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Watson v. ABT Electronics

February 23, 2007

JILLIAN WATSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ABT ELECTRONICS, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Holderman

Magistrate Judge Nolan

ABT ELECTRONICS, INC.'S RULE 50(A) RENEWED MOTION FOR JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW AT THE CLOSE OF ALL EVIDENCE

Defendant, Abt Electronics, Inc. ("Abt"), respectfully requests that this Court enter judgment as a matter of law in its favor pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(a), because Plaintiff has failed to present legally sufficient evidence that Abt retaliated against Plaintiff, and, accordingly, no reasonable jury could find in Plaintiff's favor and against Abt. In addition, Abt requests judgment as a matter of law on the issue of punitive damages, because there is no legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonably jury to find that Abt engaged in intentional retaliation with malice or with reckless indifference to the federally protected rights of Plaintiff. In support of this Motion, Abt states as follows:

I. LEGAL STANDARD

1. Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(a) provides, as follows:

(a) Judgment as a Matter of Law

(1) If a party has been fully heard on an issue during a jury trial and the court finds that a reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient evidentiary basis to find for the party on that issue, the court may:

(A) resolve the issue against the party; and (B) grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law against the party on a claim or defense that, under the controlling law, can be maintained or defeated only with a favorable finding on that issue.

(2) Motions. A motion for judgment as a matter of law may be made at any time before the case is submitted to the jury. The motion must specify the judgment sought and the law and facts that entitle the movant to the judgment.

2. The standard for granting judgment as a matter of law is the same standard for granting summary judgment. Murray v. Chicago Transit Authority, 252 F.3d 880, 886-887 (7th Cir. 2001).

II. PLAINTIFF'S RETALIATION CLAIM FAILS AS A MATTER OF LAW.

3. Title VII prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee because that employee has opposed any practice made unlawful by Title VII. 42 U.S.C. §2000e-3(a). Plaintiff claims that her employment was terminated in retaliation for telling one of her supervisors, Gregory Meinholz, to stop sexually harassing her. Plaintiff's claims are legally insufficient for the following reasons.

4. Plaintiff has two routes she can take to attempt to prove retaliation under Title VII -- the direct method or the indirect method under McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting approach. See Stone v. Indianapolis Pub. Utils. Div., 281 F.3d 640, 644, cert denied 537 U.S. 879 (2002).

A. No Direct Evidence Of Retaliation Exists In This Case.

5. Under the direct method, Plaintiff was required to present direct evidence that:

(1) she engaged in statutorily protected activity; (2) an adverse employment action was taken by the employer; and (3) a causal connection existed between the two. Rhodes v. Illinois Dep't of Transportation, 359 F.3d 498, 505-506 (7th Cir. 2004), citing Stone, 281 F.3d at 644. However, "the Seventh Circuit is clear that temporal proximity between the protected activity and the adverse employment action does not itself create a triable issue." Tomanovich v. City of Indianapolis and Indiana Department of Transportation, 457 F.3d 656, 665 (7th Cir. 2006); Mazeika, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71956 *50-51.

6. Here, although Plaintiff's employment was terminated, she has failed to prove the first and third ...


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