Case: Rupert v. PPG Industries, Inc.

2:07-cv-00705 | U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania

Filed Date: May 24, 2007

Closed Date: 2009

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On May 24, 2007, 5 former employees of PPG Industries, Inc., filed this federal suit in the Western District of Pennsylvania, seeking individual relief, class action status for similarly situated former employees (40 years of age or older), and collective action remedies (see 29 U.S.C. §216(b)) for alleged violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Plaintiffs sought injunctive and monetary relief in the form of a…

On May 24, 2007, 5 former employees of PPG Industries, Inc., filed this federal suit in the Western District of Pennsylvania, seeking individual relief, class action status for similarly situated former employees (40 years of age or older), and collective action remedies (see 29 U.S.C. §216(b)) for alleged violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Plaintiffs sought injunctive and monetary relief in the form of attorney fees, damages with interest for lost earnings and benefits, liquidated damages (under the ADEA), and an injunction against PPG's discriminatory termination of employment. The plaintiffs alleged as follows.

The complaint alleged that a new CEO had pursued aggressive cost-cutting through "reductions in force" (RIF), which in the context of comments he made about older employees caused the idea that older employees were not pulling their weight and needed to be removed to percolate down through the ranks of management. Management then engaged in pervasive age discrimination in firing older employees and replacing them with new ones. PPG's methods included immediate firing without notice or opportunity for correction, fabrication of poor performance reviews to use as leverage during firings, and offering "retirement packages" that were exactly the same as the offers for other terminated employees. The firings took place without explanation or with the explanation that they were corporate downsizing. Although at first younger employees were immediately assigned to the older employee's position, PPG eventually sought to disguise its behavior by delegating the work out to multiple younger employees and then later filling the position under a new title. PPG sometimes hired back the exact same employees to do the same work on a contract rather than salaried basis. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant engaged in these discriminatory practices for at least a decade.

Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on August 7, 2007, that elaborated on the allegations of the first complaint and clarified the legal basis for the suit. Most notable among the added facts were the following: that PPG had moved from an objective, numerical system of performance review to a subjective, non-numerical system susceptible to manipulation and inconsistency; that PPG violated its written policy of reinstating, retraining, or relocating employees terminated as part of an RIF when positions became available; and that PPG violated its written policy of performing a disparate impact analysis of RIFs. Plaintiffs divided the counts into a collective action for disparate treatment under the ADEA, a collective action for disparate impact under the ADEA, and a class action under ERISA. Because of differing legal standards for collective actions and class actions and the similarity in available relief, Plaintiffs later withdrew the Erisa count (October 16, 2007).

On September 10, 2007, PPG filed a counterclaim for breach of contract, claiming that release agreements included in the severance packages barred the Plaintiffs and similarly situated employees from filing suit and entitled PPG to repayment of the severance pay and to attorney fees. Plaintiffs attempted to amend their complaint to add retaliation under the ADEA on the ground that PPG's counterclaim was improper because the agreements were legally unenforceable, but the Court (Judge Arthur J. Schwab) rejected the amendment on timeliness grounds (November 26, 2007). On May 6, 2008, Plaintiffs filed their retaliation claims as a separate lawsuit (docket: 08-cv-00616), which was consolidated into this case on June 18, 2008.

On February 26, 2009, adopting the recommendations of Special Master Kevin Lucas, the Court held, among other things, that the releases were unenforceable and barred the Defendant from pursuing a breach of contract claim. 2009 WL 596014 (W.D. Pa. 2009). The next day, contrary to the Special Master's recommendation (2009 WL 579234 (W.D.Pa. 2009)), the Court restricted the Plaintiffs' case to claims that accrued on or after December 31, 2005. 2009 WL 501907 (W.D. Pa. 2009). On March 24, 2009, the Court denied Plaintiffs' requests for attorney fees for the ADEA claims as premature and for the counterclaim issue over the releases. 2009 WL 792909 (W.D. Pa. 2009). In accordance with the Court's decision on the counterclaim, Defendant filed an amended counterclaim for promissory estoppel and unjust enrichment, seeking the difference between the severance actually paid and what would have been paid without the release (June 30, 2009).

The case continued with significant discovery disputes. The parties participated in mediation from October 23, 2007, through September 16, 2009, but did not reach a settlement. Eventually, though, the parties did reach a settlement, and on November 20, 2009, the Court approved the settlement. Because the settlement is private and not a consent decree, its exact terms are not available. The parties indicated that the settlement involved no non-monetary relief and no terms that required continued court supervision. The parties stipulated to the settlement class as the 58 former PPG employees who filed a consent to join and stipulated that the named plaintiffs were authorized to settle on behalf of all. The Court approval order awarded legal costs to the parties according to the terms of the settlement but did not indicate whether the settlement actually shifted the costs in any way. The order dismissed the claims and counterclaims with prejudice. It also left open the option to reinstate the docket if proceedings related to the settlement should become necessary. The case is closed.

Summary Authors

Kenneth Gray (6/18/2013)

Related Cases

Rupert v. PPG Industries, Inc., Western District of Pennsylvania (2008)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attrorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4857123/parties/rupert-v-ppg-industries-inc/


Judge(s)

Schwab, Arthur J. (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Evans, Melissa L. (Pennsylvania)

Fabian, Rudy A. (Pennsylvania)

Fox, Bruce C. (Pennsylvania)

Lamberton, Charles A. (Pennsylvania)

Leonard, William J. (Pennsylvania)

McCann, Laurie A. (District of Columbia)

Murray, Colin W. (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Antkowiak, Christian (Pennsylvania)

Glunt, James F. (Pennsylvania)

Judge(s)

Schwab, Arthur J. (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Evans, Melissa L. (Pennsylvania)

Fabian, Rudy A. (Pennsylvania)

Fox, Bruce C. (Pennsylvania)

Lamberton, Charles A. (Pennsylvania)

Leonard, William J. (Pennsylvania)

McCann, Laurie A. (District of Columbia)

Murray, Colin W. (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Antkowiak, Christian (Pennsylvania)

Glunt, James F. (Pennsylvania)

McLaughlin, Erin J. (Pennsylvania)

Meade, Matthew H. (Pennsylvania)

Murphy, Terrence H. (Pennsylvania)

Passarello, Lisa M. (Pennsylvania)

Pittler, Alan M. (Pennsylvania)

Porter, David James (Pennsylvania)

Tuite, Jaime S. (Pennsylvania)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Lucas, Kevin P. (Pennsylvania)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

2:08-cv-00616

Docket (PACER)

June 18, 2008

June 18, 2008

Docket

2:07-cv-00705

Docket [PACER]

Nov. 30, 2009

Nov. 30, 2009

Docket
2956-11

2:07-cv-00705

Class Action Complaint

May 24, 2007

May 24, 2007

Complaint
13

2:07-cv-00705

First Amended Class and Collective Complaint

Aug. 7, 2007

Aug. 7, 2007

Complaint
601

2:08-cv-00616

Collective Action Complaint

May 8, 2008

May 8, 2008

Complaint

2:07-cv-00705

Report and Recommendation (Regarding the Motion Judgment on the Pleadings for Statute of Limitations)

2009 WL 579234

Feb. 11, 2009

Feb. 11, 2009

Magistrate Report/Recommendation
133

2:07-cv-00705

2:08-cv-00616

Order of Court Adopting Reports and Recommendations of Special Master at Document Nos. 123, 124, and 126

2009 WL 596014

Feb. 26, 2009

Feb. 26, 2009

Order/Opinion
134

2:07-cv-00705

2:08-cv-00616

Order of Court (Granting Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings)

2009 WL 501907

Feb. 27, 2009

Feb. 27, 2009

Order/Opinion
233

2:07-cv-00705

2:08-cv-00616

PPG's Second Amended Counterclaim

June 30, 2009

June 30, 2009

Complaint
302

2:07-cv-00705

2:08-cv-00616

Order (Granting Motion to Approve Settlement)

Rupert v. PPG Industries, INC.

Nov. 20, 2009

Nov. 20, 2009

Order/Opinion

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4857123/rupert-v-ppg-industries-inc/

Last updated Aug. 27, 2022, 3:02 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
45

ORDER denying 32 Motion to Dismiss; denying re: w/ 32 Motion to Strike. Signed by Judge Arthur J. Schwab on 10-24-07. (nam)

Oct. 24, 2007

Oct. 24, 2007

RECAP
133

ORDER Adopting Special Master's Reports and Recommendations at documents nos. 123 , 124 and 126 ; granting 75 Motion for Summary Judgment; denying 77 Motion for Summary Judgment; denying 79 Motion for Summary Judgment; denying 81 Motion for Summary Judgment; granting 83 Motion for Summary Judgment; granting in part and denying in part 85 Sealed Motion. Signed by Judge Arthur J. Schwab on 02/26/09. (mjl)

Feb. 26, 2009

Feb. 26, 2009

RECAP
134

ORDER granting 73 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Signed by Judge Arthur J. Schwab on 2/27/09. (mjl)

Feb. 27, 2009

Feb. 27, 2009

RECAP
152

ORDER denying 135 Motion for Attorney Fees. Signed by Judge Arthur J. Schwab on 3/24/09. (mjl)

March 24, 2009

March 24, 2009

RECAP
292

MEMORANDUM ORDER denying 266 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Signed by Judge Arthur J. Schwab on 10/28/09. (mjl)

Oct. 28, 2009

Oct. 28, 2009

RECAP
302

ORDER granting 300 Motion to Approve Settlement. Signed by Judge Arthur J. Schwab on 11/20/09. (mjl)

Nov. 20, 2009

Nov. 20, 2009

RECAP

Case Details

State / Territory: Pennsylvania

Case Type(s):

Equal Employment

Special Collection(s):

Multi-LexSum (in sample)

Key Dates

Filing Date: May 24, 2007

Closing Date: 2009

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

5 former employees of PPG Industries, Inc., age 40 or older.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

PPG Industries, Inc., Private Entity/Person

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. § 1001

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq.

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Damages

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Private Settlement Agreement

Issues

General:

Disparate Impact

Disparate Treatment

Pattern or Practice

Retaliation

Discrimination-area:

Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff

Discrimination-basis:

Age discrimination