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Hollars v. Roadhouse Host, LLC

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

January 30, 2019



         In 2018, John Garrett Hollars brought suit against his former employer - Roadhouse Host LLC, a franchise of Texas Roadhouse Development Corporation (hereinafter, “Texas Roadhouse”)- for terminating his employment after he alleged that a coworker raped him. Although a number of motions are currently pending in this case, the Court now considers a pending Motion for Summary Judgment that, if granted, would be dispositive in this matter. [Filing No. 58.] In addition, the Court considers a Motion for Sanctions pursuant to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. [Filing No. 69.]

         I. Motion For Summary Judgment

         A. Legal Standard

         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).

         B. Background

         On April 14, 2016, Mr. Hollars filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) “alleging Texas Roadhouse discriminated against him based upon race, color, and sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to respond to his complaints of being sexually harassed by a co-worker, John Bryant.” [Filing No. 60 at 4.]

         On November 2, 2017, the EEOC issued Mr. Hollars notice of his right to sue, [Filing No. 60 at 15], which he received six days later on November 8, 2017, [Filing No. 50 at 2]. On November 14, 2017, Mr. Hollars faxed a copy of the notice of his right to sue to his then-counsel Cody Cogswell. [Filing No. 50 at 2.]

         On February 12, 2018, Mr. Hollars filed suit in Madison Circuit Court, [Filing No. 1-1 at 1], alleging, among other things, discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, [Filing No. 1-1 at 4]. On April 13, 2018, Texas Roadhouse removed Mr. Hollars' suit to this Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction, with supplemental jurisdiction over Mr. Hollars' state law claims. [Filing No. 1.]

         After the Court dismissed several of Mr. Hollars' claims, [Filing No. 31], and his counsel withdrew from the case, [Filing No. 34; Filing No. 44], Mr. Hollars, now proceeding pro se, filed a Motion for Summary Judgement. [Filing No. 56.] The next day, Texas Roadhouse filed its own Motion for Summary Judgment, in which it argued that Mr. Hollars' claims are time-barred. [Filing No. 58.] On November 30, 2018, the Court stayed the deadline for Texas Roadhouse to file its response to Mr. Hollars' Motion for Summary Judgment, pending the outcome of Texas Roadhouse's Motion for Summary Judgment. [Filing No. 66 at 1.]

         Texas Roadhouse's Motion for Summary Judgment is now fully briefed and is ripe for the Court's review. [Filing No. 58.]

         C. Discussion

         In support of its Motion for Summary Judgment, Texas Roadhouse argues that Mr. Hollars' claim is “clearly time-barred.” [Filing No. 59 at 3.] Specifically, Texas Roadhouse argues that Mr. Hollars filed his claim 96 days after he received notice of his right to sue, putting him outside of the 90-day window established by statute. [Filing No. 59 at 3.] Texas Roadhouse ...

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