Donlin v. Philips Lighting N. Am. Corp., No. 07-4060 - Employment Law - U.S. Third Circuit
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Donlin v. Philips Lighting N. Am. Corp., No. 07-4060

In a gender discrimination and retaliation action under Title VII, district court's judgment is affirmed as to liability where the district court did not abuse its discretion and met its responsibility to provide the jury with a clear articulation of the relevant law.  The damages ruling is vacated and remanded as the court abused its discretion in allowing plaintiff's testimony regarding the pension component of her back pay damages and her front pay where the testimony was of a specialized or technical nature and was not within plaintiff's personal knowledge, and furthermore, the error was not harmless since her testimony constituted a significant share of the damages evidence presented at trial.  In light of the remand the circuit court provided guidance on the remainder of defendant's arguments: 1) if the evidence supports a similar finding that plaintiff's new job is not substantially equivalent, the district court should again conclude as a matter of law that plaintiff can only be made whole if awarded sufficient back pay to make up the difference; 2) district court did not abuse its discretion when it awarded plaintiff front pay for 10 years; 3) district court's finding that plaintiff sufficiently mitigated her damages was not clearly erroneous; 4) district court may determine plaintiff's compensatory damages by comparing her to any other defendant's employee with similar characteristics; and 5) district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff's request for a multiplier, and accordingly the court's award of attorney's fees was proper. 

Read Donlin v. Philips Lighting N. Am. Corp., No. 07-4060

Appellate Information

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania (D.C. No. 05-cv-00585)
District Judge: Honorable Richard P. Conaboy

Argued November 17, 2008
Opinion Filed September 9, 2009

Judges

Before:  Scirica, Chief Judge, Fuentes and Hardiman, Circuit Judges 
Opinion by Circuit Judge Hardiman 

Counsel

Counsel for Appellant: David R. Fine, Jacqueline E. Bedard, Amy L. Groff, K&L Gates 

Counsel for Appellee:  Stephen D. Rhoades, Law Offices of Edward P. McNelis, Theodore R. Laputka, Jr., Theodore R. Laputka & Associates