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Kubsch v. Indiana State Police

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

March 28, 2017

JUDITH A. KUBSCH, Plaintiff,
v.
INDIANA STATE POLICE, Defendant,

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN E. MARTIN, MAGISTRATE JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiff's Hostile Work Environment Claim [DE 92], filed by Defendant on August 1, 2016.[1] Defendant requests that the Court enter judgment in its favor on Plaintiff's hostile work environment claim. On September 9, 2016, Plaintiff filed a response, and on October 7, 2016, Defendant filed a reply.

         On August 8, 2015, the parties filed forms of consent to have this case assigned to a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all further proceedings and to order the entry of a final judgment in this case. Therefore, this Court has jurisdiction to decide this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

         I. Background

         Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on July 15, 2011, alleging sex discrimination and retaliation claims under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against her employer, Defendant Indiana State Police. On February 2, 2013, Defendant filed its first Motion for Summary Judgment, asking that the Court enter judgment in Defendant's favor on Plaintiff's claims. On November 3, 2014, the undersigned Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation, recommending that Judge James T. Moody dismiss Plaintiff's sex discrimination and retaliation claims. The undersigned also found that Plaintiff had adequately pleaded a third claim for relief - a hostile work environment claim - that had not been fully briefed on summary judgment. Accordingly, the undersigned recommended that Judge Moody deny Defendant's motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's hostile work environment claim. Judge Moody adopted the undersigned's Report and Recommendation, and Plaintiff's hostile work environment survived.

         Thereafter, Plaintiff disputed which claims survived the Court's summary judgment order. After clarifying that only Plaintiff's hostile work environment claim remained, the Court ordered the parties to brief the issue of whether that claim might appropriately be resolved by summary judgment.

         II. Standard of Review

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure mandate that motions for summary judgment be granted “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). Rule 56 further requires the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery, against a party “who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). “[S]ummary judgment is appropriate - in fact, is mandated - where there are no disputed issues of material fact and the movant must prevail as a matter of law. In other words, the record must reveal that no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party.” Dempsey v. Atchinson, Topeka, & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 16 F.3d 832, 836 (7th Cir. 1994) (citations and quotations omitted).

         In viewing the facts presented on a motion for summary judgment, a court must construe all facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all legitimate inferences in favor of that party. See Andreson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Srail v. Vill. of Lisle, 588 F.3d 940, 948 (7th Cir. 2009); NLFC, Inc. v. Devcom Mid-Am., Inc., 45 F.3d 231, 234 (7th Cir. 1995). A court's role is not to evaluate the weight of the evidence, to judge the credibility of witnesses, or to determine the truth of the matter, but instead to determine whether there is a genuine issue of triable fact. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50.

         III. Undisputed Facts

         The relevant, agreed facts of this case have changed little since the Court's Report & Recommendation on Defendant's previous summary judgment motion. Accordingly, the Court only briefly details the facts relevant to Plaintiff's hostile work environment claim.

         Plaintiff works as a master trooper for the Indiana State Police Department. On March 3, 2009, Plaintiff's superiors referred her for a mental health fitness for duty evaluation due to public complaints. While the fitness for duty evaluation was pending, Plaintiff was reassigned to administrative duties within the Indiana State Police Department. On August 13, 2009, Plaintiff's superiors referred her for a second fitness for duty evaluation, and in October 2010, Plaintiff received a written employee counseling form for inappropriate communication over a mobile data terminal system. In another incident, Plaintiff's fellow officer accused her of shirking her duties over the police radio.

         Plaintiff asserts that her gender was the true cause of the fitness for duty evaluations and counseling form. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, women are 2 to 3 times more likely to be referred for fitness for duty evaluations than men, and women are referred for evaluations for less serious infractions than men.

         IV. ...


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