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Park v. City of Carmel

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

March 24, 2015

GREG PARK, Plaintiff,

For GREG PARK, Plaintiff: Kimberly D. Jeselskis, JESELSKIS LAW OFFICES, LLC, Indianapolis, IN.

For CITY OF CARMEL, Defendant: James S. Stephenson, Wayne E. Uhl, STEPHENSON MOROW & SEMLER, Indianapolis, IN.

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

Plaintiff Greg Park brought the instant suit against Defendant City of Carmel, Indiana (" Carmel" ), alleging that Carmel violated his rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (" Title VII" ). Mr. Park was previously employed by Carmel as a Police Officer, but Carmel terminated his employment. Mr. Park sued Carmel in a separate lawsuit, alleging that his termination was the result of unlawful race discrimination. During the pendency of that suit, Mr. Park applied to work as a Court Security Office at the Federal Courthouse in Indianapolis. As part of the background check for employment as a Court Security Officer, the United State Marshal Service requested information from Carmel regarding Mr. Park's previous employment as a Carmel Police Officer. In the instant suit, Mr. Park alleges that Carmel illegally retaliated against him for suing it for racial discrimination by intentionally delaying its response to the United State Marshal Service's request for information. Presently pending before the Court is Carmel's Motion for Summary Judgment. [Filing No. 32.] For the reasons explained below, Carmel's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.


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

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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 non-moving 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).


Evidentiary Objections & Factual Background

A. Evidentiary Objections

Carmel objects to three categories of evidence from Mr. Park's declaration. One of these categories--evidence that Mr. Park was going to be hired as a CSO--is irrelevant to the Court's analysis and ultimate decision and therefore need not be ruled upon. The Court sustains Carmel's other two objections on the grounds that they constitute inadmissible hearsay.

Hearsay is " a statement that . . . a party offers in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted." Fed.R.Evid. 801(c)(2). " And hearsay is inadmissible in summary judgment proceedings to the same extent that it is inadmissible in a trial, except that affidavits and depositions,

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which (especially affidavits) are not generally admissible at trial, are admissible in summary judgment proceedings to establish the truth of what is attested or deposed, provided, of course, that the affiant's or deponent's testimony would be admissible if he were testifying live." Eisenstadt v. Centel Corp., 113 F.3d 738, 742 (7th Cir. 1997); see MMG Fin. Corp. v. Midwest Amusements Park, LLC, 630 F.3d 651, 656 (7th Cir. 2011) (" A party may not rely on inadmissible hearsay to avoid summary judgment." ).

First, Carmel argues that Mr. Park's statements reciting Judicial Security Inspector Robert Jackson's (" JSI Jackson" ) statements to Mr. Park in a phone conversation on August 7 or 8, 2012 are hearsay. [Filing No. 41 at 3.] In his declaration, Mr. Park relays several comments JSI Jackson made to him regarding JSI Jackson's communications with Carmel. Mr. Park relies on these statements as evidence of how Carmel was handling JSI Jackson's request for Mr. Park's personnel file--that is, to prove the truth of the matter asserted. [Filing No. 40 at 23-24.] Accordingly, this evidence constitutes inadmissible hearsay. See Fed.R.Evid. 801(c)(2). Carmel's objection to this evidence is SUSTAINED, and the Court will not consider this evidence in ruling on Carmel's Motion for Summary Judgment.

Second, Carmel objects to Mr. Park's statements regarding conversations Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer Bill Miller had with Carmel police officers as part of a background investigation. [Filing No. 41 at 3.] Mr. Park attests in his declaration that Officer Miller told Mr. Park that Officer Miller spoke with police officers from Carmel regarding Mr. Park's employment as a Carmel Police Officer. [Filing No. 39-1 at 7.] Again, Mr. Park relies on Officer Miller's out-of-court statements to prove the content of his communications with the police officers from Car-mel, making these statement hearsay. See ...

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