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Deborah Lugo v. Huntington Memorial Hospital

October 7, 2011

DEBORAH LUGO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HUNTINGTON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, A CORPORATION; EDNA DELEON, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dean D. Pregerson United States District Judge

NO JS-6

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [Dkt. Nos. 18, 22]

Presently before the court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. Having considered the submissions of the parties and heard oral argument, the court grants the motion and adopts the following order.

I. Background*fn1

Plaintiff Deborah Lugo ("Lugo") began working at Huntington Memorial Hospital ("Huntington") as a Quality Management Specialist ("QMS") on September 17, 2007.*fn2 (Deposition of Deborah Lugo ("Lugo Depo.") at 190; Declaration of Edna DeLeon ("DeLeon Dec.) ¶ 4.) As a Quality Management Specialist, Lugo was responsible for monitoring and improving physician performance. (DeLeon Dec. ¶¶ 5-8.) Defendant Edna DeLeon served as Lugo's supervisor. (DeLeon Dec. ¶ 4.)

At some point between September 2007 and July 2008, Lugo's supervisors, including Huntington's Chair of Cardiology, grew concerned about deficiencies in Lugo's work performance. (DeLeon Dec. ¶¶ 9-10.) On August 15, 2008, following a Human Resources investigation, Lugo received a written warning regarding her job performance. (Exhibit B to Plaintiff's Motion.) Approximately seven months later, on March 19, 2009, Lugo received a second written warning regarding "continued medical review errors."*fn3 (Exhibit C to Mot.) In April 2009, Huntington's Medical Staff Coordinator submitted a written complaint about Lugo to DeLeon, requesting that Lugo be relieved of certain responsibilities. (Exhibit D to Mot.) On June 2, 2009, Lugo received a third and final written warning regarding "Continued Job Performance Concerns," including delays, inappropriate and unprofessional communications, and incomplete work product. (Exhibit E to Mot.)

In June 2009, Huntington decided to eliminate several positions across several departments, including a Quality Management Specialist position. (Declaration of Paula Verrette, MD ¶¶ 10, 12.) Lugo was the lowest-performing Quality Management Specialist, and was therefore laid-off. (Verrette Dec. ¶ 12.) Huntington eliminated Lugo's former position entirely, and therefore has not hired anyone to take Lugo's place. (Id. ¶ 13.)

Lugo filed the instant suit against Defendants, alleging race discrimination, failure to pay overtime, failure to provide mean and rest periods, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Defendants now move for summary judgment on all claims.

II. Legal Standard

A motion for summary judgment must be granted when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion and of identifying those portions of the pleadings and discovery responses that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

Where the moving party will have the burden of proof on an issue at trial, the movant must affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party. On an issue as to which the nonmoving party will have the burden of proof, however, the movant can prevail merely by pointing out that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. See id. If the moving party meets its initial burden, the non-moving party must set forth, by affidavit or as otherwise provided in Rule 56, "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). The evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in its favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 242.

It is not the court's task "to scour the record in search of a genuine issue of triable fact." Keenan v. Allan, 91 F.3d 1275, 1278 (9th Cir. 1996). Counsel have an obligation to lay out their support clearly. Carmen v. San Francisco Sch. Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1031 (9th Cir. 2001). The court "need not examine the entire file for evidence establishing a genuine issue of fact, where the evidence is not set forth in the opposition papers with adequate references so that it could conveniently be found." Id. III. Discussion

As an initial matter, the court notes that Lugo has submitted very little comprehensible or admissible evidence. Lugo's Exhibit A is an unauthenticated e-mail from one Joshua Barbosa, which appears to consist of opinion regarding Defendant DeLeon, the relevance of which is unclear. Lugo's Exhibit B, which is also unauthenticated, appears to be a list of Quality Management Specialists, as well as a chart described at note 3, supra. Exhibit C, also unauthenticated, appears to include evaluations of Lugo's suitability for a Quality Management Specialist position prior to her employment at Huntington. Exhibit D, also unauthenticated, appears to be a list of certain employees and their races. The court cannot, and does not, consider any of these documents for purposes of this motion. Orr v. Bank of America, NT & SA, 285 F.3d 764, 773 (9th Cir. 2002). The court further notes that self-serving, uncorroborated testimony cannot create a genuine issue sufficient to defeat summary judgment. Villiarimo v. Aloha Island Air, Inc., 281 F.3d 1054, 1061 (9th Cir. 2002).

A. Race Discrimination To defeat a motion for summary judgment, a plaintiff alleging discrimination bears the burden to establish a prima facie case. That is, he "must offer evidence that gives rise to an inference of unlawful discrimination." Godwin v. Hunt Wesson, Inc., 150 F.3d 1217, 1220 (9th Cir. 1998) (internal quotation omitted). A prima facie case may be based on direct evidence of discriminatory intent or on a ...


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