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Esposito v. Maricopa County Community College District

United States District Court, D. Arizona

December 20, 2016

Sonia Esposito and Karen Hardin, Plaintiffs,
v.
Maricopa County Community College District, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Neil V. Wake Senior United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is Defendant's Amended Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 57), Defendant's separate statement of facts in support of its motion (Doc. 58), Plaintiffs' response to Defendant's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 64), Plaintiffs' response to Defendant's statement of facts and Plaintiffs' separate statement of facts (Doc. 63), Defendant's reply in support of its motion for summary judgment (Doc. 67), and Defendant's objections to Plaintiff's response to Defendant's statement of facts and Plaintiffs' separate statement of facts (Doc. 68).

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion for summary judgment tests whether the opposing party has sufficient evidence to merit a trial. Summary judgment should be granted if the evidence reveals no genuine dispute about any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A material fact is one that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, and a factual dispute is genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         The movant has the burden of showing the absence of genuine disputes of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). However, once the movant shows an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case, the burden shifts to the party resisting the motion. The party opposing summary judgment must then “set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial” and may not rest upon the pleadings. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256. If a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact, the court may consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, must not weigh the evidence or assess its credibility, and must draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.

         The Local Rules require that any party filing a motion for summary judgment file a statement, separate from the motion and memorandum of law, that sets forth each material fact on which the party relies in support of the motion. LRCiv. 56.1(a). Any party opposing a motion for summary judgment must file a separate controverting statement of facts that sets forth:

(1) for each paragraph of the moving party's separate statement of facts, a correspondingly numbered paragraph indicating whether the party disputes the statement of fact set forth in that paragraph and a reference to the specific admissible portion of the record supporting the party's position if the fact is disputed; and (2) any additional facts that establish a genuine issue of material fact or otherwise preclude judgment in favor of the moving party. Each additional fact must be set forth in a separately numbered paragraph and must refer to a specific admissible portion of the record where the fact finds support.

         LRCiv 56.1(b). The moving party may file a reply memorandum, but the Local Rules do not authorize filing a separate statement responding to the nonmoving party's controverting statement of facts. See LRCiv 56.1(d). The moving party may include its objections to the nonmoving party's controverting statement of facts in its reply memorandum. LRCiv 7.2(m)(2). The moving party would need to seek and obtain leave to file another separate statement. If such leave were granted, the nonmoving party would be granted opportunity to respond.

         Further,

A plaintiff alleging employment discrimination need produce very little evidence in order to overcome an employer's motion for summary judgment. This is because the ultimate question is one that can only be resolved through a searching inquiry-one that is most appropriately conducted by a factfinder, upon a full record. In evaluating motions for summary judgment in the context of employment discrimination, we have emphasized the importance of zealously guarding an employee's right to a full trial, since discrimination claims are frequently difficult to prove without a full airing of the evidence and an opportunity to evaluate the credibility of the witnesses.

Davis v. Team Elec. Co., 520 F.3d 1080, 1089 (9th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         II. MATERIAL FACTS BASED ON EVIDENCE VIEWED IN THE LIGHT MOST FAVORABLE TO PLAINTIFFS[1]

         Defendant is the Maricopa County Community College District, a political subdivision of the State of Arizona, which manages and operates ten community colleges and two skill centers in Maricopa County, Arizona, including Mesa Community College. Shouan Pan has been the President of Mesa Community College since 2008. James Mabry was the Vice President of Academic Affairs at Mesa Community College from 2008 to January 2015. Rodney Holmes is the Dean of Instructional Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Mesa Community College and a former member and chair of the Counseling Department.

         Plaintiffs are Sonia Esposito and Karen Hardin. Both are native-born U.S. citizens. Esposito is Latina in race and national origin and is now 49 years old. Hardin is African-American in race and is now 67 years old. Esposito has been a full-time faculty member of the Counseling Department at Mesa Community College since 2004. Hardin began working as a faculty member of the Counseling Department at Mesa Community ...


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