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Hoenstine v. City of Indianapolis Police Dep't

January 8, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard L. Young, Judge United States District Court Southern District of Indiana


Plaintiff, Phyllis Hoenstine, filed this action against her employer, the City of Indianapolis Police Department ("IPD" or the "department"), alleging gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. IPD now moves for summary judgment. For the reasons explained below, the court GRANTS the motion.

I. Summary Judgment Standard

The purpose of summary judgment is to "pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Summary judgment is appropriate if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).

A genuine issue of material fact exists if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict in favor of the non-moving party on the particular issue. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Eiland v. Trinity Hosp., 150 F.3d 747, 750 (7th Cir. 1998).

On a motion for summary judgment, the burden rests with the moving party to demonstrate "that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). After the moving party demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue for trial, the responsibility shifts to the non-movant to "go beyond the pleadings" and point to evidence of a genuine factual dispute precluding summary judgment. Id. at 322-23. "If the non-movant does not come forward with evidence that would reasonably permit the finder of fact to find in her favor on a material question, then the court must enter summary judgment against her." Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920 (7th Cir. 1994) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 585-87; Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-24; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-52.

II. Evidentiary Objections

Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that IPD discriminated against her because of her gender. (Amended Complaint ¶ 9). "Specifically, IPD has regularly transferred male lieutenants with less time in service, less time in grade, and with otherwise less experience to positions that Plaintiff has applied for and been denied." (Amended Complaint ¶ 10). In her Response brief, Plaintiff discusses a number of issues that were not raised in her Complaint. First, she alleges that IPD's failure to post positions or its use of the chief of police's administrative discretion was discriminatory. Second, she alleges violations of a federal consent decree between the City of Indianapolis and the U.S. Department of Justice. Third, she alleges that she was denied training opportunities or that her duties were taken away from her because of her gender. Issues not raised on a plaintiff's complaint may not be presented for the first time in a brief in opposition to a motion for summary judgment. Framsted v. Municipal Ambulance Service, 347 F.Supp.2d 638, 652 (W.D. Wisc. 2004) (citing Griffin v. Potter, 356 F.3d 824, 830 (7th Cir. 2004)); see also Whitaker v. T.J. Snow Co., 151 F.3d 661, 664 (7th Cir. 1998). Therefore, the court will limit its focus to the issue of whether Plaintiff was denied her requests for lateral transfers because of her gender.

IPD also moves to strike ¶¶ 9, 10, 12, 13, and 18 of Plaintiff's affidavit. IPD argues that these paragraphs contain statements allegedly made by IPD officers, and should be stricken as inadmissible hearsay. The court generally agrees. But even if these statements were not hearsay, they are precluded by the statute of limitations (see below). Accordingly, the court hereby strikes ¶¶ 9, 10, 12, 13, and 18 of Plaintiff's affidavit.

In addition, IPD moves to strike ¶¶ 4, 6, and 7 of the affidavit of Plaintiff's husband, Sgt. John Hoenstine, on grounds that these paragraphs contain inadmissible hearsay. The court agrees. Moreover, the statements made by Lieutenant Michael Price, in which he told Hoenstine "that the reason [his] wife wasn't getting the transfer positions she sought was because she was a woman," see ¶ 4, is not material because Lieutenant Price was never in a position to be able to preclude or permit Plaintiff's transfers. The court also finds that ¶¶ 6 and 7, in which Hoenstine alleges he was denied a promotion as a result of Plaintiff's grievance, is contrary to Plaintiff's deposition testimony. Indeed, Plaintiff admitted that Hoenstine was not promoted because the promotion list containing his name expired. (Plaintiff Dep. at 78). Accordingly, the court strikes ¶¶ 4, 6, and 7 of Hoenstine's affidavit. Finally, IPD argues that only two of the allegations regarding her denial of transfer claim are timely; those being the June 2004 training academy position given to Lieutenant Charles Briley and the November 2004 Planning and Research Section Supervisor position given to Lieutenant Michael Luckett.

It is well-settled that a plaintiff must file an EEOC charge within 300 days of the alleged unlawful employment practice. Kruger v. Principi, 420 F.Supp.2d 896, 906 (N.D. Ill. 2006). Her EEOC charge of discrimination was filed on September 2, 2004. (Defendant's Ex. 17). Thus, the allegations of denials of transfers in 2000 and 2002 are outside the scope of the statute of limitations. Accordingly, the court's opinion will only address those allegations which are timely.

III. Factual Background

A. Plaintiff's Employment with IPD

1. Plaintiff began her employment with IPD on July 29, 1983. (Amended Complaint ¶ 7).

2. Plaintiff received her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration in 2004, and has attended approximately 95 separate training courses covering traditional law enforcement subjects and more specialized subjects such as obscenity and the law, counter-intelligence, child sexual abuse, and the like. (Plaintiff Dep. at 25-26; Plaintiff's Ex. 21).

3. On May 17, 2000, after her successful completion of IPD's promotion process, she was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. (Plaintiff Dep. at 20).

4. Upon her promotion to lieutenant, she was assigned to the position of Late Shift Supervisor, North District. (Plaintiff Dep. at 22).

5. At the time Plaintiff was promoted to lieutenant, there were eight other employees promoted. Of the eight people, two of them were female. (Plaintiff Dep. at 21).

6. In August 2000, Deputy Chief Reardon, a commanding officer, approached Plaintiff and asked her if she would be interested in the position of Neighborhood Resource Officer ("NRO") Detective Lieutenant. She accepted the offer, and remained in that position until January 2003. (Plaintiff Dep. at 19).

7. In August 2001, Chief Deputy Bill Reardon approached Plaintiff and offered her the position of Field Lieutenant for the Weed & Seed/Community Policing unit. The Weed & Seed/Community Policing unit was one of three units in the NRO position. Plaintiff accepted the assignment. (Defendant's Ex. 4; Plaintiff Dep. at 15-17).

8. On January 18, 2003, Chief Deputy Reardon offered Plaintiff the position of North District Detective Lieutenant, and she accepted. (Defendant's Ex. 4; Plaintiff Dep. at 11-12).

9. On December 29, 2003, Plaintiff submitted two Requests to Transfer into the positions of Training Section Supervisor ("Training Supervisor") and Planning and Research Section Supervisor. (Defendant's Exs. 11, 12).

10. Neither of these positions were vacant at the time of her requests and did not become vacant until June 2004 and January 2005, ...

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