United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge
Plaintiff Dashon Smith worked for many years as a laboratory
technician with Defendant IU Health, until her employment was
terminated in November 2014. This case arises from that
termination, which Ms. Smith alleges occurred in violation of
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a) (“Title VII”). IU
Health has moved for summary judgment on Ms. Smith's
claims, arguing that she has failed to allege any race-based
motive for her termination. For the reasons that follow, the
Court grants IU Health's Motion.
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 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.
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 (1986).
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).
following statement of facts was evaluated pursuant to the
standards set forth above, that is, they are either
undisputed or presented in the light most favorable to Ms.
Smith is an African-American woman. [Filing No. 23-2 at 30.]
Ms. Smith began working for IU Health as a laboratory
assistant in May 2001. [Filing No. 23-1 at 5.] She was
promoted to senior laboratory assistant and then to clinical
laboratory technician in 2011 in IU Health's pathology
laboratory. [Filing No. 23-1 at 5.] Ms. Smith worked the
night shift, and she reported to Coordinator for Specimen
Processing Lichelle Boyd-Peppler, who worked the day shift.
[Filing No. 23-1 at 6.] Margaret Gilbert was the Team Lead
for the night shift clinical laboratory technicians. [Filing
No. 23-1 at 6.]
July 2013, Ms. Boyd-Peppler complained to Ms. Smith regarding
an issue that Ms. Boyd-Peppler was having with another
employee, Tracy Frost. [Filing No. 23-1 at 11.] During that
conversation, Ms. Boyd-Peppler stated that she wanted to
“slap” Ms. Frost. [Filing No. 23-1 at 11.]
Another employee, Jayme Jones, overheard that comment.
[Filing No. 23-1 at 11.] Shortly thereafter, Ms. Jones spoke
to Jim McGown, Director of Laboratory Outreach of the
pathology laboratory, about Ms. Boyd-Peppler's comment.
[Filing No. 23-1 at 14.] Mr. McGown then approached Ms. Smith
to discuss the comment. [Filing No. 23-1 at 14.] Ms. Smith
informed Mr. McGown that she heard Ms. Boyd-Peppler make the
comment, and that while Ms. Smith was not offended by it, she
understood that Ms. Jones might have been
bothered. Ms. Smith does not recall whether anyone
discussed any issues regarding race during that meeting.
[Filing No. 23-1 at 15.]
Smith does not know whether Mr. McGown told Ms. Boyd-Peppler
about either their meeting or about what Ms. Smith said, but
she testified that after the meeting with Mr. McGown, Ms.
Boyd-Peppler became “cold” toward her. [Filing
No. 23-1 at 15.] Ms. Smith testified that Ms. Boyd-Peppler
would no longer engage in casual conversation with her on the
few occasions that their work schedules overlapped. [Filing
No. 23-1 at 11.] Ms. Smith also testified that Ms.
Boyd-Peppler behaved unprofessionally by bringing personal
issues into work, [Filing No. 23-1 at 11], and by
demonstrating favoritism toward certain employees, [Filing
No. 23-1 at 13].
October 1, 2014, Ms. Smith and Ms. Gilbert became involved in
a dispute regarding which person should have signed for a
courier delivery. [Filing No. 23-1 at 20-21.] During that
dispute, Ms. Smith testified that Ms. Gilbert “ran
behind [Ms. Smith's] chair” into her personal
space, and as a result, Ms. Smith called security. [Filing
No. 23-1 at 21.] Before security arrived, Ms. Gilbert called
Ms. Boyd-Peppler at home, and on speakerphone, they all
discussed the proper procedures for accepting deliveries.
[Filing No. 23-1 at 21.] After security arrived, Ms. Gilbert
again called Ms. Boyd-Peppler and handed the phone to Greg
Hilliard, the night supervisor for medical technologists.
[Filing No. 23-1 at 21-22.] Mr. Hilliard informed Ms. Smith
that Ms. Boyd-Peppler told him to send Ms. Smith home, and
Ms. Smith went home. [Filing No. 23-1 at 21.] Ms.
Boyd-Peppler later issued a written warning to Ms. Smith,
stating that she should “communicate professionally and
effectively, ” which Ms. Smith refused to sign. ...