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Doss v. St. Claire Medical Center, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Ashland

March 14, 2014

BERTHA M. DOSS, Plaintiff,
v.
ST. CLAIRE MEDICAL CENTER, INC. d/b/a ST. CLAIRE REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HENRY R. WILHOIT, Jr., District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon Defendant's St. Claire Medical Center, Inc. d/b/a St. Claire Regional Medical Center's Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket No. 24]. The motion has been fully briefed by the parties [Docket Nos. 24-1, 27 and 29] and, for the reason set forth below, the Court finds that Defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Bertha Doss was hired by Defendant St. Claire Medical Center, Inc. d/b/a St. Claire Regional Medical Center ("St. Claire") on May 5, 2009 as a Chief Certified Nurse Anesthetist ("CRNA"). Upon her hiring, Plaintiff entered into an Employment Agreement with St. Claire which permitted either party to terminate the Agreement "without cause by giving not less than ninety (90) days' prior written notice of termination to the other party..." [Exhibit to Deposition of Bertha Doss, Docket No. 15-7, ¶ 1]. The Agreement also allowed St. Claire to terminate for cause without any notice requirement. Id. at ¶ 9.

St. Claire terminated Plaintiffs Employment Agreement without cause by giving her the required notice. By letter dated March 21, 2011 St. Claire's Vice President of Administration, Travis Bailey, notified Plaintiff that her last day of employment would be June 18, 2011 [Exhibit to Deposition of Bertha Doss, Docket No. 15-27].

In the letter, Mr. Bailey stated that Plaintiff had not met St. Claire's expectations. He states "[t]hese concerns include but are not limited to repeated poor student interaction, ineffective leadership skills, not acting in a harmonious manner to staff and failure to effectively evaluate and supervise staff." Id. Thus it appears that although Plaintiff's performance deficiencies were sufficient to warrant termination of the Agreement for cause, S1. Claire terminated Plaintiff without cause, which under her Agreement allowed her an additional ninety days' compensation. However, Plaintiff took FMLA leave and did not work for S1. Claire during this notice period.

On September 28, 2012, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit against St. Claire alleging that she was discharged from her employment as the Chief CRNA at SCR in violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, KRS § 344.040, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, KRS § 344.010, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., and in retaliation for making her supervisors aware of alleged violations of law.

Discovery in this matter is complete. S1. Claire now seeks judgment as a matter law upon all claims alleged against it herein.

II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate where "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (c). The moving party "bears the initial responsibility of informing the district 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, ' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The Court views all evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). "The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-moving party's] position will be insufficient [to defeat a motion for summary judgment]; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party].'" Moldowan v. City of Warren, 578 F.3d 351, 374 (6th Cir.2009) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986)).

III. ANALYSIS

In her response to St. Claire's dispositive motion, Plaintiff withdrew her claims of discrimination based upon her gender and age [Docket No. 27, p. 1]. Therefore, this Court will address the two remaining claims - discrimination based upon race and retaliatory discharge.

A. Plaintiff has not alleged a prima facie case of discrimination based upon race.

Both the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, KRS § 344.040 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e makes unlawful an employer's decision "to discharge any individual, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment, because of such ...


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