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EEOC v. U.S. Dry Cleaning Services Corp.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

June 4, 2014

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. DRY CLEANING SERVICES CORPORATION d/b/a TUCHMAN CLEANERS, Defendant

Page 783

For EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff: Aarika D. Mack-Brown, Laurie A. Young, Michelle Eisele, EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Indianapolis, IN; Jo Ann Farnsworth, EEOC, Indianapolis, IN.

For U.S. DRY CLEANING SERVICES CORPORATION, doing business as TUCHMAN CLEANERS, Defendant: Kathleen Ann DeLaney, Mark J. Plantan, DELANEY & DELANEY LLC, Indianapolis, IN.

OPINION

Page 784

ORDER

Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ) brings this race discrimination suit against Defendant U.S. Dry Cleaning Services Corporation d/b/a Tuchman Cleaners (" USDC" ), alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended, 42 U.S.C. § § 2000e et seq. (" Title VII" ) and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. [Filing No. 1.] Currently pending before the Court is USDC's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment which seeks an entry of judgment in favor of USDC on the EEOC's punitive damage claim. [Filing No. 54.] For the reasons that follow, the Court DENIES USDC's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment.

I.

Summary Judgment Standard of Review

A motion for summary judgment asks the Court to find that a trial is unnecessary because there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and, instead, the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). As the

Page 785

current version of Rule 56 makes clear, whether a party asserts that a fact is undisputed or genuinely disputed, the party must support the asserted fact by citing to particular parts of the record, including depositions, documents, or affidavits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). A party can also support a fact by showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute or that the adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). Affidavits or declarations must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant is competent to testify on matters stated. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). Failure to properly support a fact in opposition to a movant's factual assertion can result in the movant's fact being considered undisputed, and potentially in the grant of summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court need only consider disputed facts that are material to the decision. A disputed fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Hampton v. Ford Motor Co., 561 F.3d 709, 713 (7th Cir. 2009). In other words, while there may be facts that are in dispute, summary judgment is appropriate if those facts are not outcome determinative. Harper v. Vigilant Ins. Co., 433 F.3d 521, 525 (7th Cir. 2005). Fact disputes that are irrelevant to the legal question will not be considered. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

On summary judgment, a party must show the Court what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of the events. Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., 325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2003). The moving party is entitled to summary judgment if no reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 875 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court views the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Darst v. Interstate Brands Corp., 512 F.3d 903, 907 (7th Cir. 2008). It cannot weigh evidence or make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the fact-finder. O'Leary v. Accretive Health, Inc., 657 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court need only consider the cited materials, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3), and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has " repeatedly assured the district courts that they are not required to scour every inch of the record for evidence that is potentially relevant to the summary judgment motion before them," Johnson, 325 F.3d at 898. Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Ponsetti v. GE Pension Plan, 614 F.3d 684, 691 (7th Cir. 2010).

II.

Background

The following facts are stated consistent with the foregoing standard, that is, with all reasonable inferences in favor of the EEOC. Mr. Brisco Palmer (" Palmer" ) was hired at the Tuchman Dry Cleaners Zionsville Location (" Tuchman Zionsville" ) in 2006. [Filing No. 57-7 at 3.] In 2008, USDC purchased Tuchman Dry Cleaners (" Tuchman" ) and became Mr. Palmer's employer. [Filing No. 56-3 at 7.] From August 28, 2006, until June 14, 2011, Mr. Palmer was officially hired as a dry cleaning presser. [Filing No. 57-3 at 3; Filing No. 57-7 at 3-8.] On May 19, 2011, Mr. Palmer filed a charge of race discrimination with the EEOC alleging that USDC failed to promote him to the position of assistant manager at Tuchman Zionsville

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because of his race-African American. [Filing No. 56-6 at 7.]

Ms. Tonya Wentzel (" Wentzel" ) was the store manager at Tuchman Zionsville during all relevant times. [Filing No. 57-6 at 4.] Mr. Alex Cvetkovich (" Cvetkovich" ) was the district manager covering Tuchman Zionsville during all relevant times and was Ms. Wentzel's immediate supervisor. [Filing No. 57-5 at 3; Filing No. 57-6 at 7.] Mr. James Dunn (" Dunn" ) was the regional manager at USDC from October 2008-June 2011, [Filing No. 56-3 at 7], ...


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