CHIRDO v. MINERALS TECHNOLOGIES, INC. et al
MEMORANDUM AND/OR OPINION. SIGNED BY HONORABLE LAWRENCE F. STENGEL ON 4/22/2009. 4/23/2009 ENTERED AND COPIES E-MAILED.(ap, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA JAMES CHIRDO, Plaintiff v. MINERALS TECHNOLOGIES, INC., and, SPECIALTY MINERALS, INC., Defendants : : : : : : : : : CIVIL ACTION
MEMORANDUM S T E N G E L , J. A p r il 22, 2009
J a m e s Chirdo claims his employment was unlawfully terminated by defendants. He intends to introduce at trial a statement by the CEO of the defendant corporations, P a u l Saueracker, which shows an intent to discriminate on the basis of age. For the f o llo w in g reasons, I will deny defendants' motion to exclude Mr. Saueracker's statement.
I . INTRODUCTION M r. Chirdo confronted Mr. Saueracker at the Hampton Inn in Bethlehem, P en n sylvan ia in early 2005. Mr. Chirdo asked Mr. Saueracker why older workers were b e in g "pushed out" of the company. Mr. Chirdo remembers Mr. Saueracker responding " w e are hiring younger people for new ideas." The defendants contend that this comment is inadmissible because it is a stray remark made by a non-decisionmaker, i.e., someone w h o did not participate in the decision, made several months later, to terminate Mr.
C h i rd o . Mr. Chirdo believes the statement is admissible evidence of the defendants' " c o r p o r a te culture" of discriminating against older employees.
I I . DISCUSSION In an employment discrimination case, even a stray remark by a nond e c is io n m a k e r may be admissible. Walden v. Georgia-Pacific Corp., 126 F.3d 506, 5202 1 (3d Cir. 1997) ("stray remarks" - even when made by individuals outside the decisionm a k in g process - may be admissible as evidence of discriminatory intent or corporate c u ltu re ). The Third Circuit has recognized an exception to the general rule that stray r e m a r k s are inadmissible for remarks that reflect "a cumulative managerial attitude." Ryder v. Westinghouse, 128 F.3d 128 (3d Cir. 1997). Where, as here, the evidence of c o rp o ra te culture is not out-weighed by prejudice or the likelihood the jury will be c o n f u se d , it should be admitted. In this case, as in Ryder, the CEO made a statement regarding the value of younger e m p lo ye e s. The statement did not relate to Chirdo and was made by someone who did n o t participate in the decision to terminate him. Those facts do not render the statement ir re le v a n t. In Ryder, the Third Circuit found that comments "made by either the company C E O or by executives with authority to render personnel decisions . . . [and] in reflection o n past managerial viewpoints . . . with an eye toward future change" were admissible.
Id . at 133. The court explained that "[i]f the jury were to believe that these comments a c c u ra tely reflected a then existing managerial attitude toward older workers . . . this e v id e n c e would make the existence of an improper motive for [plaintiff's] termination m o re probable." Id. (citing F.R.E. 401; Brewer v. Quaker State Oil Refining Corp., 72 F .3 d 326, 333-34 (3d Cir. 1995); Abrams v. Lightolier, Inc., 50 F.3d 1204, 1214-15 (3d C ir. 1995); Lockhart v. Westinghouse Credit Corp., 879 F.2d 43, 54 (3d Cir.1989); W alde n , 126. F.3d at 520-21). M r. Saueracker's comment will be admitted. If the jury believes the statement was a c tu a lly made, it is relevant evidence of defendants' motive.
I I I . CONCLUSION T h e defendants' request to exclude Mr. Saueracker's statement is denied. An a p p r o p r ia te Order follows.
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