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IZADIFAR v. LOYOLA UNIVERSITY

June 7, 2005.

NOUSHIN IZADIFAR, M.D., Plaintiff,
v.
LOYOLA UNIVERSITY, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MILTON SHADUR, Senior District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Dr. Noushin Izadifar has brought suit against Drs. Stephen Slogoff and Anthony Barbato and her former employer, Loyola University of Chicago ("Loyola"),*fn1 asserting various claims stemming from her termination by Loyola in July 2002. Those claims include discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ("Title VII," 42 U.S.C. § 2000e), defamation and tortious interference with contract. Loyola has moved for partial summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 56 as to the Title VII claim, and Loyola and Drs. Slogoff and Barbato have moved for summary judgment as to the defamation and tortious interference with contract claims.

After receiving the movants' briefs and Dr. Izadifar's response, this Court orally denied Loyola's motion as to the Title VII claim on April 28, 2005, but it ordered a reply as to the other claims. That submission is now in hand, and all parties have also tendered statements of material fact as called for by this District Court's LR 56.1.*fn2

  Even when the record is viewed in Dr. Izadifar's favor as required by Rule 56, she has not come forward with enough facts — either established or disputed — of a material (that is, outcome — determinative) nature for a reasonable jury to conclude that she ought to prevail on either her defamation or tortious-interference-with-contract claims. Hence all three defendants' motions as to those claims are granted.

  Rule 56 Standards

  Every Rule 56 movant bears the burden of establishing the absence of any genuine issue of material fact (Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986)). For that purpose courts consider the evidentiary record in the light most favorable to nonmovants and draw all reasonable inferences in their favor (Lesch v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 282 F.3d 467, 471 (7th Cir. 2002)). But to avoid summary judgment a nonmovant "must produce more than a scintilla of evidence to support his position" that a genuine issue of material fact exists (Pugh v. City of Attica, 259 F.3d 619, 625 (7th Cir. 2001)) and "must set forth specific facts that demonstrate a genuine issue of triable fact" (id.).

  Ultimately summary judgment is warranted only if a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the nonmovant (Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). What follows is a summary of the relevant facts, viewed of course in the light most favorable to nonmovant Dr. Izadifar — but within the limitations created by the extent of her compliance (or noncompliance) with the strictures of LR 56.1.

  Facts

  Dr. Izadifar was hired as a member of Loyola's faculty in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Stritch School of Medicine on April 1, 2000, entering into a one-year employment contract that was renewed on June 7, 2002 (L. St. ¶¶ 8, 9; L. Ex. E). By virtue of her Loyola faculty position, Dr. Izadifar also entered into a "Provider Employment Agreement" with the Foundation under which Dr. Izadifar agreed to provide clinical patient care services at the Loyola University Medical Center ("Medical Center") (L. St. ¶ 13; L. Ex. F). On May 28, 2002 that agreement was also renewed (id.).

  Dr. Izadifar provided gynecologic radiation oncology treatment at Hines V.A. Hospital ("Hines") once a week, using High Dosage Rate ("HDR") machinery located at Hines (L. St. ¶ 17). Loyola apparently had an agreement with Hines calling for Loyola physicians to staff Hines' Radiation Oncology Department, while Hines provided equipment, nursing personnel and support staff (L. St. ¶ 15; L. Ex. B at 85-86).*fn3 It was a dispute between Dr. Izadifar and Hines nurse Trevino that set off the chain of events leading to Dr. Izadifar's termination from the Loyola faculty on July 17, 2002.*fn4

  On April 17 Hines began using a new HDR machine (L. Ex. B at 90). Dr. Izadifar performed three procedures that day, with Trevino assisting (D. Ex. B at 95). Those procedures were apparently completed without incident. But on April 22 Dr. Izadifar received a call from Dr. Najeeb Mohideen, a physician in Loyola's Department of Radiation Oncology, who told her that Trevino had submitted a complaint regarding the safety of Dr. Izadifar's procedures (id. at 97). Trevino had expressed that the HDR equipment was not being properly decontaminated between procedures (id. at 97-98). Dr. Izadifar disagreed with Trevino's complaint and believed her actions to be inappropriate (id. at 99-102). Dr. Izadifar had previously clashed with Trevino, considering her to be "insubordinate and problematic" (id. at 103).

  On April 24 Dr. Izadifar went to Hines to perform her regularly scheduled HDR procedures (L. Ex. B at 119). Once again a dispute arose between Trevino and Dr. Izadifar, this time after Dr. Izadifar was told that Trevino had assisted a patient's sister in filing a complaint against Dr. Izadifar (id. at 126). Dr. Izadifar asked that Trevino be removed from her remaining procedures (id. at 127-28). After hearing of that request, and in Dr. Izadifar's presence, Trevino began to tear apart documents that belonged in a patient's chart (id. at 130). In response Dr. Izadifar unsuccessfully attempted to take the documents from Trevino's hands (L. St. ¶ 20), prompting Trevino to scream "Don't touch me" repeatedly (L. Ex. B at 134). Trevino then took the documents and gave them to another Hines employee, who returned them to Dr. Izadifar (id. at 135). Dr. Izadifar completed another procedure, assisted by a different nurse, and left Hines without further incident (id.)

  On April 26 Dr. Izadifar wrote a memorandum to Dr. Bahman Emami, chairman of Loyola's Department of Radiation Oncology, who had not been at Hines on April 24 (L. St. ¶ 26; L. Ex. L). Dr. Izadifar described the April 17 and 24 incidents, admitting that she attempted to take documents out of Trevino's hands, but denying that she touched any part of Trevino's body (id.). In an April 29 memorandum to Dr. Elaine Adams, Chief of Medical Services at Hines, Dr. Emami called for disciplinary action against Trevino, stating that "her malicious intention continues to undermine the activities of physicians at Loyola" (L. St. ¶ 50; L. Ex. O).

  After the April 24 incident Dr. Adams met with Dr. Barbara Temeck, Hines' Chief of Staff (I. Resp. ¶ 23). They agreed that Dr. Adams would investigate the situation, and on April 26 Dr. Adams requested a meeting with Dr. Izadifar (L. St. ¶ 27; I. St. ¶ 135). When the two of them met on April 29, Dr. Izadifar again admitted that she had attempted to ...


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