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Scott v. City of Sioux City

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Western Division

December 22, 2014

BRITTANY SCOTT, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF SIOUX CITY, IOWA, and PAUL ECKERT, Individually, Defendants

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For Brittany Scott, Plaintiff: Stanley E Munger, LEAD ATTORNEY, Munger, Reinschmidt & Denne, Sioux City, IA.

For City of Sioux City, Iowa, Defendant: Randall H Stefani, LEAD ATTORNEY, Lindsay Ann Vaught, Ahlers & Cooney, PC, Des Moines, IA.

For Paul Eckert, Defendant: Stacey Laurene Hall, Nyemaster Goode, Cedar Rapids, IA.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING THE DEFENDANT CITY'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND MOTION TO EXCLUDE TESTIMONY BY PLAINTIFF'S EXPERTS, BOTH JOINED BY THE INDIVIDUAL DEFENDANT

MARK W. BENNETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Factual Background

B. Procedural Background

II. LEGAL ANALYSIS

A. The City's Motion For Summary Judgment

1. Arguments of the parties

2. Standards for summary judgment

3. Analysis

a. Elements of a retaliation claim

b. The continuing violation claim

i. The Morgan standard

ii. Application of the Morgan standard

iii. Scott's authorities

c. A " hostile retaliatory environment" claim

d. Timely incident claims

4. Summary

B. The City's Motion To Exclude Testimony Of Experts

1. Additional factual background

2. Arguments of the parties

3. Analysis

a. Applicable standards

b. Application of the standards

i. Dr. Brown's opinions

ii. Dr. Fitzgerald's opinions

4. Summary

III. CONCLUSION

A long-time city employee asserts claims, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., as amended, and the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA), Iowa Code Ch. 216, that, over a period of almost nine years, she was retaliated against by the city and the former city manager for her 2004 complaint that the city manager sexually harassed her from 2000 to 2004. The city has moved for summary judgment on the employee's retaliation claims and to exclude testimony from two of her experts, in whole or in part. The former city manager has joined in these motions, and the employee has resisted them.

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Factual Background

I set forth here only those facts, disputed and undisputed, sufficient to put in context the parties' arguments concerning the defendants' Motion For Summary

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Judgment. Thus, the " universe" of facts stated here is considerably smaller than the complete set of facts, undisputed and disputed, set forth in the parties' various statements of fact. Unless otherwise indicated, the facts recited here are undisputed, at least for purposes of summary judgment. If necessary, I will discuss additional factual allegations, and the extent to which they are or are not disputed or material, in my legal analysis.

Plaintiff Brittany Scott, a long-time employee of the defendant City of Sioux City, Iowa, was hired by the City on or about March 31, 1997, as a full-time administrative assistant. Scott alleges that the former city manager, defendant Paul Eckert, sexually harassed her from 2000 until March 23, 2004. In March 2004, in an investigative interview arising from allegations that Eckert had sexually harassed various female employees, Scott complained that Eckert had sexually harassed her. Scott concedes that " active" harassment by Eckert abruptly stopped after her complaint. She alleges that, instead, retaliation by Eckert and the City began, and continued over the next several years.

Specifically, Scott contends that the defendants' retaliation consisted of the following actions:

o at some time between September 2004 and March 2005, Eckert removed Scott from the City Council's Agenda Review Committee;
o in the fall of 2005, Eckert removed Scott from her position as Leader Assistant to the Executive Leader of the Emergency Operations Committee at Fire Station #3;
o in the fall of 2005, Eckert spread rumors of a sexual nature about Scott and another City employee, Aaron Kraft;
o in March 2006, the City transferred Scott to a position out of City Hall, in the Public Works-Field Services Headquarters (Field Services);
o on June 12, 2006, the City appointed a new City Clerk without giving Scott the opportunity to apply for the position;
o on January 1, 2008, Eckert demoted Scott from Administrative Assistant to Administrative Secretary;
o in late 2008, Eckert required Scott to give up her private office and share a work station with two part-time Clerical Assistants;
o on June 18, 2011, the City cut Scott's Administrative Secretary position in Field Services from full-time to part-time;
o on September 26, 2012, the City hired another candidate, Melissa Uhl, for a full-time position as an Administrative Assistant in Public Works-Engineering, for which Scott had applied
o on July 29, 2012; and on January 1, 2013, the City reduced Scott's hours from 35 hours per week to 29 hours per week, ostensibly because of changes to the definition of " full-time employee" for health insurance purposes under the Affordable Care Act.

The parties agree that only the last two incidents occurred after April 7, 2012, which was 300 days before the filing date of Scott's administrative complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC).

Scott contends that this list is not exhaustive, however, because Eckert and the City took various other actions that she contends were also retaliatory. Her allegations of additional retaliatory actions consist of the following:

o Eckert took adverse actions against her friends who were City employees;
o in 2006, Eckert gave false explanations to another City employee about the

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reason for transferring Scott to Field Services;
o in 2006, Eckert told the City's Public Works Director to " get rid of" Scott, when Scott was transferred to Public Works, and the Public Works Director then told Scott's immediate supervisor to " get rid of" her;
o from 2006 forward, City employees called Scott " The Black Widow" ;
o in 2011, Eckert told his assistant that Scott was " poison to men" and that he was going to make her resign;
o from an unspecified date " to the present," City employees circulated rumors about Scott; and
o from 2006 through 2012, the City denied Scott the opportunity to get a better job, because Scott would have felt like a " sitting duck" for Eckert to get rid of her, if she had left her job at Field Services.

Plaintiff's Response To Defendants' Statement Of Undisputed Material Facts (docket no. 59-2), ¶ 7.

B. Procedural Background

On July 19, 2013, Scott filed her Complaint (docket no. 1) in this court, asserting claims, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., as amended, and the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA), Iowa Code Ch. 216, that the City and Eckert retaliated against her, over a period of almost nine years, for her 2004 complaint that Eckert sexually harassed her between 2000 and 2004. The City filed the Motion For Summary Judgment (docket no. 46), now before me, on Scott's retaliation claims, on September 5, 2014. Eckert filed his Joinder (docket no. 50) in the City's Motion For Summary Judgment on September 8, 2014. Scott filed her Resistance (docket no. 59) on October 22, 2014. The City filed its Reply (docket no. 62) in further support of its Motion For Summary Judgment on November 3, 2014, and Eckert filed his Joinder (docket no. 65) in the City's Reply that same day.

On September 5, 2014, the City also filed its separate Motion To Exclude And/Or Limit The Testimony Of Plaintiff's Expert Witnesses (Motion To Exclude Testimony Of Experts) (docket no. 48), seeking to exclude all or parts of the testimony from two of Scott's experts. Eckert also filed a Joinder (docket no. 51) in that motion on September 8, 2014, and Scott filed her Resistance (docket no. 55) to it on October 6, 2014. The City filed a Reply (docket no. 56) in further support of its motion on October 16, 2014.

A jury trial in this matter is currently set to begin on March 30, 2015.

II. LEGAL ANALYSIS

Resolution of certain issues in the City's Motion For Summary Judgment[1] will necessarily dictate the resolution of overlapping portions of the City's Motion To Exclude Testimony Of Experts. Therefore, I will consider, first, the City's Motion For Summary Judgment.

A. The City's Motion For Summary ...


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