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Fisher v. Glendale Elementary School District

United States District Court, D. Arizona

May 3, 2017

Kimberly Fisher, Plaintiff,
Glendale Elementary School District, Defendant.


          Eileen S. Willett, United States Magistrate Judge

         Pending before the Court is Defendant's fully briefed Motion for Summary Judgment (Docs. 63, 64, 73, 74) and Motion for Sanctions (Docs. 61, 66, 67) in a civil case alleging unlawful employment discrimination which occurred while Plaintiff was working for Glendale Elementary School District. Two causes of action remain in Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (Doc. 9): a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Count Two) and a violation of 42 U.S.C.§ 1981 (Count Six). The parties have consented to proceeding before a Magistrate Judge pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 73 and 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) (Doc. 20). This Court has federal question jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C.§ 1331.

         Oral argument has been requested on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. However, the matter has been fully briefed, and the Court deems oral argument unnecessary to a determination of the issues presented. The request for oral argument is denied.

         After reviewing the parties' submissions, the Court finds that no genuine issue of material fact exists, and Defendant is entitled to summary judgment on Counts Two and Six of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint as a matter of law. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 63) will be granted for the reasons set forth herein.

         Because the Court will grant the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, the Motion for Sanctions (Doc. 61) will be denied as moot.


         Plaintiff filed her First Amended Complaint (Doc. 9) on December 12, 2014. Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss First Amended Complaint (Doc. 17) on January 5, 2015. By Order (Doc. 25) filed on May 26, 2015, the Court found that Plaintiff's notice of claim did not fully comply with Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 12-821.01(E) and deemed Plaintiff's state claims barred, granting Defendant's Motion to Dismiss as to all state law claims reflected in Counts One, Three, Four, and Five. The Court denied the Motion to Dismiss as to Counts Two and Six (Doc. 25 at 7). Defendant filed an Answer to the First Amended Complaint on June 12, 2015 (Doc. 26). All issues are joined.

         Defendant filed its Motion for Summary Judgment (Docs. 63-64) on December 5, 2016. Plaintiff responded (Doc. 73) and Defendant replied (Doc. 74). Defendant asserts that Plaintiff has failed to meet her burden of proof on Counts Two and Six. Defendant also filed a Motion for Sanctions (Doc. 61) on November 29, 2016, alleging that Plaintiff has failed to respond to discovery requests. Plaintiff responded (Doc. 66) and Defendant replied (Doc. 67). Plaintiff asserts that she has responded to Defendant's discovery and met her burden of proof as to Counts Two and Six. The matters are deemed submitted for decision.


         A. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence, when reviewed in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, demonstrates “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Substantive law determines which facts are material in a case and “only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). “A fact issue is genuine ‘if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'” Villiarimo v. Aloha Island Air, Inc., 281 F.3d 1054, 1061 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). Thus, the nonmoving party must show that the genuine factual issues “‘can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.'” Cal. Architectural Bldg. Prods., Inc. v. Franciscan Ceramics, Inc., 818 F.2d 1466, 1468 (9th Cir. 1987) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250).

         Because “[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge . . . [t]he evidence of the nonmovant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor” at the summary judgment stage. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255 (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)); Harris v. Itzhaki, 183 F.3d 1043, 1051 (9th Cir. 1999) (“Issues of credibility, including questions of intent, should be left to the jury.”) (citations omitted).

         When moving for summary judgment, the burden of proof initially rests with the moving party to present the basis for his motion and to identify those portions of the record and affidavits that he believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If the movant fails to carry his initial burden of production, the non-movant need not produce anything further. The motion for summary judgment would then fail. However, if the movant meets his initial burden of production, then the burden shifts to the non-moving party to show that a genuine issue of material fact exists and that the movant is not entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 250; Triton Energy Corp. v. Square D. Co., 68 F.3d 1216, 1221 (9th Cir. 1995). The nonmovant need not establish a material issue of fact conclusively in his favor. First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288-89 (1968). However, he must “come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v.Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (internal citation and emphasis omitted); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1).

         Conclusory allegations unsupported by factual material are insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989); see also Soremekun v. Thrifty Payless, Inc., 502 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir. 2007) (“[c]onclusory, speculative testimony in affidavits and moving papers is insufficient to raise genuine issues of fact and defeat summary judgment”). Nor can such allegations be the basis for a motion for summary judgment.

         B. Title VII

         Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., (“Title VII”) provides that “[i]t shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer (1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin . . . .” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). In a claim for discrimination pursuant to Title VII, a plaintiff must “offer evidence that ‘give[s] rise to an inference of unlawful discrimination.'” Lowe v. City of Monrovia, 775 F.2d 998, 1005 (9th Cir. 1985), as amended, 784 F.2d 1407 (1986) (quoting Texas Dept. of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 253 (1981)). A plaintiff may prove discrimination by direct ...

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