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Garon v. Miller Container Corp.

October 31, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: John A. Gorman United States Magistrate Judge


Now pending are the following motions: Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (#7); Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendant's response (#9); Plaintiff's Motion to Amend (#11); Plaintiff's motion to strike Defendant's sur-reply (#14) and Defendant's Motion to Amend/Correct response (#15).

Plaintiff's motion to strike the response is denied. Plaintiff's motion to amend is moot. Plaintiff's motion to strike sur-reply is denied. Defendant's motion to amend/correct is granted. As further explained below, the motion for summary judgment is denied.


The purpose of summary judgment is to "pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Under Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment should be entered if and only if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Jay v. Intermet Wagner Inc., 233 F.3d 1014, 1016 (7th Cir.2000); Cox v. Acme Health Serv., 55 F.3d 1304, 1308 (7th Cir. 1995).

In ruling on a summary judgment motion, the court may not weigh the evidence or resolve issues of fact; disputed facts must be left for resolution at trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986). The court's role in deciding the motion is not to sift through the evidence, pondering the nuances and inconsistencies, and decide whom to believe. Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 922 (7th Cir.1994). The court has one task and one task only: to decide, based on the evidence of record, whether there is any material dispute of fact that requires a trial.

The court is to examine all admissible facts, viewing the entirety of the record and accepting all facts and drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant, Erdman v. City of Ft. Atkinson, 84 F.3d 960, 961 (7th Cir. 1996); Vukadinovich v. Bd. of Sch. Trustees, 978 F.2d 403, 408 (7th Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 844 (1993); Lohorn v. Michal, 913 F.2d 327, 331 (7th Cir. 1990); DeValk Lincoln-Mercury, Inc. V. Ford Motor Co., 811 F.2d 326, 329 (7th Cir. 1987); Bartman v. Allis Chalmers Corp., 799 F.2d 311, 312 (7th Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 1092 (1987), and construing any doubts against the moving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144 (1970); Trotter v. Anderson, 417 F.2d 1191 (7th Cir. 1969); Haefling v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 169 F.3d 494, 497 (7th Cir.1999). The existence of "some alleged factual dispute between the parties," or "some metaphysical doubt," however, does not create a genuine issue of fact. Piscione v. Ernst & Young, L.L.P., 171 F.3d 527, 532 (7th Cir.1999). The proper inquiry is whether a rational trier of fact could reasonably find for the party opposing the motion with respect to the particular issue. See, e.g., Jordan v. Summers, 205 F.3d 337, 342 (7th Cir.2000).


Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are taken from the parties' statements of undisputed facts, the responses thereto, and the evidentiary support for those statements.

Miller Container Corporation ("Miller") manufactures corrugated products such as cardboard boxes. Allan Garon was employed by Miller as a Press Assistant from August of 2001 until his employment was terminated on February 25, 2004. His job was on the production line, setting up and operating one of the machines. Garon's wife, Jennifer Garon, was also employed by Miller in the press room.

In November of 2003, Jennifer Garon reported to her supervisor Edgar Eckhardt that she was being sexually harassed by a co-worker. Eckhardt reported the complaint to Miller's Human Resources Director, Janice Verbeke, who undertook an investigation. She interviewed Jennifer along with Eckhardt and the Vice President of Operations, Jeff Peterson. Jennifer reported that the harassment had been going on for 3 months. Verbecke then interviewed two other employees that Jennifer identified as having witnessed the harassment. According to Verbecke, both told her during their interviews that they had not seen the things that Jennifer said they had witnessed. Verbecke interviewed the accused employee, Rolando Gonzalez, who denied the allegations. Instead, he said he got upset with Jennifer for not doing certain tasks that she said she could not do because of weight restrictions due to her pregnancy. He said he had been having similar problems with her for about 2 months and that he had reported the problems to Eckhardt. Eckhardt confirmed that Gonzalez had complained to him about Jennifer's performance and attitude.

Verbecke then met with Jennifer a second time and filled out a "Disciplinary Report" [hereinafter "Report"]. The Report is dated November 20, 2003, and it states that the incident was November 18, 2003. The Report lists six different levels of discipline; the first or lowest level, Record of Discussion, is checked. It summarized the above investigation, commented on an earlier, unrelated incident in which Jennifer had threatened to turn a supervisor in for sexual harassment when he criticized her work performance, and then noted the following:

After speaking to all that was [sic] involved today we feel that the allegations towards Rolando are incorrect. Without verifying the allegations that Jennifer is making, we cannot substantiate any further action. We have however, asked Jennifer to go back to the Finishing Department effective immediately to eliminate any further problems. She agreed to do this.

I have enclosed a copy of our Sexual Harassment Policy out of our Employee Handbook for Jennifer to read over, so that she fully understands our policy, and the meaning of sexual harassment. Furthermore, after reading our policy, Jennifer needs to understand that she needs to report any other complaints IMMEDIATELY to ...

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