WHEELING – U.S. District Judge Frederick Stamp gives Graybar Electric and former employee Joseph Veltri a week to avert a jury trial on Veltri's discrimination claim.
On Aug. 18, with trial set for Sept. 14, Stamp set a mediation session for Sept. 1.
"The parties and their representatives, fully authorized to make final and binding decisions on behalf of the principals must be present in person," he wrote.
"All counsel and parties shall be prepared to negotiate openly and knowledgeably concerning the issues of the civil action in a mutual effort to reach a fair and reasonable settlement," he wrote.
He promised to be available if anyone failed to participate in good faith.
He asked lawyers to deliver five-page summaries on Friday, Aug. 27.
Veltri, 51, of New Cumberland, lost his job in counter sales at Graybar's Wheeling branch last year. He sued in Ohio County, alleging Graybar retained less qualified and younger persons.
His lawyer, Michael Nogay of Weirton, wrote that Veltri worked 28 years for Graybar and would have qualified for a bigger pension in two years.
Nogay classified Veltri as handicapped under West Virginia human rights law, with an arthritic knee, poor circulation in the legs, and a weight of 330 pounds. He wrote that the human rights law protected Veltri on account of his age.
Graybar removed the suit to federal court and answered that it let Veltri go due to a 40 percent drop in counter sales.
On a motion from Graybar, Stamp dismissed Veltri's claim that terminating him two years before his pension would have increased breached public policy.
As Graybar and Veltri prepare to mediate, they don't know what evidence Stamp would allow a jury to hear.
Graybar lawyer Craig Snethen of Pittsburgh filed three motions on Aug. 12, to restrict the range of evidence.
Snethen moved to keep Veltri from testifying that he worked as a customer service representative in Texas in 1985.
"Plaintiff has adduced no evidence demonstrating that the job function of a customer service representative in June 2009 were in any way the same as, or even similar to, those which he allegedly performed more than two decades prior," he wrote.
He moved to exclude evidence about Veltri's pension eligibility, arguing that Stamp disposed of that issue. He also moved to exclude evidence that Graybar misled him about his security in 2007.
"Plaintiff clearly has not, and cannot, establish that Defendant was somehow clairvoyant enough as to predict such an unpredictable downturn in the economy," he wrote.
On Aug. 17, Nogay argued that all three topics were relevant.
As of Aug. 25, Stamp had not ruled on the motions.
On Aug. 25, Veltri and Graybar jointly proposed a pretrial order identifying three issues in dispute.
They asked the following:
* "Did Graybar select Plaintiff for layoff because of his age?"
* "Did Graybar select Plaintiff for layoff because of his physical condition?"
* "Are the legitimate and nondiscriminatory reasons articulated by Graybar for selecting Plaintiff for layoff pretextual?"
Both sides predicted a four-day trial.