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Daniels v. (DHSS) Delaware Psychiatric Center

United States District Court, D. Delaware

September 18, 2018

TOMEKA M. DANIELS, Plaintiff,
v.
(DHSS) DELAWARE PSYCHIATRIC CENTER, Defendant.

          Tomeka M. Daniels, Wilmington, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.

          Joseph Clement Handlon, Deputy Attorney General, and Lauren E. Maguire, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STARK, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Tomeka M. Daniels ("Plaintiff') filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5, alleging employment discrimination. (D.I. 2) She proceeds pro se and was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Presently before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment and Plaintiffs opposition. (D.I. 56, 66, 68, 69)

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff commenced this employment discrimination action on March 13, 2015. (D.I. 2) Following a series of motions to dismiss, the matter proceeds on Plaintiffs Title VII race discrimination claims against Defendant as set forth in both the charge of discrimination (D.I. 8 at 13) and Plaintiffs original Complaint (D.I. 2). (See D.I. 52, 53) The Court previously dismissed retaliation and race discrimination claims raised against Defendant. (See D.I. 44, 45)

         Plaintiffs EEOC charge of discrimination, dated January 6, 2014, alleges discrimination based upon race, noting Plaintiffs protected class as "Race (black)". (See D.I. 8, at Ex.) It states that Plaintiff submitted her charge of discrimination to the Delaware Department of Labor on December 13, 2013. The Charge of Discrimination was signed on January 6, 2014 and identified adverse employment actions of harassment, reassignment, and discipline.

         The charge asserts that in retaliation for a complaint Plaintiff filed against Nursing Director Valerie Deveraux ("Deveraux") (who is white), and because Plaintiff suffered a work-related injury, she was harassed, ridiculed, and treated in a hostile and intimidating manner by Deveraux on several occasions from October 21, 2013 to December 12, 2013. Plaintiff was moved off the unit where she normally worked and told to complete a one-day training and mandatory refresher with nursing staff. (D.I. 8 at Ex.; D.I. 67 at 34, Pl.'s Dec. 12, 2013 grievance) Plaintiffs physician released her to return to work to full duty on November 18, 2013. (D.I. 8 at 13) She was reassigned to the mail room to shred documents in unsafe and unhealthy conditions. (Id.) On November 21, 2013, Plaintiff "received a telephone call from 'supervision' to clock out without pay and her supervisor would follow up later that evening." (D.I. 67 at 34) Plaintiff was told to report to medical records by the ADN (presumably Deveraux) "without reason" and, when Plaintiff asked why she was being moved, she was told Administration had told the ADN to move her. (Id.) Plaintiff reported to medical records each day until November 27, 2013, when the Hospital Director told her to remain in medical records. (Id.) Plaintiff received a ten-day suspension on December 18, 2013, effective January 6, 2014. (Id.) The suspension was based upon Defendant's determination that Plaintiff had falsely reported a work-related injury.[1] (D.I. 67 at 1-43)

         Plaintiff filed her Complaint after she received of a notice of suit rights dated December 15, 2014. (D.I. 2) Both the Complaint and the charge of discrimination contain similar allegations regarding actions taken by Deveraux. The Complaint, but not the charge of discrimination, alleges that "on 12/12/2014 ... I was verbally harassed and somewhat assaulted by Valerie Deveraux in which she invaded my personal space became physical[ly] aggressive and proceed[ed] to snatch my personal property out of my hands." (D.I. 2 at 6)

         On August 11, 2017, the Court entered a scheduling and discovery order. (D.I. 54) It is not clear, but it does not seem that any discovery has taken place. Defendant moves for summary judgment on the grounds that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and judgment as a matter of law is appropriate. (D.I. 56)

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         Under Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, "[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585-86 (1986). An assertion that a fact cannot be or, alternatively, is - genuinely disputed must be supported either by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials," or by "showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A) & (B). If the moving party has carried its burden, the nonmovant must then "come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court will "draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, and it may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence." Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000).

         To defeat a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must "do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586; see also Podobnik v. U.S. Postal Serv.,409 F.3d 584, 594 (3d Cir. 2005) (stating party opposing summary judgment "must present more than just bare assertions, conclusory allegations or suspicions to show the existence of a genuine issue") (internal quotation marks omitted). The "mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment;" a factual dispute is genuine only where "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Id. at 249-50 (internal citations omitted); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (stating entry of summary judgment is mandated "against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial"). Thus, the "mere ...


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