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Addie v. Career Academy of South Bend, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

March 27, 2019

CHADWICK ADDIE, Plaintiff,
v.
CAREER ACADEMY OF SOUTH BEND, INC., et al. Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JON E. DEGUILIO, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Chadwick Addie lost his job as director of development for a charter school when it eliminated his position. The school says it cut his position (along with other positions and costs) to balance its budget. Mr. Addie claims that explanation was false. The real reasons, he claims, were age discrimination and retaliation. He has not provided evidence from which a jury could draw such an inference, though. The Court thus grants summary judgment.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The Court must begin with a comment about a party's obligations in responding to a motion for summary judgment. Under Rule 56, a party must “cit[e] to particular parts of materials in the record” in support of its arguments. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). That rule means what it says. A party does not satisfy that requirement by attaching exhibits to a brief, or by referring in general to large portions of the record; a party's brief must cite to particular parts of the record to support each fact on which it relies. Packer v. Trs. of Ind. Univ. Sch. of Med., 800 F.3d 843, 850 (7th Cir. 2015) (“It is not the court's role or obligation to read an entire deposition or affidavit in an effort to locate the particular testimony a party might be relying on; the court ought to know what portion of a witness's testimony the party is invoking so that it can focus its attention on that testimony and assess whether it is admissible and actually supports the fact or inference for which it is cited.”); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(3) (“The court need consider only the cited materials[.]”); Sommerfield v. City of Chi., 863 F.3d 645, 650 (7th Cir. 2017) (noting that Rule 56 “requires [a party] to identify the relevant facts, ” and that the “judge rightly declined to wade through the voluminous record to find evidence on a counseled plaintiff's behalf”).

         Mr. Addie's brief fails to meet that requirement in many instances. For example, the following two paragraphs are representative of much of the factual section of his brief:

Addie, Fine, and Foster had specific duties, not just titles, that simply could not be eliminated at an a[c]credited school in the State of Indiana. Schlottman gave these duties to Braun, Cebra, Darwish, Davis, Hammel, Walker, and Manno.
Hammel, hired in October of 2014, was still teaching engineering classes in February of 2015. Unlike Addie, Hammel had no license, experience, or qualifications in Indiana to administrate CASB. CASB eventually made Hammel Superintendent and paid him $78, 000, which was more than what Addie made when he was in charge of the school. (Px21; Px22; Px24; Px29; Pxs 35-47).

[DE 31 p. 12]. The first paragraph has no citations at all. The second paragraph is followed by a string-cite that refers to a total of seventeen exhibits, which collectively span over 450 pages. That does not suffice. The Court need not scour the record to determine which parts of those materials support those assertions.

         Elsewhere in the statement of facts, Mr. Addie offers entire paragraphs that consist of nothing but citations, with no explanation of what purpose the materials are being cited for. For example, one paragraph reads as follows:

(Px40: 14-15, 17, 18, 61, 68-75, 77, 79, 80-84, 86-89, 92-102, 105, 107-109, 111-127, 132-138, 140, 142-144, 146-147 149-174-177, 189, 208, 212, 215, 224-225, 232-243, 249-281; Px43: 25, 30, 33-34, 36, 40-42, 50-51, 58-59, 61-62, 64, 66-93, 98-99, 101-112, 115-132, 135-138, 140-146, 151-165; Px44: 10, 20, 22, 24-25, 29, 35-51, 55-57, 60-74; Px41: 4-6, 9-16, 20-23, 30-36, 40-60, 68-73, 75, 86-91; Px42: 12, 17, 30-45, 49).

[DE 31 p. 14]. Without identifying the specific facts that Mr. Addie relies on in that mass of exhibits, that is no better than simply attaching those exhibits to a brief. Also, many of the deposition pages cited in that paragraph are not even part of the record. With that understanding, the Court addresses the motion on the basis of the facts that have been properly presented.

         Career Academy School Corporation operates charter schools in South Bend, Indiana. In August 2011, it opened Career Academy of South Bend as a middle school with grades 7 through 9. Two years later, it expanded to a middle school with grades 6 through 8, and a high school with grades 9 through 12. In 2015, it opened another charter school, Success Academy of South Bend, with Kindergarten through 5th grade. Career Academy was founded by Lawrence Garatoni. In addition to being the school's founder and benefactor, Mr. Garatoni served as president of its board of directors. Along with his wife and their foundation, Mr. Garatoni contributed tens of millions of dollars towards purchasing and renovating their buildings and funding their operating expenses. Over the years, Mr. Garatoni forgave many of the loans he provided to the schools, but his goal was for the schools to become self-sufficient. The schools received funding from the state for each student that enrolled, and Mr. Garatoni desired for those revenues to at least cover the schools' operating expenses. The schools ran at a loss in their early years, though.

         Chad Addie began his employment with Career Academy in 2011, when it was just beginning. His position at that time was Educational Manager, which was similar to an assistant principal position. Mr. Addie was 48 years old when he started. He had degrees in psychology and counseling and human services. He had also earned a post-graduate degree in school administration, and he had an Indiana building administrator license. In October 2013, Career Academy's principal resigned, and at Mr. Garatoni's request, Mr. Addie stepped into that position until it could be filled permanently. Mr. Garatoni also asked Mr. Addie to apply for the position full time. Mr. Addie decided, though, that he preferred to focus on recruiting students instead of assuming management over the school. He thus recommended a principal with whom he had worked at a previous school, Paul Schlottman, who was offered and accepted the position. Mr. Schlottman began in December 2013, at which time Mr. Addie returned to his previous position. Mr. Schlottman was 46 years old at that time, and was about 3 years younger than Mr. Addie.

         In early 2014, Mr. Addie discussed with Mr. Schlottman that he wanted to focus on school development, including public relations, fundraising, and recruiting new students. In mid-2014, they created a new position for him, entitled Director of Development, in which those functions became his focus, with a particular emphasis on student recruitment.[1] Mr. Addie was very successful in that aspect of his job. When he started with Career Academy, it had 160 students. Enrollment nearly doubled each year, and by the 2015-16 school year, Career Academy's enrollment exceeded 1, 000 students, which was near its capacity. In support of that expansion, Career Academy had also hired numerous new employees.

         In September 2015, Career Academy's finance committee met to review its budget for the year. The committee included Mr. Garatoni, Mr. Schlottman, and others. By that time, the school knew how many students had enrolled for the year. Since the state's payments to the school were based on the number of students, that meant that Career Academy also knew at that point what its revenues would be for the year. Based on those figures, the budget summary showed that Career Academy's operating expenses would exceed its operating revenues by approximately $240, 000. Accordingly, Mr. Garatoni instructed Mr. Schlottman that the school needed to reduce its expenses by that amount in order to break even. Mr. Garatoni told Mr. Schlottman that he should consider a reduction in force that would least affect the teaching of the students.

         In response, Mr. Schlottman proposed a package of cuts that would reduce Career Academy's expenses by that amount. First, he proposed eliminating three positions: Mr. Addie's Director of Development position, a Director of Student Services position, and a teacher's aide position. Second, Mr. Schlottman proposed reducing his own salary by three percent and making cuts to employee bonuses. Finally, he proposed other cost-cutting measures like changing the school's cell phone and internet provider. Mr. Schlottman and Mr. Garatoni believed that it was appropriate to include Mr. Addie's position in those cuts because he was not involved in teaching, and because with enrollment near capacity, it was no longer necessary to devote so many resources to ...


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