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Denofre v. Transportation Insurance Rating Bureau

decided: March 26, 1976.

CELIA DENOFRE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
TRANSPORTATION INSURANCE RATING BUREAU, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, No. 74 C 2631 RICHARD B. AUSTIN, Judge.

Swygert and Cummings, Circuit Judges, and East,*fn* Senior District Judge. Swygert, Circuit Judge.

Author: Per Curiam

The plaintiff-appellant (Denofre) appeals from the Judgment of Dismissal of her cause entered by the District Court on March 3, 1975 following the granting of the defendant-appellee's (Bureau) Rule 41(b) motion to dismiss. We vacate the Judgment of Dismissal and remand.

In view of our ultimate disposition of this appeal, we deem it unnecessary to give a narrative of the evidence adduced in support of Denofre's alleged cause, except to say that Denofre was under the employment of the Bureau and was discharged from her employment.

Denofre seeks redress from alleged violation of various provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. ยง 2000(e), et seq.) in that her:

(1) various changes of tasks and ultimate discharge from employment were in retaliation for her filing of charges of sex discrimination against the Bureau; and

(2) salary and other terms and conditions of her employment provided by the Bureau were inferior to those provided for male employees in substantially equivalent positions.

Denofre further seeks redress for Bureau's alleged breach of her contract of employment.

We believe the single issue on appeal is: Did the District Court substantially comply with the making of findings of fact and conclusions of law requirement of Rule 52(a) as necessitated by Rule 41(b)?

The Bureau joined issue with Denofre's complaint and the cause was tried to the District Court sitting without a jury. At the close of Denofre's presentation of her case in chief, the Bureau moved pursuant to Rule 41(b) for dismissal of the cause. The District Court declined to render any judgment until the close of all the evidence. At the close of all the evidence on behalf of each party, the Bureau renewed its earlier motion to dismiss, which was granted.

We are satisfied from our perusal of the evidentiary record submitted that the evidence of the parties in support of their respective positions was in conflict and the cause was required to be submitted to the District Court on its merits.

We agree that in reviewing the findings of fact entered by a District Court in support of its conclusions of law and ultimate judgment, this court is bound in its review by the "clearly erroneous" test under Rule 52(a). Zenith Corp. v. Hazeltine, 395 U.S. 100, 23 L. Ed. 2d 129, 89 S. Ct. 1562 (1969). However, the difficulty we face is determining whether the District Court entered any findings of specific evidentiary and ultimate facts which can be judiciously reviewed under the clearly erroneous rule in light of the evidence in the case.

The following oral statements entered by the District Court immediately upon the renewal of Bureau's Rule 41(b) motion are the only ones we glean from the record which constitute any semblance of findings of specific evidentiary or ultimate fact:

"The court finds that there is no violation or any discrimination on the basis of sex [more properly a conclusion of law], and the court further finds that the fact that she filed these complaints, she was not fired for those reasons, she was fired because her employer thought, apparently, that having hired a woman in the first place, having gone to some efforts to get her to come, having paid her substantially more than her predecessor of twenty-three years had been paid when she came there, and taking into consideration his statement that he will take into consideration her demand for a raise, that her services were unsatisfactory regardless of the fact ...


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