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December 9, 2005.

Joyce M. Beasley Plaintiff,
AT & T Corp., a corporation, Defendant.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVID COAR, District Judge


Plaintiff Joyce Beasley ("Beasley" or "Plaintiff") has filed a complaint in this Court, alleging that she was discharged from employment in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq., and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq.

Before this Court are two motions. The first is Beasley's motion asking this Court to reconsider the magistrate's ruling admitting matters found in the requests to admit filed by her former employer, Defendant AT & T Corporation ("AT & T" or "Defendant"). In the alternative. Plaintiff requests that she be permitted to withdraw her admissions. The second, filed by Defendant, is a motion for summary judgment.

  For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff's request for reconsideration of the magistrate's ruling on the requests to admit is DENIED, as is Plaintiff's request to withdraw the admissions. Defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED. All other motions are MOOT and TERMINATED. This case is CLOSED. Background

  Plaintiff, a long-time AT & T employee, was laid off as a result of the company's 2004 reduction in force. She was let go because she received the second lowest skills assessment score of the thirteen process engineers who reported to Sherry Cooper, the supervisor of Plaintiff's direct boss. The assessment, which was carried out by Cooper, was based on Cooper's experience working with Plaintiff on the "Ohio Project." Cooper's assessment of other employees was based on her experiences working with them on other projects.

  Cooper's assessment of Plaintiff was also more negative than her assessment of Plaintiff's co-workers Phil Feinstein and Barbara Rosa. Feinstein and Rosa both had different skills and backgrounds than Plaintiff. Feinstein had not been at the company as long as Plaintiff: he was a former auto mechanic who then worked as a computer educator for a year. Rosa did not have the same technical background as Plaintiff. Differences notwithstanding, Cooper gave them more favorable assessments than she gave Plaintiff.

  Cooper's assessment of Plaintiff was fairly critical: she failed to give Plaintiff a score of higher than five out of ten for any particular assessment category. Cooper claims she gave Beasley a poor assessment because Plaintiff was a mediocre employee. She claims that Plaintiff did not understand what needed to be done on the Ohio Project and did not communicate well on that project. Cooper also noted in the assessment that she felt that Beasley's expertise was limited to one particular AT & T service offering, and that even that expertise was limited.

  Plaintiff contends that Cooper's assessment "failed to reflect Plaintiff's actual skills and abilities." She claims that she performed to Defendant's expectations on the project on which she was assessed. Both parties agree that Plaintiff was never advised of any problems with her performance and that Plaintiff had received more positive reviews from other supervisors before receiving Cooper's negative assessment.

  Both parties also agree that at the time of the assessment, Cooper did not know if any of the process engineers would be fired as part of the reduction in force. After the assessment was completed, Cooper's supervisor Mary Kay Goggins determined that three "A-Band Process Engineers" from Cooper's group would be fired. Goggins fired Beasley because of her low skills assessment score. Two others "A-Band Process Engineers" were also fired. In total, two of the three fired engineers were African-American. Two of the three were fifty-four years of age while one was fifty-three.

  After she was fired, Plaintiff filed suit in this Court. On June 11th 2005, a month before discovery closed, Defendant served her with several requests to admit. On July 21, 2005, after agreed-upon extensions, Plaintiff filed her responses to the request to admit. In those responses, Plaintiff neither admitted nor denied certain matters. She also did not explain how she had carried out reasonable inquiry with respect to matters that she neither admitted nor denied. On July 25, 2005, Defendant filed a motion to determine the sufficiency of Plaintiff's responses. This Court referred that motion to a magistrate. The parties appeared before the magistrate on August 11, 2005. At that hearing, the Defendant asked the magistrate to deem Plaintiff's answers were insufficient or, in the alternative, to allow Plaintiff to amend her answers. Defendant argued, inter alia, that Plaintiff's refusals to answer the requests to admit because she did not have "personal knowledge" of facts established in deposition testimony such as certain birthdates and because any response would be "tantamount" to a summary judgment response violated Rule 36. The magistrate agreed with Defendant that such answers were insufficient, outlined the shortcomings of Plaintiff's answers and how those shortcomings could be addressed, and permitted Plaintiff to revise her answers. At the time, the magistrate acknowledged that granting leave to amend would affect the briefing schedule of this case, but stated that she did not want to deprive Plaintiff of the opportunity to file amended responses. As a result of her decision, this Court extended the deadline for filing summary judgment motions.

  After receiving an extension from the magistrate, Plaintiff filed her amended responses. On September 1, 2005, the parties appeared before the magistrate. The magistrate reviewed Plaintiff's submissions and concluded that the second set of answers was "actually less complete than the first time." The magistrate took issue with the fact that Plaintiff denied the truth of the requests but did not answer any accompanying interrogatories. She also found Plaintiff's arguments- or lack thereof-troubling. She concluded that Plaintiff had failed to show how she carried out a reasonable inquiry into the truth of Defendant's requests and found those objections to be insufficient. She also found insufficient Plaintiff's argument that answering would require a response tantamount to a summary judgment motion response. In addition, she was unimpressed with Plaintiff's new argument that answering the requests required "the impossible task of reading the minds of Defendant's witnesses" and that they amounted to an "attempt to have Plaintiff concede to the entire defense of this case." She was no more impressed with Plaintiff's argument that asking her to admit to possessing no evidence of claims of race and age discrimination was improper because it required Plaintiff to admit legal conclusions and that portions of the request would require "denials with a lengthy citation and explanation of the evidence" by means of interrogatories. In the amended responses, Plaintiff also argued that if her amended responses were insufficient, she should be granted leave to file "complete responses" at the same time as her response to Defendant's summary judgment motion "as a means of avoiding over-duplication of resources in this matter." The magistrate did not agree to the proposition that granting a second leave to amend was appropriate, and concluded that all the matters in the requests to admit were deemed admitted.

  On September 13, 2005, Plaintiff filed the motion for reconsideration of the magistrate's order or, in the alternative, withdrawal of admissions in this Court. Three days later, on the last day for filing dispositive motions, Defendant filed its motion for summary judgment. Briefing has been completed on both motions.

  Standard of Review

  Summary judgment is appropriate when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, along with any affidavits, show there is no genuine issue of fact. Such a showing entitles the moving party to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986); Lucas v. Chicago Transit Authority, 367 F.3d 714, 720 (7th Cir. 2004). A genuine issue of material fact exists only when a reasonable factfinder could find for the nonmoving party, based on the record as a whole. The court does not weigh the evidence and it does not make credibility determinations. Instead, the court makes all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prod., Inc., 530 U.S. 133 (2000); EEOC v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 233 F.3d 432, 436 (7th Cir. 2000). The Court accepts the nonmoving party's version of any disputed facts; however, those facts must be supported by relevant, admissible evidence. Bombard v. Fort Wayne Newspapers, Inc., 92 F.3d 560, 562 (7th Cir. 1996). It is the burden of the party moving for summary judgment to demonstrate the absence of genuine issues of material fact for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Hedberg v. Indiana Bell Tel. Co., Inc., 47 F.3d 928, 931 (7th Cir. 1995). If the moving party meets this burden, the non-moving party must set forth specific facts that demonstrate the existence of a genuine triable issue. Rule 56(e); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. To successfully oppose the motion for summary judgment. ...

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