Evergetis v. SCANA Corporation et al

Filing 40

ORDER denying 24 Motion for Summary Judgment, denying 25 Motion for Summary Judgment, and notifying parties the case will be set for the trial in the November/December 2010 term of court and will be tried without a jury. Signed by Honorable Joseph F Anderson, Jr on 08/17/2010.(bshr, )

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U N I T E D STATES DISTRICT COURT D IS T R IC T OF SOUTH CAROLINA C O L U M B IA DIVISION T a m m y Evergetis, ) ) P l a in tif f , ) v. ) ) S C A N A Corporation and the SCANA ) C o rp o ra tio n Severance Policy, ) ) D e f e n d a n ts . ) _________________________________ ) C / A No. 3:09-cv-00097-JFA ORDER T h is matter comes before the court on the parties' cross-motions for summary j u d g m e n t (ECF. Nos. 24 and 25). The court held a hearing on August 5, 2010. After c o n sid e rin g the written materials submitted and the arguments of counsel, the court denies th e motions for summary judgment. The plaintiff, Tammy Evergetis, has sued SCANA alleging wrongful denial of s e v e ra n c e benefits pursuant to Section 502(a)(1)(B) of the Employee Retirement Income S e c u rity Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.1 The SCANA subsidiary she worked for was s o ld to another company, and Evergetis accepted a position with the purchasing company. S h e contends that she is entitled to severance benefits under SCANA's severance policy b e c au s e she was an exempt employee to whom the policy applied and because she suffered a layoff or job elimination as those terms are defined in the policy. Evergetis further c o n te n d s that in the event that the court finds that the terms "layoff" and "job elimination" The complaint also included a claim for violation of the Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA), which Evergetis later voluntarily dismissed. 1 are ambiguous, the court should still award benefits because the meaning of those terms s h o u ld be construed against SCANA. The defendants argue that the policy does not apply to Evergetis because she was not a n exempt employee. The defendants further contend that even if the policy does apply, E v e rg e tis does not meet the eligibility requirements to receive benefits. The defendants m a in tain that Evergetis did not experience a layoff or job elimination but instead voluntarily c h o se to pursue another job. Finally, the defendants contend that Evergetis never e x p e rie n c ed a period of actual unemployment. Instead, she transferred from one employer to another and continued in substantially the same position. S u m m a ry judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to in te rro g a to rie s, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no g e n u in e issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). It is well-established that summary judgment should b e granted "only when it is clear that there is no dispute concerning either the facts of the c o n tro v e rs y or the inferences to be drawn from those facts." Pulliam Inv. Co. v. Cameo P r o p e rtie s, 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir. 1987). W ith this standard in mind, the court has reviewed the parties' briefs, the record, and th e law, and has considered the arguments made at the hearing. The court is constrained to f in d at this stage in the case that there are genuine issues of material fact that prevent the c o u r t from granting judgment as a matter of law. The court will reconsider the parties' a rg u m e n ts during the bench trial of this case. This case will be set for trial in the November/December 2010 term, and will be tried w ith o u t a jury. IT IS SO ORDERED. A u g u st 17, 2010 C o lu m b ia , South Carolina J o s e p h F. Anderson, Jr. U n ite d States District Judge

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