Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Recent Decisions of Note out of Lackawanna County

Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas recently issued two notable opinions.

Florimonte v. Scranton Laminated Label, Inc., No. 08-CV-1569 (Lacka. Co. March 15, 2010 Nealon, J.)

In the case of Florimonte v. Scranton Laminated Label, Inc., et al., Judge Nealon presided over a non-jury civil trial pertaining to claims of gender discrimination, retaliatory discharge, and sexual harassment/hostile working environment in violation of the federal Civil Rights Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

The Plaintiff was an "at-will" employee of Scranton Label. The evidence revealed employees at the company, including the Plaintiff used profanity of a non-sexual nature at work when customers were not around. The evidence also showed that at least two male employees generated as much as 9 or 10 times more business on their industrial accounts compared to the smaller boutique business accounts that the Plaintiff chose to devote her efforts to.

Also noted in the Opinion were allegations by the Plaintiff wrote a letter to her employer containing complaints about co-workers and asserting that she believed that representatives of Scranton Label had installed surveillance or recording devices in her company vehicle and at her desk with the assistance of the FBI. The employees at Scranton Label alleged to be involved in this all denied the allegations as absurd. To be sure, the Defendant had a State Trooper, with the Plaintiff present, sweep the car for listening devices and none were found. An independent inspection of the vehicle secured by the Plaintiff also failed to unveil any listening devices in the car. The Plaintiff declined the employer's offer to have her desk and office check out as well.

Shortly thereafter, the employer issued a letter to the Plaintiff terminating her from employment "due to the bizarre behavior you have exhibited over the past week toward my employees and me" and "expressed hope [that] you seek the medical attention that you desparately need."

The Opinion noted the new employees who followed in the Plaintiff's position at Scranton Label were able to generate much more money in sales than the Plaintiff had. The Court also rejected the Plaintiffs' claims with respect to the listening devices, which was admittedly the basis of her claims of harassment, as incredible.

In his Opinion, Judge Nealon provided a thorough analysis of the current state of the law on the burden of proof on claims of gender discrimination, sexual harassment/hostile work environment, and retaliatory discharge.

After analyzing the law and reviewing all of the facts presented, Judge Nealon concluded his Opinion with the entry of a March 15, 2010 non-jury verdict in favor of Defendants, Scranton Laminated Label, Inc., et al.

Scranton Times, LP v. Entercom Wilkes Barre Scranton, LLC and John Gasper, No. 10-CV-2439 (Lacka. Co. April 10, 2010 Nealon, J.)

In Scranton Times LP v. Entercom Wilkes Barre Scranton, et al., Judge Nealon addressed the motion for a preliminary injunction filed by the Scranton Times seeking to enjoin a radio personality and his current employer from utilizing the ex-employee's professional name and any fictional characters, comedic material or artistic product that the radio personality developed and published during his former employment under the Scranton Times.

The radio personality involved is John Gasper, whose "stage name" was John Webster. For the past 25 years Gasper was part of the Daniels & Webster due on the Rock 107 morning show, a local radio fixture in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Recently, Mr. Gasper announced his resignation from his position at Rock 107 and his intention to accept employment with another radio station. In this matter, the former employer sought to enjoin Gasper from using the name "John Webster" and any of the the comedic material in his new position.

After providing an analysis of the standard of review for the issuance of a preliminary injunction as well as the law on the standard of review on preliminary injunctions, construction of employment contracts, and state and federal trademark claims, the Court granted in part and denied part the motion for the preliminary injunction.

More specifically, in his April 10, 2010 Order attached to the Opinion, Judge Nealon denied the motion seeking to enjoin Mr. Gasper from using the name "John Webster" in the future, but granted the motion to enjoin the use of the comedic materials and characters developed during the previous employment.

Anyone desiring a copy of these Opinions may contact me at

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