United States District Court, D. Delaware
Daniel, C. Herr, Law Office of Daniel C. Herr LLC,
Wilmington, DE - attorney for Plaintiff.
D. Taylor, Jr., Randall S. MacTough, Saul Ewing Arnstein
& Lehr LLP, Wilmington, DE - attorneys for Defendant.
NOREIKA, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is the renewed motion for summary judgment
by Defendant University of Delaware Library Administrative
(“Defendant” or “the University”).
(D.I. 34). For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's
motion is DENIED.
Marlene Osborne (“Plaintiff or “Osborne”)
filed this action against Defendant -her employer - alleging
racial discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964. (D.I. 1). The basic background facts
underlying this case were set out in an earlier summary
judgment opinion by Judge Sleet (see D.I. 17 at 1
-5), and this Court includes additional background only to
provide the procedural context for the present
motion. Although Plaintiff originally filed this
case pro se, she retained counsel on May 5, 2017.
(See D.I. 10). Discovery closed on May 12, 2017
(see D.I. 4 & 6), and Plaintiff had taken no
discovery as of that deadline.
12, 2017, in accordance with the scheduling order then in
place, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment.
(See D.I. 11 & 12). Judge Sleet denied the
motion, finding that genuine issues of material fact remained
in dispute as to (1) Plaintiff s prima facie case of
discrimination and (2) whether Defendant's asserted
reasons for the alleged adverse employment decision were
pretextual. (See D.I. 17 & 18; see also
D.I. 17 at 10-11). In denying Defendant's motion for
summary judgment, the court allowed additional discovery to
go forward. (See D.I. 17 at 11 (“[T]he
University's motion for summary judgment is denied
without prejudice to being renewed after the parties have
engaged in formal discovery.”)). Following a period of
additional discovery, on April 1, 2019, Defendant filed the
present renewed motion for summary judgment. (See
D.I. 34 & 35; see also D.I. 36). Defendant's
motion was fully briefed as of April 29, 2019. (See
D.I. 39 & 41).
judgment is appropriate when the pleadings, the discovery and
disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits
“show that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and [that] the movant is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving
party bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact. See Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585-86
n.10 (1986). 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.'” Id. at 587 (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)) (emphasis in original). 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). The Court may not grant summary judgment if a
“reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Williams v. Borough of West
Chester, Pa., 891 F.2d 458, 459 (3d Cir. 1989) (citation
defeat a motion for summary judgment, however, 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)
(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.” Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in
original). A factual dispute is genuine only where “the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. at 248;
Horowitz v. Fed. Kemper Life Assurance Co., 57 F.3d
300, 302 n.1 (3d Cir. 1995). “If the evidence is merely
colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary
judgment may be granted.” Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 249-50 (internal citations omitted); see also Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (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”).
noted above, Plaintiff asserts race discrimination in
violation of Title VII. (See D.I. 1 at 1). In
particular, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant discriminated
against her by failing to promote her to a position in the
Office of Vice Provost and, further, by demoting her to an
administrative assistant position in the reception area of
the library. (See, e.g., D.I. 39 at 4, 7-8; D.I.
39-1 ¶¶ 14-20; D.I. 39-2 ¶¶ 8-11). Claims
of discrimination are reviewed under the burden-shifting
framework established by the Supreme Court in McDonnell
Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). See
Capps v. Mondelez Glob., LLC, 847 F.3d 144, 151 (3d Cir.
2017). In such cases, the Third Circuit has
a plaintiff must first establish a prima facie case of
discrimination. If the plaintiff succeeds, the defendant must
articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the
adverse employment action. The burden then shifts back to the
plaintiff to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that
the articulated reason was a mere pretext for discrimination.
Capps, 847 F.3d at 151 (quoting Ross v.
Gilhuly, 755 F.3d 185, 193 (3d Cir. 2014)). “[T]he
burden of persuasion remain[s] at all times with the
plaintiff.” Sheriden v. E.I. Dupont de Nemours