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Ardis A. Maune v. Bankers Life and Casualty Company

October 5, 2012

ARDIS A. MAUNE,
MAUNE,
v.
BANKERS LIFE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: B. Lynn Winmill Chief Judge United States District Court

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

The Court has before it a Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 247), submitted by Defendant Bankers Life and Casualty Co. Plaintiff Ardis Maune worked as an insurance sales agent for Defendant Bankers Life from April 16, 2007 until December 15, 2008. She was terminated from her employment with Bankers Life in December 2008.

On February 10, 2010, Maune filed her initial complaint, alleging discrimination and related conduct during that time period on the part of Bankers Life and about 45 other defendants. The action has since been reduced to an action for employment discrimination and retaliation, with Bankers Life as the sole defendant. Bankers Life now seeks summary judgment on the remaining claims. For the reasons stated below the Court will grant the motion.

BACKGROUND

Although the parties disagree about how the law should be applied to the facts of this case, there is little dispute over the facts themselves. Maune is a woman over age 40, born with a cleft pallet and cleft lip. She began working at Bankers Life in October 2001 in Vancouver, Washington. Maune was fired in 2005, after which she filed charges of discrimination against Bankers Life. This suit was settled, and Maune resumed working, on April 16, 2007, as a Bankers Life sales agent in Pocatello, Idaho. Bankers Life has submitted the contract Maune signed when she resumed employment, which includes a clause explicitly designating her as an independent contractor. Agent Contract at ¶ 4,Dkt. 247-4).

In early 2008, Maune sought the position of Pocatello branch sales manager. Bankers Life advertised for applications to permanently fill the branch sales manager position. According to Maune, the advertisement required a telephone interview with a Mr. Harmon and Mr. Carey, and Mr. Harmon was supposed to provide a video presentation for the branch sales manager position. But when Maune applied, Mr. Harmon did not give a video presentation, and Maune's interview with Mr. Harmon and Mr. Carey only lasted fifteen minutes. During this interview, which occurred in January or February 2008, Mr. Harmon foreclosed the possibility that Maune would get the job, stating that he could not believe that "he is wasting his time on this" and that Maune was "not going to get the job."

On March 31, 2008, Bankers Life sent Maune an email informing her that she would be given the additional responsibility of Field Trainer effective April 1, 2008. Later that month, on April 24, Bankers Life formally offered Todd Stevenson the Pocatello branch sales manager position. Todd Stevenson accepted the position, and he began his employment on June 1, 2008. At the time Stevenson accepted the position, he was under the age of 40.

On December 15, 2008, Bankers' Life terminated Ms. Maune's appointment as a Bankers Life sales agent. After her termination, Maune dual-filed a Discriminatory Charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Idaho Human Rights Commission (IHRC) on June 4, 2009. She then filed this suit in February 2010, alleging that Bankers Life discriminated and retaliated against her in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964(Title VII), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Idaho Human Rights Act (IHRA).

Maune alleges that while working as a Bankers Life sales agent, she was the victim of discrimination on the basis of her sex, her age, and her disability. Specifically, Maune alleges that Bankers Life discriminatorily failed to promote her to the position of Pocatello branch sales manager. She also alleges a great variety of other discriminatory acts on the part of Todd Stevenson, after he was hired to fill the branch sales manager position in June 2008.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate where a party can show that, as to any claim or defense, "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). One of the principal purposes of the summary judgment "is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims . . .." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). "[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). There must be a genuine dispute as to any material fact -- a fact "that may affect the outcome of the case." Id. at 248.

The evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and the Court must not make credibility findings. Id. at 255. Direct testimony of the non-movant must be believed, however implausible. Leslie v. Grupo ICA, 198 F.3d 1152, 1159 (9th Cir. 1999). On the other hand, the Court is not required to adopt unreasonable inferences from circumstantial evidence. McLaughlin v. Liu, 849 F.2d 1205, 1208 (9th Cir. 1988).

The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine dispute as to material fact. Devereaux v. Abbey, 263 F.3d 1070, 1076 (9th Cir. 2001)(en banc). To carry this burden, the moving party need not introduce any affirmative evidence (such as affidavits or deposition excerpts) but may simply point out the absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Fairbank v. Wunderman Cato Johnson, 212 F.3d 528, 532 (9th Cir.2000).

This shifts the burden to the non-moving party to produce evidence sufficient to support a jury verdict in her favor. Id. at 256-57. The non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and show "by her affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, or admissions on file" that a genuine dispute of material fact exists. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324.

Statements in a brief, unsupported by the record, cannot be used to create a factual dispute. Barnes v. Independent Auto. Dealers, 64 F.3d 1389, 1396 n.3 (9th Cir. 1995). The Circuit "has repeatedly held that documents which have not had a proper foundation laid to authenticate them cannot support a motion for summary judgment." Beyene v. Coleman Sec. Services, Inc., 854 F.2d 1179, 1182 (9th Cir.1988). Authentication, required by Federal Rule of Evidence 901(a), is not satisfied simply by attaching a document to an affidavit. Id. The affidavit ...


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