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Grubb v. Cook Medical Technologies LLC

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

May 29, 2018

MARSHA L. GRUBB, Plaintiff,
v.
COOK MEDICAL TECHNOLOGIES LLC, and PENNY KING Defendant.

          ORDER

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         Presently pending before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Cook Medical Technologies, LLC[1] (“Cook”) and Penny King. [Filing No. 37.] Plaintiff Marsha Grubb alleges that Cook terminated her employment in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and state law. [Filing No. 1.] She further alleges that Ms. King battered her, causing Ms. Grubb severe emotional distress. [Filing No. 1.] Defendants now seek summary judgment on all claims, arguing that Ms. Grubb failed to produce any evidence in support of her claims. [Filing No. 38 at 2.] For the following reasons, the Court grants the Motion for Summary Judgment. [Filing No. 37.]

         I.

         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 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. Williams v. Brooks, 809 F.3d 936, 941-42 (7th Cir. 2016). In other words, while there may be facts that are in dispute, summary judgment is appropriate if those facts are not outcome-determinative. Montgomery v. American Airlines Inc., 626 F.3d 382, 389 (7th Cir. 2010). Fact disputes that are irrelevant to the legal question will not be considered. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (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. Gekas v. Vasilades, 814 F.3d 890, 896 (7th Cir. 2016). 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. Skiba v. Illinois Cent. R.R. Co., 884 F.3d 708, 717 (7th Cir. 2018). It cannot weigh evidence or make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the fact-finder. Miller v. Gonzalez, 761 F.3d 822, 827 (7th Cir. 2014). 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. Grant v. Trustees of Indiana University, 870 F.3d 562, 573-74 (7th Cir. 2017). 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).

         II.

         Background

         Ms. Grubb has not responded to Cook's Motion, and the time to do so has passed. The Court may therefore summarily rule on Cook's Motion, pursuant to Local Rule 7-1(c)(4), as Ms. Grubb's silence results in waiver of any argument in opposition to Cook's Motion. See Bonte v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 624 F.3d 461, 466 (7th Cir. 2010) (“Failure to respond to an argument…results in waiver.”) Furthermore, Ms. Grubb's lack of response means that she concedes Cook's version of events, and the Court resolves the Motion on the evidence submitted by Cook. See Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003) (“Failure to respond by the nonmovant as mandated by the local rules results in an admission.”). The Court continues to apply the above-articulated summary judgment standard, but Ms. Grubb's failure to comply with the Local Rules in this respect “reduc[es] the pool” from which the facts and inferences may be drawn. See Smith v. Severn, 129 F.3d 419, 426 (7th Cir. 1997).

         A. Cook's Policies and Procedures

         Cook is a manufacturer of medical devices located in Bloomington, Indiana. [Filing No. 1 at 3.] Cook contends that it is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate against its employees on the basis of disability. [Filing No. 38 at 2.] It has supplied portions of its employee manual detailing its anti-discrimination policies. The employee manual contains an Equal Employment Opportunity policy which provides that:

Cook is an equal opportunity employer. We believe in the dignity and worth of every individual. We will not discriminate against or favor any employee or applicant, or make any decision or take any action, because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

[Filing No. 37-3 at 2 (emphasis added); Filing No. 37-6 at 6; see Filing No. 37-2 at 5.] Additionally, Cook's employee manual also includes an avenue by which employees may communicate work-related concerns to the appropriate individuals:

Cook encourages employees to communicate with management concerning work- related issues. If an employee has a work-related issue, the employee should bring it to the attention of a personnel advisor, a member of management, or Human Resources. Cook will take the appropriate steps to investigate and resolve the issue.

[Filing No. 37-6 at 8.] Cook's employee manual also provides for the following progressive disciplinary process:

When a rule or policy has been broken, or an employee has exhibited unacceptable behavior, disciplinary action to prevent a recurrence is required. Cook generally recognizes four steps in the disciplinary process:
1. First occurrence: documented verbal warning
2. Second occurrence: written warning
3. Third occurrence: formal written warning
4. Fourth occurrence: suspension without pay or termination
Management reserves the right, at its discretion, to bypass any of the above steps and utilize a higher level of discipline for any given occurrence or accumulation of occurrences. The severity of discipline will depend upon the severity of the occurrence as well as the employee's work history.

[Filing No. 37-6 at 31-32.]

         B. Ms. Grubb's ...


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