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Jamie Vargas v. Piramal Glass Ltd.

June 27, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge


This matter has come before the Court on defendants' motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's claims that defendants violated his rights under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. Plaintiff contends he was terminated from employment due to his age. For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion will be granted.


Plaintiff, Jamie Vargas, began working for defendant Piramal Glass's predecessor, The Glass Group, in Mays Landing, New Jersey in 1978, and he continued his employment with defendant when it purchased the Mays Landing facility in 2005. Plaintiff started as a utility worker, and eventually became a machine operator. By late 2008, economic conditions required defendant to implement a reduction in force (RIF) at the Mays Landing facility. On May 15, 2009, thirty employees were laid-off, including plaintiff.

The month before, however, three positions became available at defendant's Williamstown, New Jersey facility. One of those positions was a setup mechanic, which was a job similar to the machine operator position at the Mays Landing facility. The other two positions were in the maintenance department. Plaintiff and three other machine operators were considered for the one setup mechanic position in Williamstown. Defendants James Moore, Vice-Present of Supply Chain and Decorating Operations, and Dean Harding, the human resources manager, met with three key managers at the Mays Landing facility to determine whom to hire for those three positions in Williamstown. Migdael Molina, who was 39 years old, was awarded the setup mechanic position. Two other employees, aged 54 and 56, were offered the maintenance department jobs.

Plaintiff, who was 51 years old at the time of the layoff, claims that defendants discriminated against him because of his age, and violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination*fn1 , when they did not hire him for the setup mechanic position and was ultimately terminated from employment due to the RIF. Defendants have moved for summary judgment in their favor, arguing that plaintiff has failed to support his claim. Plaintiff has opposed defendants' motion.*fn2


I. Jurisdiction

When defendant removed plaintiff's complaint to this Court, the complaint contained both federal and state claims. As a result, this Court had jurisdiction over plaintiff's federal claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a), which provides in relevant part, "[I]n any civil action of which the district courts have original jurisdiction, the district courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution."

As noted above, in her opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment, plaintiff did not oppose the entry of judgment in defendant's favor on his federal claim. Even though the Court "may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction" when the court "has dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction,"

28 U.S.C. § 1367(c), the Court has chosen to continue exercising its supplemental jurisdiction to resolve the remaining state law claim. At this stage in the case, where there has been a full period of discovery and a fully briefed summary judgment motion pending, and where the state law claim is part of the same case and controversy as the now-dismissed federal claim, judicial economy, convenience and fairness to the litigants weigh in favor of maintaining supplemental jurisdiction in this case. See Kach v. Hose, 589 F.3d 626, 650 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726-27 (1966) (other citations omitted)) (explaining that the "decision to retain or decline jurisdiction over state-law claims is discretionary," but that "discretion, however, is not unbridled," and it "should be based on considerations of 'judicial economy, convenience and fairness to the litigants'"); see also Borough of West Mifflin v. Lancaster, 45 F.3d 780, 788 (3d Cir. 1995) ("[W]here the claim over which the district court has original jurisdiction is dismissed before trial, the district court must decline to decide the pendent state claims unless considerations of judicial economy, convenience, and fairness to the parties provide an affirmative justification for doing so.").*fn3

II. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate where the Court is satisfied that "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, 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." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).

An issue is "genuine" if it is supported by evidence such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is "material" if, under the governing substantive law, a dispute about the fact might affect the outcome of the suit. Id. 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 ...

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