its discretion by awarding Hasbro attorneys fees. We will affirm the district court's orders appealed in No. 90-5284, and for the reasons following we will remand on appeal No. 90-5748. The case is quite simple and ordinarily we would not write, but it is necessary here to explain our decision on appellant's challenge to the district court's attorney fee award.

I.

APPEAL NO. 90-5284

A. SUMMARY JUDGMENT.

The district court summarily dismissed many of Quiroga's claims, including the claim that Hasbro's Personnel Policies Manual ("manual") gave Quiroga contractual rights that Hasbro violated when it discharged him. Quiroga challenges only that portion of the summary judgment. He contends that whether the manual applies to him is an unresolved, material question of fact precluding summary judgment, and that the district court misapplied New Jersey law regarding contractual rights created by the manual when it dismissed his claim for breach of contract.

Page 500

Our review of a summary judgment is plenary.

Quiroga's contentions are without support in the record because it does not show that the manual applied to Quiroga as vice-president and plant manager. The affidavit of William Daly, Hasbro's vice president in charge of industrial relations, states that the guide is intended for use by supervisors and managers to assist them in managing personnel matters of the rank and file employees and does not create rights for supervisors or managers. Daly also stated that unless a specific written employment contract is in place, managers are employed at will. There is nothing in the record to dispute that evidence.

Daly's affidavit carried Hasbro's burden under Rule of Civil Procedure 56 because, in response to Daly's affidavit, Quiroga says only that he was not informed the manual did not apply to him. This does not create a dispute of fact. Quiroga must "do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). Quiroga must set forth specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial and may not rest upon mere allegations, general denials, or such vague statements that he was never informed that the manual did not apply to him. He must offer some evidence that the manual does indeed apply to him. Soundship Building Company v. Bethlehem Steel, 533 F.2d 96, 99 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 860, 97 S.Ct. 161, 50 L.Ed.2d 137 (1976). Quiroga has simply offered no such evidence. Since Quiroga has not shown that the manual applies to him, we need not consider his contention that the district court misapplied New Jersey contract law. We hold that Quiroga's objection to the summary judgment is without merit.

B. TRIAL FACTS.

Following a bench trial on the remaining claims the district court found the following facts which are germane to its decision and our review. Quiroga was a valued employee of Hasbro and its corporate predecessors from 1974 until he parted company with them in May, 1988. As vice president of operations in Hasbro's Wayne, New Jersey plant, Quiroga was second-highest ranking employee in New Jersey.

Quiroga received a stock option award in 1986. In 1987 he committed the Wayne plant to production far beyond the company's manufacturing plan. Because of the overproduction, Hasbro sustained losses and seriously considered closing the plant. It did not close the plant, but as a consequence of overproduction, management did not recommend Quiroga for a stock option award for 1987. When in early 1988 Quiroga learned he would not receive the award, he complained to his superiors. Because Hasbro considered Quiroga to be a key person, management reconsidered and added Quiroga's name to the list of those recommended for stock options.

During 1987 there were rumblings between Quiroga and Hasbro's management. Quiroga found himself in disagreement with management decisions. He was disappointed with their decision not to relocate the New Jersey plant to South Carolina, where Quiroga was to have been plant manager. Quiroga viewed Hasbro's decision to scuttle the relocation as a failure to promote him. He was affronted by Hasbro's relocation of his responsibilities to others. He also incorrectly believed he was to be denied a stock option award, and so early in 1988, he hired an attorney. What happened thereafter cost Quiroga his stock options and his job.

Quiroga's attorney, Stephen R. Mills, wrote a letter to Hasbro that the district court found to be "heavy handed" and "extraordinary and outlandish." Attorney Mills claimed that Quiroga had been "constructively discharged" and suggested a meeting to explore "specific proposals for an outplacement arrangement" for Quiroga and "a possible settlement of Mr. Quiroga's claims." App. 401. The district court found the letter to be Quiroga's announcement that he was "depart[ing] from the company." App. 402.

Page 501

Nevertheless, and in spite of Attorney Mills' letter, "Hasbro was anxious to retain [Quiroga] in its employ as he was still considered to be an important executive." App. 402. Quiroga, Mills and representatives of Hasbro all met in response to Attorney Mills' letter. At the meeting, Mills stated Hasbro had breached its "trust bridge" with plaintiff. App. 403. Mills issued a seven-point ultimatum to Hasbro:

1. Quiroga would remain at the plant during the "transition" period.

2. Quiroga's package would be $112,000, excluding the company automobile.

3. Quiroga would agree to a release, waiving any claims against Hasbro.

4. Quiroga would seek 3-1/2 years of salary and benefits, totalling $392,000 plus $50,000 in lost options. No attorney's fees would be sought.

5. Quiroga would act as a consultant at half his annual salary, if desired by Hasbro.

6. Hasbro would continue Quiroga's health, dental and life insurance benefits for 18 months.

7. Quiroga would make a statement to all employees.

App. 403-404, 607.

Because of the brash ultimatum issued by his attorney, Quiroga's name was removed from the list of those to receive stock options, which were reserved to reward and encourage employees to stay with the company. Hasbro further informed Quiroga that it accepted his "wishes to resign." App. 405.

C. RETALIATORY DISCHARGE.

Quiroga contends that Hasbro's actions amounted to a retaliatory discharge. In order to recover on his retaliatory discharge claims, Quiroga must show, (1) he engaged in a protected activity; (2) he was discharged after or contemporaneous with the activity; and (3) a causal link existed between the protected activity and threats to sue, and the loss of his job. Jalil v. Avdel Corp., 873 F.2d 701, 708 (3d Cir.1989), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 110 S.Ct. 725, 107 L.Ed.2d 745 (1990).

If a retaliatory discharge plaintiff makes a prima facie showing of all three Jalil factors, then the burden "shifts to the defendant 'to articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its conduct.' " Texas Department of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 253, 101 S.Ct. 1089, 1093, 67 L.Ed.2d 207 (1981) (citation omitted).

The district court found that Quiroga utterly failed to establish the third Jalil factor, namely causation, and therefor concluded it was unnecessary for the court to reach the second Jalil factor, that is whether Quiroga was in fact discharged by Hasbro. Quiroga challenges this conclusion. His argument is essentially that "the timing [of his discharge] would raise an inference of retaliation." (Appellant's Brief at 21) As a matter of fact it cannot. In Jalil the employee was discharged two days after filing his Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") complaint. While we held there that the "timing of the discharge in relation to Jalil's EEOC complaint may suggest discriminatory motives," Jalil, 873 F.2d at 709, we stopped short of creating an inference based upon timing alone.

The district court specifically found that Hasbro's decision to...

To continue reading

Request your trial
549 practice notes
  • Ortho-Mcneil Pharmaceutical v. Kali Laboratories, Civil Action No. 02-5707 (JCL).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • April 5, 2007
    ...Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 Page 489 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Quiroga v. Hasbro, Inc., 934 F.2d 497, 500 (3d Cir.1991) (noting that a motion for summary judgment is not defeated by mere allegations, general denials, or other "vague statements"). ......
  • Saylor v. Ridge, CIVIL ACTION NO. 97-CV-1445 (E.D. Pa. 1/__/1998), CIVIL ACTION NO. 97-CV-1445.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • January 1, 1998
    ...employer's adverse action. Krouse, supra, at 500; Woodson v. Scott Paper Co., 109 F.3d 913, 920 (3rd Cir. 1997); Quiroga v. Hasbro, Inc., 934 F.2d 497, 501 (3rd Cir. 1991); Jalil v. Avdel Corp., 873 F.2d 701, 708 (3rd Cir. 1989). To establish a violation of the Rehabilitation Act in this Ci......
  • U.S. v. Klimek, No. 95-5971.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • January 24, 1997
    ...showing a genuine issue for trial and may not rest upon mere allegations, general denials, or vague statements." Quiroga v. Hasbro, Inc. 934 F.2d 497, 500 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 940, 112 S.Ct. 376, 116 L.Ed.2d 327 (1991). Whether a fact is material is determined by substantive la......
  • Gov't Emps. Ins. Co. v. Nealey, CIVIL ACTION NO. 17–807
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • June 13, 2017
    ...to sanction a party or attorney who has acted in "bad faith, vexatiously, wantonly, or for oppressive reasons." Quiroga v. Hasbro, Inc., 934 F.2d 497, 504–05 (3d Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 940, 112 S.Ct. 376, 116 L.Ed.2d 327 (1991). This inherent authority includes "the ability to f......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
549 cases
  • Ortho-Mcneil Pharmaceutical v. Kali Laboratories, Civil Action No. 02-5707 (JCL).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • April 5, 2007
    ...Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 Page 489 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Quiroga v. Hasbro, Inc., 934 F.2d 497, 500 (3d Cir.1991) (noting that a motion for summary judgment is not defeated by mere allegations, general denials, or other "vague statements"). ......
  • Saylor v. Ridge, CIVIL ACTION NO. 97-CV-1445 (E.D. Pa. 1/__/1998), CIVIL ACTION NO. 97-CV-1445.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • January 1, 1998
    ...employer's adverse action. Krouse, supra, at 500; Woodson v. Scott Paper Co., 109 F.3d 913, 920 (3rd Cir. 1997); Quiroga v. Hasbro, Inc., 934 F.2d 497, 501 (3rd Cir. 1991); Jalil v. Avdel Corp., 873 F.2d 701, 708 (3rd Cir. 1989). To establish a violation of the Rehabilitation Act in this Ci......
  • U.S. v. Klimek, No. 95-5971.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • January 24, 1997
    ...showing a genuine issue for trial and may not rest upon mere allegations, general denials, or vague statements." Quiroga v. Hasbro, Inc. 934 F.2d 497, 500 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 940, 112 S.Ct. 376, 116 L.Ed.2d 327 (1991). Whether a fact is material is determined by substantive la......
  • Gov't Emps. Ins. Co. v. Nealey, CIVIL ACTION NO. 17–807
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • June 13, 2017
    ...to sanction a party or attorney who has acted in "bad faith, vexatiously, wantonly, or for oppressive reasons." Quiroga v. Hasbro, Inc., 934 F.2d 497, 504–05 (3d Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 940, 112 S.Ct. 376, 116 L.Ed.2d 327 (1991). This inherent authority includes "the ability to f......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT