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Jackson v. VHS Detroit Receiving Hospital, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

September 12, 2017

KARON JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
VHS DETROIT RECEIVING HOSPITAL, INC., Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S SECOND MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [41]

          STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III, United States District Judge

         Before the Court is the second motion for summary judgment of Defendant VHS Detroit Receiving Hospital, Inc. (DRH). The Court granted the first motion, and Plaintiff Karon Jackson appealed. The Court of Appeals subsequently reversed and remanded the case. DRH then moved for leave to file a second motion for summary judgment, which the Court granted. The Court has reviewed the briefs and finds that a hearing is unnecessary. See E.D. Mich. 7.1(f)(2). For the following reasons, the Court will deny DRH's second motion for summary judgment.

         BACKGROUND

         The facts of the case were laid out in the Court's previous order (ECF 21) and in the Court of Appeal's opinion (ECF 25). In brief: Jackson worked as a mental health technician at the Detroit Receiving Hospital from 1988 to 2013. She was terminated after she escorted the wrong patient out of the hospital's Crisis Center. She filed a charge of sex discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which ultimately issued her a notice of dismissal and her right to sue. She did sue, and the result is this case.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment is proper if there is "no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is material for purposes of summary judgment if its resolution would establish or refute an "essential element[] of a cause of action or defense asserted by the parties[.]" Kendall v. Hoover Co., 751 F.2d 171, 174 (6th Cir. 1984).

         In considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court must view the facts and draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Stiles ex rel. D.S. v. Grainger Cty., Tenn., 819 F.3d 834, 848 (6th Cir. 2016). The Court must then determine "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). And although the Court may not make credibility judgments or weigh the evidence, Moran v. Al Basit LLC, 788 F.3d 201, 204 (6th Cir. 2015), a mere "scintilla" of evidence is insufficient to survive summary judgment; "there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff, " Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         DISCUSSION

         In sex-discrimination cases like this one, the Court employs the burden-shifting framework articulated in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). Under the framework, Jackson has the initial burden of establishing a prima facie case of discrimination. The burden then shifts to DRH to articulate a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for its employment decision. Jackson then must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the DRH's justification was a pretext for discrimination. Id. at 804.

         In her opposition to the first motion for summary judgment, Jackson argued that she was similarly situated to two other male employees who were not terminated for similar actions: Ronald Duncan and Lester Little. The Court found that Jackson established a prima facie case as to Duncan, ECF 21, PgID 292-93, and the Court of Appeals reached the same conclusion as to both Duncan and Little. Jackson v. VHS Detroit Receiving Hosp., Inc., 814 F.3d 769, 778 (6th Cir. 2016).

         Nevertheless, DRH claimed it had a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for firing Jackson but not Duncan or Little. Specifically, DRH argued that Jackson's mistake was more egregious than either Duncan's or Little's mistakes. But the Court of Appeals concluded that:

when all relevant evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to Jackson, and all reasonable inferences are drawn in her favor, the circumstances surrounding her termination would permit a reasonable jury to infer that DRH's justifications for her termination were pretextual, and that she was instead terminated because of her sex.

Id. at 779, and remanded the case.

         Now, DRH has sought and received leave to file a second motion for summary judgment for the purpose of expanding the factual record.[1]See ECF 36, PgID 357. The new facts are not voluminous: they are simply three short declarations by DRH employees[2] involved in and familiar with Jackson's termination. So the Court must ...


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