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Anwar v. Dow Chemical Co.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

November 30, 2017

Rose Anwar, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Dow Chemical Company; MEGlobal International FZE; Ramesh Ramachandran, Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued: October 5, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Bay City. No. 1:15-cv-12708-Thomas L. Ludington, District Judge.

         ARGUED:

          Russell C. Babcock, THE MASTROMARCO FIRM, Saginaw, Michigan, for Appellant.

          Matthew T. Nelson, WARNER, NORCROSS & JUDD, LLP, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee Dow Chemical.

          Jennifer J. Stocker, BARNES & THORNBURG LLP, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee MEGlobal.

         ON BRIEF:

          Victor J. Mastromarco, Jr., THE MASTROMARCO FIRM, Saginaw, Michigan, for Appellant.

          Matthew T. Nelson, Edward J. Bardelli, WARNER, NORCROSS & JUDD, LLP, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee Dow Chemical.

          Jennifer J. Stocker, BARNES & THORNBURG LLP, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee MEGlobal.

          Before: SUTTON, DONALD, and THAPAR, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          BERNICE BOUIE DONALD, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Rose Anwar appeals the district court's dismissal of her claims and argues that the district court erred in granting a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and a motion for summary judgment to Defendants-Appellees MEG International and The Dow Chemical Company ("Dow") respectively. Anwar also argues that the district court erred in denying her request for additional discovery. We find that these arguments fail and AFFIRM the district court's decision.

         I.

         Plaintiff-Appellant Rose Anwar, a U.S. citizen, was hired to work for MEG International in Dubai as an IT Manager on November 1, 2007. In 2011, Anwar received a promotion to Chief Information Officer and Communications Manager. Anwar alleges that, following her promotion, her immediate supervisor, Ramesh Ramachandran, began harassing her about working when she had young children at home. In addition to the harassment, Anwar alleges that Ramachandran openly demonstrated gender bias by making comments about not needing highly paid female employees in the company. Finally, Anwar alleges that Ramachandran expressed his disapproval of Anwar's decision to end her marriage, going so far as to meet with her husband to discuss the divorce and the couple's marital issues. Anwar alleges that this bias culminated in her termination on June 9, 2014, one day after she attended a divorce court proceeding, during which she had asked for an immediate divorce to be initiated. Following her termination, Anwar brought suit against MEG International in a Dubai court alleging 1) failure to provide notice of termination in violation of the law; 2) employment termination for an arbitrary reason; and 3) failure to provide severance pay in violation of the law. Anwar was awarded severance pay, but in support of the lawsuit underlying this appeal, she argues that Dubai's courts were unable to provide a sufficient remedy for the sex and marital status discrimination she experienced.

         On August 3, 2015, Anwar filed a complaint in federal district court in Michigan against MEG International, doing business as MEGlobal Americas, Inc., Ramachandran, and Dow, alleging that she was impermissibly terminated because of her gender, religion, national origin, and marital status. Anwar raised six claims: (1) Sex discrimination in violation of Title VII; (2) Sex discrimination in violation of the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act ("ELCRA"); (3) Marital status discrimination in violation of ELCRA; (4) Breach of an express written agreement; (5) Breach of an implied contract; and (6) Promissory Estoppel. MEG International and Ramachandran filed a motion to dismiss on three bases: 1) the district court did not have personal jurisdiction; 2) service was improper; and 3) the district court was forum non conveniens. Dow likewise filed a motion to dismiss on two bases: 1) failure to state a claim because Anwar was not an employee of Dow at the time of the alleged acts; and 2) the district court was forum non conveniens.[1]

         On January 26, 2016, the district court issued an order dismissing Anwar's claims against Ramachandran for lack of personal jurisdiction and opening discovery for 90 days for the following limited purposes:

(1) Investigating Anwar's allegations that MEG International does business as MEG Americas and that the MEGlobal subsidiaries act as a single entity and (2) Anwar's allegation that Ramachandran and other MEG International managers are employed by Defendant Dow.

         The parties were also instructed to file supplemental briefs on the two above-mentioned issues.

         On March 11, 2016, Dow filed a motion for protective order to prohibit two depositions Anwar had requested, arguing that the depositions of Henry Roth, former President and CEO of MEG International, and Kimberly Wood, former Fraud Investigator for Dow, sought information that was "irrelevant and outside the limited scope of discovery the Court [] authorized[.]" Dow also argued that a protective order was "necessary to protect [Dow] from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, and undue burden and expense." On March 21, 2016, the district court granted the protective order and stated:

Because discovery in this matter is intentionally limited at this time, Defendant Dow has shown good cause for a protective order under Rule 26(c)(1). While the testimony of Mr. Roth and Mrs. Wood may be relevant at a later stage of this litigation, such testimony is unlikely to provide relevant jurisdictional ...

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