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Pigford v. Rapiscan Systems, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 10, 2017

ERIC PIGFORD, Plaintiff,
v.
RAPISCAN SYSTEMS, INC. Defendant.

          OPINION

          JOSEPH H. RODRIGUEZ U.S.D.J.

         Hon. Joseph H. Rodriguez This matter is before the Court on Defendant's motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's One-Count Complaint alleging racial discrimination by Defendant, his former employer. The Court has reviewed the submissions and decides the matter based on the briefs pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b). For the reasons stated here, Defendant's motion will be granted.

         Summary Judgment Standard

         “Summary judgment is proper if there is no genuine issue of material fact and if, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Pearson v. Component Tech. Corp., 247 F.3d 471, 482 n.1 (3d Cir. 2001) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)); accord Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (a). Thus, the Court will enter summary judgment in favor of a movant who shows that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, and supports the showing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . . admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (c)(1)(A).

         An issue is “genuine” if 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 determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must view the facts and all reasonable inferences drawn from those facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

         Initially, the moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party must identify, by affidavits or otherwise, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id.; Maidenbaum v. Bally's Park Place, Inc., 870 F.Supp. 1254, 1258 (D.N.J. 1994). Thus, to withstand a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must identify specific facts and affirmative evidence that contradict those offered by the moving party. Andersen, 477 U.S. at 256-57. “A nonmoving party may not ‘rest upon mere allegations, general denials or . . . vague statements . . . .'” Trap Rock Indus., Inc. v. Local 825, Int'l Union of Operating Eng'rs, 982 F.2d 884, 890 (3d Cir. 1992) (quoting Quiroga v. Hasbro, Inc., 934 F.2d 497, 500 (3d Cir. 1991)). Indeed, the plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates

the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails 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.

Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. That is, the movant can support the assertion that a fact cannot be genuinely disputed by showing that “an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the [alleged dispute of] fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B); accord Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2).

         Factual Background

         Defendant Rapiscan Systems, Inc. develops, manufactures, sells and services security screening and threat detection solutions, including X-ray machines and metal detectors, for aviation, critical infrastructure, customs and border protection, defense, event security, ports and law enforcement markets. (Ohnegan Cert., Ex. A, Pl. D e p . 18:25-19:19.)

         Plaintiff Eric Pigford began working as Rapiscan's Director of Sales North America on January 18, 2010. (Ohnegan Cert., Ex. A, 13:4-14.) Peter Kant, the Vice President of Sales, Americas, hired Plaintiff and supervised him throughout the entire term of Plaintiff's employment with Rapiscan. (Ohnegan Cert., Ex. A, 11:15-12:4; 13:17-24.) Plaintiff was hired to manage a team of sales managers and was responsible for the sales of Rapiscan's products in the commercial markets in North America, including state and local governments, the Canadian federal government and the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. (Ohnegan Cert., Ex. A, 20:22-21:17; 23:14-16.) He was primarily expected to design and implement a sales strategy and work with his sales team to grow sales within his territory. (Ohnegan Cert., Ex. A, 24:2-5; 24:22-25:10.) Plaintiff was responsible for providing periodic reports to upper management related to sales bookings and forecasts. (Ohnegan Cert., Ex A, 27:24-28:3.)

         Plaintiff received a starting annual salary of $142, 000 and was eligible to participate in a bonus program. (Ohnegan Cert., Ex. A, 13:25-14:8.) He participated in the Senior Sales Manager Incentive Plan for fiscal year 2011, which ran from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011. (Ohnegan Cert., Ex. A, 32:22- 33:1, 39:11-17; Ex. B, D00028.) The Senior Sales Manager Incentive Plan served as the compensation plan for: John Atkinson, the Director of Defense Programs; John Kuntz, the Manager of Defense Sales; Stephen McHugh, the Vice President of Defense Programs; Plaintiff, the Director of North American Sales; and Carol Shaltis, the Manager of Metal Detector Business Development. (Ohnegan Cert., Ex. B, D00028; Ex. A, 55:7-57:12.) Atkinson, Kuntz and McHugh, and Shaltis are Caucasian. (Ohnegan Cert., Ex. A, 57:16-58:11.) Plaintiff is African-American. (Ohnegan Cert., Ex. C, ¶2.)

         The Senior Sales Manager Incentive Plan states that participants would receive a base salary in part to compensate them for the various administrative and other activities expected of sales managers. (Ohnegan Cert., Ex. B, D00028.) Plaintiff's Senior Sales Manager Incentive Plan states that Plaintiff would be eligible to receive an Annual Booking Target Bonus of up to twenty-five percent (25%) of his salary if he achieved his sales quota. (Ohnegan Cert., Ex. B, D00029, D00031.) The Senior Sales Manager Incentive Plan states that participants may be eligible to receive a bonus based on achieving certain Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) identified in the participant's annual review. (Ohnegan Cert., Ex. B, D00029.) The Senior Sales Manager Incentive Plan states that the award of a KPI bonus was in Rapiscan's sole discretion. (Ohnegan Cert., Ex. B, D00029.)

         Plaintiff was expected to achieve $24 million in sales to receive the Annual Bonus in fiscal year 2011. (Ohnegan Cert., Ex. B, D00029; Ex. A, 43:16-19.) The Senior Sales Manager Incentive Plan provides that Plaintiff could have received seventy-five percent (75%) of the Annual Bonus if he achieved at least ninety percent (90%) of his sales quota in fiscal year 2011. (Ohnegan Cert., Ex. B, D00029; Ex. A, 43:2-7.) The Senior Sales Manager Incentive Plan provides that Plaintiff could have received up to one hundred twenty-five percent (125%) of the ...


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