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Roberts v. Ferry County

December 5, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Edward F. Shea United States District Judge


Before the Court, without oral argument, are Defendants Ferry County and Sheriff Peter Warner's Motion to Strike (Ct. Rec. 29) and Motion for Summary Judgment (Ct. Rec. 11). After reviewing the submitted material and relevant authority, the Court is fully informed and denies Defendants' motion to strike and grants and denies in part Defendants' summary judgment motion. The reasons for the Court's Order are set forth below.

I. Background

The following facts are set forth in a light most favorable to Plaintiff:*fn1

In 2004, Ferry County actively sought qualified candidates to serve as corrections officers. (Ct. Rec. 28 at 2.) To fill vacancies, the Ferry County Civil Services Commission ("CSC") submits a list of three (3) qualified candidates to Defendant Warner. Id. Defendant Warner reviews the list, makes a selection, and fills the vacancy. Id. During 2004, however, the CSC lists submitted to Defendant Warner contained fewer than three (3) names due to a lack of qualified candidates. Id. When applicant shortages occur, regulations permit Defendant Warner to review the entire applicant pool and appoint someone on an "emergency basis." Emergency appointments are temporary. Id. at 3.

Defendant Warner hired Mickey McClain-Brown on an emergency basis beginning on January 3, 2005; Defendant Warner hired Gordon Winter on an emergency basis beginning April 2, 2005. Id. at 2-3. Neither Ms. McClain-Brown nor Mr. Winter were qualified to serve as corrections officers because they did not pass the CSC physical exam. Id. at 3.

Meanwhile, Plaintiff Faustina Roberts applied for a corrections officer position with the Ferry County Sheriff's Department on September 16, 2004. (Ct. Rec. 28 at 2.) Unlike Ms. McClain-Brown and Mr. Winter, Plaintiff was qualified to serve as a corrections officer-she passed the CSC physical exam in May 2005. (Ct. Rec. 1 at 3.)*fn2 Plaintiff's name was subsequently submitted to Defendant Warner for consideration. (Ct. Rec. 23 at 3.)

In December 2005, Plaintiff sent a letter to the CSC complaining that Defendant Warner continued to employ Mr. Winter as a corrections officer even though he did not pass the CSC physical exam. (Ct. Rec. 28 at 3.) Mr. Winter's emergency appointment ended in February 2006. Id. at 2. After Mr. Winter's departure, Defendant Warner contacted CSC Commissioner Sam Jenkins and informed him that two (2) corrections officer positions were available. (Ct. Rec. 28 at 4.) Shortly thereafter, Defendant Warner contacted Plaintiff to set up an interview for one of the available corrections officer positions-they agreed on a March 31, 2006 interview date. (Ct. Rec. 23 at 4.) Defendant Warner informed Plaintiff she would be interviewing for a part-time position; CSC Commissioner Jenkins, however, informed Plaintiff that the available corrections officer positions were full-time positions. Id. at 5.

Three (3) days before the interview, Plaintiff contacted Defendant Warner's office and spoke with Peter Brandon to inform them a conflict came up and that she would need to reschedule. Id. Plaintiff attempted to reach Defendant Warner three (3) additional times before the scheduled interview-she was unable to do so. Plaintiff spoke with Mr. Brandon each time, and each time Mr. Brandon insisted he passed her messages along to Defendant Warner. Id. at 5. Defendant Warner denies receiving Plaintiff's messages. (Ct. Rec. 28 at 4.)

On March 30, 2006, Defendant Warner e-mailed the CSC and asked that Plaintiff's application be "passed for cause" because she did not reasonably attempt to reschedule her interview. (Ct. Rec. 16, Ex. 1.)

In April 2006, Defendant Warner received a new candidate list from the CSC containing one name-Erin Boone. (Ct. Rec. 28 at 5.) Defendant Warner hired Ms. Boone to fill the first corrections officer opening; he hired Maia Pugliese, another female, to fill the second corrections officer opening. Id. at 5-6. On May 11, 2007, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Defendant Warner and Ferry County alleging gender discrimination and retaliation. (Ct. Rec. 1.) On July 11, 2008, Defendants filed the summary judgment motion now before the Court.

II. Discussion

A. Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate if the "pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). Once a party has moved for summary judgment, the opposing party must point to specific facts establishing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). If the nonmoving party fails to make such a showing for any of the elements essential to its case for which it bears the burden of proof, the trial court should grant the summary judgment motion. Id. at 322. "When the moving party has carried its burden of [showing that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law], its opponent must do more than show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to material facts. In the language of [Rule 56], the nonmoving party must come forward with'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986) (citations omitted) (emphasis in original opinion).

When considering a motion for summary judgment, a court should not weigh the evidence or assess credibility; instead, "the evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). This does not mean that a court will accept as true assertions made by the non-moving party that are flatly contradicted by the record. See Scott v. Harris, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 1776 (2007) ("When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so ...

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