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Manhart v. Madison Memorial Hospital

United States District Court, D. Idaho

February 19, 2014

GINA MANHART, an individual, Plaintiff,
v.
MADISON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, a hospital owned and operated by Madison County, Idaho, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER RE: DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEY FEES (Docket No. 33)

RONALD E. BUSH, Magistrate Judge.

Now pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Attorney Fees (Docket No. 33). Having carefully considered the record and otherwise being fully advised, the Court enters the following Memorandum Decision and Order:

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Gina Manhart ("Manhart") worked at Defendant Madison Memorial Hospital ("Madison Memorial") as a nurse from September 2003 until she voluntarily resigned in May 2007. This lawsuit relates to her unsuccessful attempt to be re-hired in 2009.

Manhart claimed that on or around November 2, 2009, the North Fork Surgery Center (then in the process of being acquired by Madison Memorial) asked if she was interested in working there as a nurse. Manhart claimed she contacted Madison Memorial to follow up on the offer and learned that a "no re-hire" notation had been placed in her personnel file based on excessive absenteeism while pregnant during her previous employment with Madison Memorial. Manhart did not get the job. She claimed that "[t]he decision to place her on the "no re-hire" status was clearly related to her pregnancies as was the decision to not hire her for the vacant position in contravention of State and Federal law."

Manhart sued Madison Memorial, asserting the following causes of action: (1) gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act; (2) gender discrimination in violation of the Idaho Human Rights Act; (3) retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act; (4) retaliation in violation of the Idaho Human Rights Act; (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress; and (6) negligent infliction of emotional distress.

On January 24, 2012, this Court granted, in part, Madison Memorial's first motion for summary judgment and dismissed Manhart's state law gender discrimination and retaliation claims.[1] Through a second motion for summary judgment, Madison Memorial sought to dismiss Manhart's remaining claims. On March 14, 2013, this Court granted Madison Memorial's second motion for summary judgment and dismissed Manhart's federal gender discrimination and retaliation claims, as well as her intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress claims. A Judgment followed on March 19, 2013, dismissing Manhart's claims with prejudice.

On March 27, 2013, Madison Memorial filed a Bill of Costs (Docket No. 32) and the at-issue Motion for Attorney Fees (Docket No. 33). Manhart opposes Madison Memorial's Motion for Attorney Fees (Docket No. 34).[2]

II. DISCUSSION

Madison Memorial seeks attorney fees under 42 U.S.C. § 200e-5(k) and I.C. § 12-121. Both statutes vest in district courts the discretion to award a prevailing defendant a reasonable attorney fee upon finding that the plaintiff's action was "frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation." See Christiansburg Garment Co. v. EEOC, 434 U.S. 412, 421 (1978); Hoagland v. Ada Cnty., 303 P.3d 587, 603 (Idaho 2013). With this standard in mind, Madison Memorial argues that it is entitled to its attorney fees as the prevailing party on Manhart's Title VII claims and state law claims.

A. Manhart's Title VII Claims

1. Gender Discrimination

Under the familiar burden-shifting framework set out in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973), a plaintiff alleging disparate treatment under Title VII must first establish a prima facie case of discrimination by offering evidence that "give[s] rise to an inference of unlawful discrimination." E.E.O.C. v. Boeing Co., 577 F.3d 1044, 1049 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing Texas Dep't of Cmty. Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 253 (1981)). A prima facie case may be established either by (1) providing direct ...


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