Case: Brewer v. Miller Brewing Co.

5:93-cv-01600 | U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York

Filed Date: Dec. 23, 1993

Closed Date: Feb. 27, 1995

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On December 23, 1993, three employees of the Miller Brewing Company filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Norther District of New York on behalf of all African American employees of the company’s plant in Fulton, N.Y. They alleged racial harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and § 296 of Article 15 of the New York State Executive Laws. The employees, represented by private counsel, sought compensatory and punitive damages. The case was assigned to Judge…

On December 23, 1993, three employees of the Miller Brewing Company filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Norther District of New York on behalf of all African American employees of the company’s plant in Fulton, N.Y. They alleged racial harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and § 296 of Article 15 of the New York State Executive Laws. The employees, represented by private counsel, sought compensatory and punitive damages. The case was assigned to Judge Frederick J. Scullin, Jr. on December 23, 1993.

According to the New York Times, the plaintiffs alleged that they had been subject to pervasive harassment and discrimination. They described racist graffiti that had been put on the lockers and walls of the plant, as well as cords tied into hangman’s nooses. Some employees also received threatening calls and notes. Twice, messages saying to “kill” black people were found in the employee restrooms. One particular African American employee was subjected to frequent racial slurs over the plant wide public address system, until the employee took an 11 month medical leave of absence.

Shortly after the lawsuit was filed and prior to the class action being certified, the company began reaching out to previously terminated African American employees to offer them “severance” packages which included releases of any claims against Miller. On January 26, 1994, the plaintiffs filed for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to stop the company from issuing these severances, which they claimed would irreparably harm potential class members who elected not to take the severances. Miller agreed to stop issuing the severance packages pending a hearing on the preliminary injunction. On February 7, Judge Scullin denied the preliminary injunction on the grounds that the letter being sent by Miller, which included the addresses and telephone numbers of class counsel, was not coercive or misleading and would not irreparably harm the plaintiff’s class.

In December of 1994, before the class had been certified, Miller Brewing reached a settlement with 97 former African American workers at the Fulton plant and individual settlements with two of the three original employees who came forward with complaints. The New York Times reported that the company agreed to pay out $2.7 million to these former workers but admitted no wrongdoing. The individual settlement terms were not disclosed. The motion for settlement was granted on December 29, 1994 and the final settlement was approved on February 27, 1995. The case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Jonah Feitelson (3/5/2020)

People


Judge(s)

Scullin, Frederick James Jr. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Persky, Bernard (New York)

Roberts, Anita U (New York)

Seymour, Richard Talbot (New York)

Vinick, Sharon R. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Grooms, Thomas J (New York)

Other Attorney(s)

Active

Judge(s)

Scullin, Frederick James Jr. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Persky, Bernard (New York)

Roberts, Anita U (New York)

Seymour, Richard Talbot (New York)

Vinick, Sharon R. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Grooms, Thomas J (New York)

Other Attorney(s)

Cohen, Sanford M. (New York)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

Sept. 28, 2007 Docket
35

Order

1994 WL 287007

June 7, 1994 Order/Opinion

Resources

Title Description External URL

New York Times - Race and the American Workplace

Michael Janofsky

Descriptions of the allegations in Brewer v. Miller Brewing company. June 20, 1994 https://www.nytimes.com/1993/06/20/business/race-and-the-american-workplace.html

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link

SUMMONS(ES) issued for Miller Brewing Co. (fce) (Entered: 12/27/1993)

Dec. 23, 1993

CASE REFERRED to Magistrate Judge Gustave J. DiBianco (fce) (Entered: 12/27/1993)

Dec. 23, 1993

Filing Order Issued; Conference set before Magistrate Judge Gustave J. DiBianco in Syracuse, Status Conference at 9:30 5/4/94 , Deadline for filing Case Management Plan, 4/25/94 (fce) (Entered: 12/27/1993)

Dec. 23, 1993
2

SUMMONS Returned Executed as to Miller Brewing Co. through Secretary of State, Tammy Alexander, authorized agent on 12/28/93 : Answer due on 1/17/94 for Miller Brewing Co. (bjw) (Entered: 01/04/1994)

Jan. 3, 1994
3

ANSWER to Complaint by Miller Brewing Co. (Attorney Thomas J. Grooms), (bjw) (Entered: 01/19/1994)

Jan. 18, 1994
4

MEMORANDUM OF LAW by Cynthia R. Brewer, Giles E. Gibson, J. D. Smith Jr. in support of their motion for Preliminary Injunction Restricting Defts' contacts with absent class memebersi; with certificate of service attached (dmf) Modified on 02/02/1994 (Entered: 01/26/1994)

Jan. 26, 1994
5

AFFIDAVIT of Bernard Persky, Esq. by Cynthia R. Brewer, Giles E. Gibson, J. D. Smith Jr. in support of pltfs' application for temporary restraining order and motion for preliminary injunction; with exhibits attached (dmf) Modified on 02/02/1994 (Entered: 01/26/1994)

Jan. 26, 1994
6

MEMORANDUM OF LAW by Miller Brewing Co. in opposition to Pltf's Motion to Show Cause (dmf) Modified on 02/02/1994 (Entered: 01/26/1994)

Jan. 26, 1994
7

DECLARATION of Albert R. Butler by Miller Brewing Co. in Support of Miller Brewing Company's Memo of Law in Opposition to pltfs' motion to Show Cause (dmf) Modified on 02/02/1994 (Entered: 01/26/1994)

Jan. 26, 1994
8

STIPULATION &ORDER: Parties agree that: 1) Defendant may transmit proposed severance package to any employees who are not members of the putative class; 2) Defendant will not transmit package to employees who are members of the putative class until hearing and determination of plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction; 3) Parties will co−operate to come to an agreement on modified language or a prososed notice to be included as a part of a severance package to be sent to African−American employees, as allowed by the Court, 4) If parties are unable to agree on language or notice, plaintiffs reserve right to request appropriate relief of Court; 5) Defendant will use best efforts to ensure that inquiries about severance package not being transmitted to putative class members are referred to appropriate official of defendant and that defendant respond by stating matter is pending in USDC. dated Janurary 26, 1994. Signed by Bernard Persky for pltfs, Thomas Grooms for Deft. (signed by Senior Judge Howard G. Munson) (jmb) Modified on 02/02/1994 (Entered: 01/27/1994)

Jan. 26, 1994
9

Minute entry:, Hon. Howard G. Munson, Senior USDJ, Presiding. Court reviews application for possible temporary restraining order / preliminary injunction by pltfs. Parties agree to consider proposed stipulation to terms which would obviate need for TRO. Parties to proceed to hearing on preliminary injunction before Hon. Frederick J. Scullin, USDJ. Appearances: Anita U. Roberts, Bernard Persky and Richard T. Seymour for pltfs; Thomas J. Grooms, Donald R. Livingston and Richard L. Wyatt for deft. Attorneys Livingston and Wyatt admitted to NDNY by Senior Judge Munson. Court Reporter/ECRO: Kenneth Crewell. (ptm) Modified on 02/03/1994 (Entered: 01/27/1994)

Jan. 26, 1994
10

ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE: by Cynthia R. Brewer, Giles E. Gibson, J. D. Smith Jr. to Certify Class with respect to punitive damage claims and compensatory damage claims Motion to be taken ON SUBMIT. Show Cause Response Deadline 2/21/94 ; ( Signed by Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. ) (bjw) (Entered: 02/08/1994)

Feb. 3, 1994
11

MEMORANDUM by Cynthia R. Brewer, Giles E. Gibson, J. D. Smith Jr. in support of [10−1] motion to Certify Class with respect to punitive damage claims

Feb. 3, 1994
13

SUPPLEMENTAL MEMORANDUM by Cynthia R. Brewer, Giles E. Gibson, J. D. Smith Jr. in further support of [10−1] motion to Certify Class with respect to punitive damage claims and compensatory damage claims (bjw) (Entered: 02/08/1994)

Feb. 3, 1994
14

AMICUS CURAIE BRIEF filed by NYS Attorney General's Office, with permission granted by Judge Frederick Scullin, Jr. (bjw) (Entered: 02/08/1994)

Feb. 3, 1994
16

Minute entry: Hearing on preliminary injunction − APP: Anita Roberts, Bernard Persky, Richard Seymour for pltfs; Thomas Grooms, Donald Livingston, Richard Wyatt for deft. Atty Seymour is admitted pro hac vice. Oral argument is heard and judge reserves decision; decision will be rendered Monday 2/7/94. Pltfs to file motion for class certification. Court Reporter/ECRO: Eileen McDonough (jat) (Entered: 02/14/1994)

Feb. 3, 1994
17

Minute entry: Ruling on preliminary injunction − denied, no irreaparable harm found. Deft has two weeks to respond to class certification motion. APP: Anita Roberts for pltfs; Thomas Grooms for deft. Court Reporter/ECRO: E. McDonough (jat) (Entered: 02/14/1994)

Feb. 7, 1994
15

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE BY FAX AND BY HAND by Cynthia R. Brewer, Giles E. Gibson, J. D. Smith Jr. re: Order to Show Cause Why Class Should Not be Certified on 2/3/94. (bjw) (Entered: 02/09/1994)

Feb. 8, 1994
18

TRANSCRIPT filed for dates of 2/7/94− Decision, Syracuse, NY (bjw) (Entered: 02/17/1994)

Feb. 16, 1994
19

REQUEST and ORDER, Response to Motion reset to 3/1/94 for [10−1] motion to Certify Class with respect to punitive damage claims and compensatory damage claims and that defts. shall not contact punitive class members from 5:00 pm 2/21/94 until 3/1/94 except contact w/ deft. management personnel. ( signed by Magistrate Judge Gustave J. DiBianco ) (bjw) (Entered: 02/18/1994)

Feb. 17, 1994
20

TRANSCRIPT filed for dates of 2/3/94 re: hearing on preliminary injunction in Syracuse, NY. (bjw) (Entered: 02/23/1994)

Feb. 22, 1994
21

LETTER REQUEST by Thomas Grooms Esq. to file brief beyond 25 page limit GRANTED per direction of Judge Scullin. (bjw) (Entered: 03/01/1994)

March 1, 1994
22

MEMORANDUM and Proposed Order by Miller Brewing Co. in opposition to [10−1] motion to Certify Class with respect to punitive damage claims and compensatory damage claims (bjw) (Entered: 03/08/1994)

March 8, 1994
23

DECLARATION by Miller Brewing Co. through J. Kenneth Michaelchuck Re: [22−1] opposition memorandum (bjw) (Entered: 03/08/1994)

March 8, 1994
24

AFFIDAVIT and DECLARATIONS (various) by Miller Brewing Co. Re: [22−1] opposition memorandum (bjw) (Entered: 03/08/1994)

March 8, 1994
25

MOTION by Cynthia R. Brewer, Giles E. Gibson, J. D. Smith Jr. to Amend [1−1] complaint , Hearing set for 10:00 AM on 4/28/94 in Syracuse, Response Deadline 4/14/94 , Reply to Response Deadline 4/21/94; with Affidavit of Bernard Persky and exhibits attached; Motion returnable before Magistrate Judge DiBianco (dmf) (Entered: 03/30/1994)

March 30, 1994
26

MEMORANDUM OF LAW by Cynthia R. Brewer, Giles E. Gibson, J. D. Smith Jr. in support of [25−1] motion to Amend [1−1] complaint (dmf) (Entered: 03/30/1994)

March 30, 1994
27

ORDER granting [25−1] motion to Amend [1−1] complaint; pltfs. are permitted to serve and file the amended complaint in this action; pltfs. shall serve upon counsel for the deft. Miller Brewing Comp., a copy of the amended complaint within ten days of this Order ( signed by Magistrate Judge Gustave J. DiBianco ) (dmf)

March 30, 1994

WITHDRAWAL of [10−1] motion to Certify Class with respect to punitive damage claims and compensatory damage claims (jmb) (Entered: 04/13/1994)

April 11, 1994
29

Letter by Atty Bernard Persky Re: withdrawal of Motion for Class Certification (jmb) (Entered: 04/13/1994)

April 11, 1994
30

ANSWER by Miller Brewing Co. (Attorney Thomas J. Grooms) to amended complaint; w/attached affidavit of service by mail. (jmb) (Entered: 04/18/1994)

April 18, 1994
31

Proposed Joint Civil Case Management Plan Submitted. (bjw) (Entered: 05/13/1994)

May 4, 1994
32

Minute entry: Initial Status Conference before Mag. Judge DiBianco held. Uniform Pretrial Order issued. APP: Anita Roberts, Bernard Persky, Richard Seymour for Pltf; Thomas Grooms, Donald Livingston for Deft. Court Reporter/ECRO: None (bjw) (Entered: 05/13/1994)

May 4, 1994
33

Uniform Pretrial Order; Trial Ready by: 6/23/95; Length of Trial 21 days; Trial Location: Syracuse; Joinder of Parties/Amendment of Pleadings w/i 6 weeks Class Certification motion decision; Discovery Deadline 1/23/95 ; Motion Filing Deadline 3/23/95 ; Jury Trial Deadline 6/26/95 ; ( Signed by: Magistrate Judge Gustave J. DiBianco ) (bjw) (Entered: 05/13/1994)

May 4, 1994
34

LETTER of behalf of Miller Brewing Co. pursuant to General Order #41 regarding Motion: to Dismiss−Amended Complaint served. (jmb) (Entered: 05/25/1994)

May 23, 1994
35

ORDER denying [10−1] motion to Certify Class/Preliminary Injunction restricting defendant's communications with putative class members regarding Millers severance program; denying plaintiff's request for an Order mandating the inclusion of a notice of a class meeting in Miller's severence package; Decision from the Bench 2/7/94. (signed by Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr.) (jmb) (Entered: 06/10/1994)

June 7, 1994
36

ORDER that Amended Complaint is dismissed as to relief sought for conduct occurring before 11/21/91 and as to the extent thjat it seeks compensatory and punitive damages for conduct occurring before 11/221/91 pending a change in the law. ( signed by Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. ) (bjw) (Entered: 06/22/1994)

June 22, 1994
37

Minute entry: Telephone Conference held. Attys. advise they have reached a preliminary settlement for the class. Settlement to be forwarded to the Court week of 11/21/94 for consideration. If settlement approved, atty. fees will remain the only outstanding issue which may be consented to w/o Court intervention. Rule 16 Scheduling Order held in abeyance pending settlement. APP: Bernard persky and Richard Seymour for Pltfs.; Donald Livingston for Deft.; Clerk: B. Woodford; Court Reporter/ECRO: None (bjw) (Entered: 11/27/1994)

Nov. 18, 1994
38

JOINT MOTION/MEMORANDUM OF LAW by Cynthia R. Brewer, Giles E. Gibson, J. D. Smith Jr., Miller Brewing Co. for Settlement resolving all claims asserted in this employment discrimination class aciton (jmb) (Entered: 12/05/1994)

Dec. 2, 1994
39

AFFIDAVIT by Cynthia R. Brewer, Giles E. Gibson, J. D. Smith Jr. in support of [38−1] joint motion for Settlement resolving all claims asserted in this employment discrimination class aciton (jmb) (Entered: 12/05/1994)

Dec. 2, 1994
40

ORDER granting [38−1] joint motion for Settlement resolving all claims asserted in this employment discrimination class action; the notice shall be mailed to class members by 1/9/95; the summary of the notice shall be published at the deft's expense, in the Syracuse Herald Journal &the Fulton Post Standard once a week for three consecutive weeks beginning no later than 1/9/95; a Fairness Hearing will be held on 2/27/95 at 1:00PM in Syracuse, NY; parties may file pleadings &papers in connection with the final approval of the proposed settlement agreement by 2/24/95; all other proceedings, other than those relating to the proposed settlement, are STAYED, and the scheduling order is vacated (Signed by Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr.) (jmb) (Entered: 01/03/1995)

Dec. 29, 1994
41

JOINT MOTION by NYS Attorney General, Giles E. Gibson, Cynthia R. Brewer, J. D. Smith Jr., Miller Brewing Co. for Settlement w/attached affidavit of Bernard Persky; Motion before Judge Scullin on Submit. (jmb) (Entered: 02/24/1995)

Feb. 24, 1995
42

AFFIRMATIONS/DECLARATIONS by Miller Brewing Co. through Thomas J. Grooms, Esq., &Albert R. Butler, in support of [41−1] Joint Motion for Settlement (jmb) (Entered: 02/24/1995)

Feb. 24, 1995
43

MEMORANDUM OF LAW by NYS Attorney General, Giles E. Gibson, Cynthia R. Brewer, J. D. Smith Jr., Miller Brewing Co. in support of [41−1] joint motion for Settlement (jmb) (Entered: 02/24/1995)

Feb. 24, 1995
44

Minute entry: Fairness Hearing held. Decision re: class action settlement read into the record. Court finds the settlement to be fair and reasonable and that no objections to same have been filed. Court approves settlement agreement and certification of settlement class and signs order from bench granting [41−1] joint motion for Settlement. Court notes that settlement DOES NOT include atty. fees. APP: Brenard Persky, Esq.; Richard Seymour, Esq.; Anita Roberts, Esq. for Class Pltfs.; Donlad Livingston, Esq.; Thomas Grooms, Esq.; Albert Butler of Miller Brewing for Deft.; Court Reporter/ECRO: E. McDonough (bjw) (Entered: 02/27/1995)

Feb. 27, 1995
45

ORDER granting [41−1] Joint Motion for final approval of Settlement Agreement and Certification of Settlement Class. (Signed by Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr.) (jmb) (Entered: 02/27/1995)

Feb. 27, 1995

Case closed; pursuant to [45−1] Order of Settlement. (jmb) (Entered: 02/27/1995)

Feb. 27, 1995
46

TRANSCRIPT of Motion Hearing filed for dates of 2/27/95 (Court Reporter: Eileen McDonough) (jmb) (Entered: 03/08/1995)

March 7, 1995
47

CONSENT ORDER: allowing payments to be made to the named Plaintiffs and Class Members from the escrow account of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under Law; such payments to be made as soon as possible. (Signed by Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr.) (jmb) (Entered: 03/22/1995)

March 21, 1995
48

DECLARATION by Giles E. Gibson, Cynthia R. Brewer, J. D. Smith Jr., through Richard T. Seymour, Esq., Re: the court entering an order granting certification to the plaintiff settlement class under FRCP 23(b)(3). (jmb) (Entered: 06/20/1995)

June 20, 1995
49

STIPULATION/ORDER of dismissal with prejudice by Giles E. Gibson, Cynthia R. Brewer, J. D. Smith Jr., Miller Brewing Co.; that costs and attorneys' fees are to be paid as set forth in the attorneys' fees settlement agreement; that the entry of this order shall not be deemed or construed to be an admission, in any mannor, of any liability by Miller Brewing Company. (Signed by Judge Frederick J. Scullin, Jr.) (jmb) (Entered: 06/23/1995)

June 22, 1995

Changed address for Atty. Seymour in ICMS. (lmp) (Entered: 09/05/2001)

Sept. 5, 2001

This file has been retired to the Federal Records Center. For informational purposes, the FRC location numbers are as follows: Accession No. 021−96−0253; Box No. 51 of 70; Location No. C92−04−05−5. (see) (Entered: 09/28/2007)

Sept. 28, 2007

State / Territory: New York

Case Type(s):

Equal Employment

Special Collection(s):

Private Employment Class Actions

Key Dates

Filing Date: Dec. 23, 1993

Closing Date: Feb. 27, 1995

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Black former employees of a Miller Brewing plant in New York.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Mooted before ruling

Defendants

Miller Brewing Company, Private Entity/Person

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e

Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.

State Anti-Discrimination Law

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Damages

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Amount Defendant Pays: 2,700,000

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief denied

Issues

General:

Disparate Treatment

Pattern or Practice

Discrimination-area:

Harassment / Hostile Work Environment

Discrimination-basis:

Race discrimination

Race:

Black