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Dennis Corbisiero v. Leica Microsystems

September 1, 2011

DENNIS CORBISIERO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LEICA MICROSYSTEMS, INC. AND DAVID BEAULIEU,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chesler, U.S.D.J.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION & ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on two motions for summary judgment, pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 56: 1) the motion by Defendants Leica Microsystems, Inc. ("Leica") and David Beaulieu ("Beaulieu") (collectively, "Defendants"); and 2) the motion by Plaintiff Dennis Corbisiero. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion will be denied, and Plaintiff's motion will be granted.

BACKGROUND

This case arises out of some employment disputes. The following facts are undisputed. Plaintiff Dennis Corbisiero was first employed by Leica in 1972, and last worked as an Area Sales Director. Leica terminated Plaintiff's employment on December 11, 2008; Plaintiff was approximately 64 years old at that time. During the relevant time period, Defendant David Beaulieu served as Leica's Vice President of the Surgical Division, in which Plaintiff worked.

On March 4, 2009, Plaintiff filed the Complaint in this action, subsequently amended.

The Amended Complaint asserts two claims: 1) employment age discrimination in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("NJLAD"); 2) retaliation for protected conduct in violation of the NJLAD. Defendants answered and asserted two counterclaims: 1) conversion; and 2) misappropriation of trade secrets. Plaintiff and Defendants have moved for summary judgment.

LEGAL STANDARD

I. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate under FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a) when the moving party demonstrates that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the evidence establishes the moving party's entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). A factual dispute is genuine if a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-movant, and it is material if, under the substantive law, it would affect the outcome of the suit. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). "In considering a motion for summary judgment, a district court may not make credibility determinations or engage in any weighing of the evidence; instead, the non-moving party's evidence 'is to be believed and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.'" Marino v. Indus. Crating Co., 358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).

"When the moving party has the burden of proof at trial, that party must show affirmatively the absence of a genuine issue of material fact: it must show that, on all the essential elements of its case on which it bears the burden of proof at trial, no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party." In re Bressman, 327 F.3d 229, 238 (3d Cir. 2003) (quoting United States v. Four Parcels of Real Property, 941 F.2d 1428, 1438 (11th Cir. 1991)). "[W]ith respect to an issue on which the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof . . . the burden on the moving party may be discharged by 'showing' -- that is, pointing out to the district court -- that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325.

Once the moving party has satisfied its initial burden, the party opposing the motion must establish that a genuine issue as to a material fact exists. Jersey Cent. Power & Light Co. v. Lacey Township, 772 F.2d 1103, 1109 (3d Cir. 1985). The party opposing the motion for summary judgment cannot rest on mere allegations and instead must present actual evidence that creates a genuine issue as to a material fact for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Siegel Transfer, Inc. v. Carrier Express, Inc., 54 F.3d 1125, 1130-31 (3d Cir. 1995). "[U]nsupported allegations . . . and pleadings are insufficient to repel summary judgment." Schoch v. First Fid. Bancorporation, 912 F.2d 654, 657 (3d Cir. 1990). "A nonmoving party has created a genuine issue of material fact if it has provided sufficient evidence to allow a jury to find in its favor at trial." Gleason v. Norwest Mortg., Inc., 243 F.3d 130, 138 (3d Cir. 2001).

If the nonmoving party has failed "to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial, . . . there can be 'no genuine issue of material fact,' since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts ...


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