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Terry v. Gary Community School Corp.

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

January 8, 2018

GLORIA D. TERRY, Plaintiff,
v.
GARY COMMUNITY SCHOOL CORPORATION, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN E. MARTIN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment [DE 94], filed by Defendant Gary Community School Corporation on October 20, 2017. For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

         I. Procedural Background

         On April 4, 2015, Plaintiff Gloria D. Terry filed her Complaint. On May 5, 2015, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint, and on August 17, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint. In her Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that she was discriminated against on the basis of her gender when she was transferred to assistant principal positions after the school where she served as principal was closed and when she was not appointed to fill an available principal position that instead went to a male candidate. The Second Amended Complaint includes a discrimination claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an unequal pay claim under the Equal Pay Act, equal protection and due process claims under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and a claim under the Indiana Open Door Act. On June 7, 2016, District Court Judge Theresa L. Springmann granted Plaintiff's Partial Motion for Summary Judgment and entered judgment in her favor on the Open Door Act claim. On October 20, 2017, Defendant filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment on the remaining claims. Plaintiff filed a response on November 16, 2017, and Defendant filed a reply on November 30, 2017.

         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©.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure mandate that motions for summary judgment be granted “if the movant shows that 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. Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 16 F.3d 832, 836 (7th Cir. 1994) (citations and quotations omitted).

         A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56©. The moving party may discharge its initial responsibility by simply “‘showing' - that is, pointing out to the district court - that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. When the nonmoving party would have the burden of proof at trial, the moving party is not required to support its motion with affidavits or other similar materials negating the opponent's claim. Id. at 323, 325; Green v. Whiteco Indus., Inc., 17 F.3d 199, 201 n.3 (7th Cir. 1994); Fitzpatrick v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago, 916 F.2d 1254, 1256 (7th Cir. 1990). However, the moving party, if it chooses, may support its motion for summary judgment with affidavits or other materials, and, if the moving party has “produced sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that there are no genuine issues for trial, ” then the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to show that an issue of material fact exists. Becker v. Tenenbaum-Hill Assoc., 914 F.2d 107, 110-111 (7th Cir. 1990) (citations omitted); see also Hong v. Children's Mem'l Hosp., 993 F.2d 1257, 1261 (7th Cir. 1993).

         Once a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the non-moving party cannot resist the motion and withstand summary judgment by merely resting on its pleadings. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Donovan v. City of Milwaukee, 17 F.3d 944, 947 (7th Cir. 1994). Rule 56(e) provides that “[i]f a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may . . . consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion [or] grant summary judgment if the motion and supporting materials - including the facts considered undisputed - show that the movant is entitled to it . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2), (3); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-50 (1986). Thus, to demonstrate a genuine issue of fact, the nonmoving party must “do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, ” but must “come forward with ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)) (emphasis in original).

         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 Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 255; 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 Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-50.

         III. Material Facts

         Plaintiff was employed by Defendant school district from 1980 until her retirement in 2015. From approximately 2002 through mid-2014, she served as the principal of Brunswick Elementary School. The district saw steep declines in enrollment which led Defendant to close several schools, including Brunswick, which was closed at the end of the 2013-2014 school year. Teachers were laid off, and principals were assigned to other administrative roles within the school district. Plaintiff applied for an open position as principal at Marquette Elementary School, as did another female candidate.[1] Sheldon Cain had served as assistant principal and acting principal at Marquette, and was the interim principal there during the 2013-2014 school year.

         The school district selected Mr. Cain to serve as Marquette's principal for the 2014-2015 school year. Meanwhile, Defendant transferred Plaintiff to assistant principal positions, first at Jefferson Elementary School, then at Marquette, where she served under Mr. Cain. Plaintiff's salary and benefits did not decrease as a result of either transfer, with her salary remaining at $84, 308, the same amount she had been paid when she was principal at Brunswick. However, Mr. Cain was paid $85, 986 during his time as principal. A district representative testified that, had she been appointed principal at Marquette, Plaintiff would have received the higher salary. Salaries had been frozen since 2009, due to the ongoing financial crisis in the school district.

         On or about October 13, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which in turn issued a Dismissal and Notice of Rights on January 27, 2015. On February 25, 2015, Defendant sent Plaintiff a non-renewal notice which indicated that the school district did not intend to renew her contract as an administrator, leaving her the option to retire or to return to the classroom as a teacher. To preserve her benefits, Plaintiff elected to retire at the end of the 2014-2015 school year. Mr. Cain had also received non-renewal notices in June 2006 and January 2012. In January 2015, Mr. Cain ...


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