United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
PAMELA D. HARRIS, Plaintiff,
CARRIER CORPORATION, Defendant.
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
matter involves Plaintiff Pamela D. Harris's allegations
that Defendant Carrier Corporation
(“Carrier”) retaliated against her for
filing charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Pending
before the Court is Carrier's Motion for Summary
Judgment, [Filing No. 83], in which Carrier contends
that Ms. Harris's claims fail as a matter of law. For the
following reasons, the Court GRANTS
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).
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 suffice to defeat summary
judgment. 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 factfinder
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).
case comes before the Court, there are limited facts that are
relevant to Carrier's Motion. This is because while Ms.
Harris's Amended Complaint alleged five counts of
employment discrimination, [Filing No. 49], she has
cast aside four of her five counts in subsequent filings.
First, Ms. Harris's Statement of Claims, [Filing No.
73], confirmed that she is no longer pursuing her claims
for race and age discrimination. [See also Filing No. 74
at 1 (order in which the Court noted forfeited claims).]
Second, in her response to Carrier's Motion for Summary
Judgment, Ms. Harris further confirmed that she is longer
pursuing her claims for sex and disability discrimination.
[Filing No. 91 at 1.]
lone claim remaining is Ms. Harris's retaliation claim.
The scope of this claim, however, is not entirely clear. Ms.
Harris's response to Carrier's Motion for Summary
Judgment suggests three possible adverse actions that she
claims were taken in retaliation for her EEOC charges:
. Failing to provide Ms. Harris with her
Certificate of Completion of Apprenticeship after Ms. Harris
completed her apprenticeship program,
. Denying Ms. Harris's worker's
compensation claim for not being work-related, and
. After Ms. Harris took medical leave due to
her injuries, denying Ms. Harris a job that would accommodate
reply brief, Carrier contends that none of these theories of
retaliation may proceed for various reasons, including that
that claims contradict Ms. Harris's sworn deposition
testimony as to the basis for her claims, were not included
in Ms. Harris's Amended Complaint, and/or were omitted
from Ms. Harris's Statement of Claims. Carrier argues
that Ms. Harris's response to its Motion for Summary
Judgment is merely an attempt to set a “moving
target” on summary judgment.
approved Case Management Plan in this case, entered as an
Order of the Court, required Ms. Harris to “file a
statement of the claims . . . [she] intends to prove at
trial, stating specifically the legal theories upon
which the claims . . . are based.” [Filing No. 73
at 3 (emphasis added).] The Statement of Claims
requirement in the Uniform Case Management Plan represents
the Court's effort to prevent parties from presenting
“moving targets” to unfairly avoid summary
judgment. See, e.g., Moultrie v. Penn Aluminum
Int'l, LLC, 766 F.3d 747, 753 (7th Cir.
2014) (criticizing a plaintiff for presenting claims that
were “something of a moving target”); Kough
v. Teamsters' Local 301 Pension Plan, 437 F.
App'x 483, 485 (7th Cir. 2011) (“The case was a
moving target for the district court, but it has stopped long
enough for us to take aim here.”); Tauber v. City
of Chi., 33 F.Supp.2d 699, 700 (N.D. Ill. 1999)
(requiring parties to submit issue statement “in an
effort to eliminate the ships-passing-in-the-night
phenomenon”). The Statement of Claims is to be filed
following the close of and as informed by liability
discovery, but before summary judgment motions are filed. The
Statement of Claims should provide each party with a clear
idea of the other's legal theories, enabling the parties
to directly address one another's positions. As the Court
made clear in its Order on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss,
a party may not pursue a claim that it neglects to include in
its Statement of Claims. See [Filing No. 74 at
1 (noting claims forfeited for failure to include in
statement of claims)]; see also, e.g., Dzik v.
Bayer Corp., 846 F.3d 211, 212 (7th Cir. 2017) (per
curiam) (affirming dismissal with prejudice where, among
other things, plaintiff “flouted the requirements of a
Harris's Statement of Claims states that “Carrier
retaliated by denying Harris's worker's compensation
claim for her original injury, and by denying her a
reasonable accommodation for her disabilities.”
[Filing No. 73 at 4.] Nowhere, however, does it
mention the certificate withholding theory, which appeared
for the first time in Ms. Harris's response brief. At
each turn in this litigation, whenever Ms. Harris has been
faced with arguments demonstrating that a claim may lack
merit, Ms. Harris has abandoned the claim and substituted a
new one in its stead. The Court will ...