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Rulison v. Yogurt Play, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

March 5, 2014

ELIZABETH M. RULISON, Plaintiff,
v.
YOGURT PLAY, LLC d/b/a PEAKS FROZEN YOGURT BAR and THOMAS LENZ, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

ROBERT S. LASNIK, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the Court on defendants' "Motion for Partial Summary Judgment" (Dkt. #31) pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. (Rule) 56.[1] Defendants assert that plaintiff cannot establish the numerosity factor required for liability under Title VII. Motion (Dkt. #31) at 1. In her response, plaintiff moves to strike the declaration of Karen Kalzer and for leave to amend her complaint. Response (Dkt. #38) at 2, 5.

The Court has reviewed the parties' submissions. For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS plaintiff's motion to strike the declaration of Karen Kalzer, GRANTS defendants' motion for partial summary judgment, and GRANTS plaintiff's motion for leave to amend.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Background

Plaintiff was employed by defendant Peaks Frozen Yogurt Bar (Peaks) from January to June 2012. Amended Complaint (Dkt. #30) at 3. Plaintiff alleges that her manager, defendant Thomas Lenz, made overt sexual comments and committed sexually offensive actions against her throughout the course of her employment. Id . Plaintiff eventually ceased working at Peaks due to the alleged harassment. Id . at 5.

B. Motion to Strike

Plaintiff has moved to strike defendants' declaration of Karen Kalzer pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7(g). Response (Dkt. #38) at 2. This motion is GRANTED. The declarant is defendants' counsel of record and states only that "[t]he facts set forth in the foregoing motion are true and correct." See Motion (Dkt. #31) at 6. Statements regarding the parties' contentions in this matter need no support other than an appropriate citation to the record. Ms. Kalzer has no personal knowledge of the underlying facts and cannot attest thereto.

C. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate if, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, "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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see L.A. Printex Indus., Inc. v. Aeropostale, Inc. 676 F.3d 841 , 846 (9th Cir. 2012). The moving party "bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The moving party need not "produce evidence showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact" but instead may discharge its burden under Rule 56 by "pointing out... that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Id . at 325. "An issue is genuine' only is there is a sufficient evidentiary basis on which a reasonable fact finder could find for the nonmoving party." In re Barboza , 545 F.3d 702, 707 (9th Cir. 2008) (internal citations omitted). "The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986).

Defendants assert that summary judgment is appropriate on plaintiff's Title VII claims as Peaks does not meet the statutory definition of an employer. Motion (Dkt. #31) at 4. "The term employer' means a person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has fifteen or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year." 41 U.S.C. § 2000e(b).

Defendants submitted into evidence Peaks' payroll summaries for the time period of plaintiff's employment. Tarcea Decl. (Dkt. #32) at 2. Defendants assert that these documents demonstrate that Peaks had a maximum of thirteen employees during the relevant time period under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(b). Motion (Dkt. #31) at 4-5. In response, plaintiff has submitted an email from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) confirming that Peaks employed 15 or more persons, Parker Decl. (Dkt. #39) Ex. A, and the Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC. Id . Ex. B. Plaintiff also argues that Peaks has more than fifteen employees based on the information submitted in the Declaration of Bobby Tarcea. Response (Dkt. #38) at 5.

The email notifying plaintiff that Peaks employed fifteen or more persons is hearsay. Hearsay includes any out-of-court statement offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. FRE 801(a), (c). Hearsay is inadmissible unless it falls within a hearsay exception under FRE 803, 804, or 807. Plaintiff has not identified an applicable exception that ...


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