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STYLIANOU v. ST. LUKE'S/ROOSEVELT HOSP. CTR.

October 17, 1995

STELLA STYLIANOU, Plaintiff, against ST. LUKE'S/ROOSEVELT HOSPITAL CENTER, Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: KOELTL

 JOHN G. KOELTL, District Judge:

 This case involves an alleged pattern of abusive conduct and eventual improper employment termination of the plaintiff, Stella Stylianou ("Stylianou"), by her employer, defendant St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital ("St. Luke's"). Stylianou alleges violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. ยงยง 621 et seq., by the defendant. She argues that her termination was motivated by her age. In addition, Stylianou asserts a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress against the hospital resulting from the actions surrounding her termination. The defendant moves for summary judgment dismissing only the latter cause of action and Stylianou's resulting claim for punitive damages.

 I.

 Summary judgment may not be granted unless "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 judgment as a matter of law." Fed R. Civ. P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986); Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., Ltd. Partnership, 22 F.3d 1219, 1223 (2d Cir. 1994). "The trial court's task at the summary judgment motion stage of the litigation is carefully limited to discerning whether there are any genuine issues of material fact to be tried, not to deciding them. Its duty, in short, is confined at this point to issue-finding; it does not extend to issue resolution." Gallo, 22 F.3d at 1224.

 The moving party bears the initial burden of "informing the district court of the basis for its motion" and identifying the matter that "it believes demonstrate[s] the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The substantive law governing the case will identify those facts which are material and "only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In determining whether summary judgment is appropriate, a court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences against the moving party. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986) (citing United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 8 L. Ed. 2d 176, 82 S. Ct. 993 (1962)); see also Gallo, 22 F.3d at 1223.

 If the moving party meets its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to come forward with "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). With respect to the issues on which summary judgment is sought, if there is any evidence in the record from any source from which a reasonable inference could be drawn in favor of the nonmoving party, summary judgment is improper. See Chambers v. TRM Copy Centers Corp., 43 F.3d 29, 37 (2d Cir. 1994).

 II.

 Stella Stylianou was employed by St. Luke's for over twenty years in different capacities. (See Am. Compl. PP 15, 16, 18.) At the time of her termination on May 6, 1992, Stylianou's title was Coordinator of Doctors' Private Offices. (See Am. Compl. PP 16, 17, 43.) Stylianou asserts that the circumstances which led to her eventual removal from that position began in February 1992, (Am. Compl. P 31), and resulted in her experiencing extreme emotional distress (Am. Compl. PP 41, 55, 63.)

 In February 1992, Stylianou's supervisor Rosita Juul, Director of Real Estate for St. Luke's, prepared Stylianou's annual performance appraisal for the previous year. (Aff. of Karen Stefflre, dated May 26, 1995 ("Stefflre Aff.") Ex. E.) Stylianou was directed, through a memorandum dated January 27, 1992, to schedule an appointment with Juul to receive her appraisal. (Stefflre Aff. Ex. C.) Stylianou did not schedule any such appointment. (Id.) Instead, Stylianou states that she contacted one of Juul's superiors, voicing concerns regarding Juul's ability to evaluate her fairly. (Aff. of Stella Stylianou, dated June 8, 1995 ("Stylianou Aff.") P 8, Ex. A.) Subsequently, a memorandum was hand delivered to Stylianou on February 11, stating that Juul had scheduled her performance appraisal for February 13. (Stefflre Aff., Ex. C.) Stylianou failed to appear for that appointment and failed to explain her absence to her supervisor. (Id.)

 A written disciplinary warning from Juul was hand delivered to Stylianou by an employee from the Human Resources Department. (Id.; Stylianou Aff. PP 12, 13.) The correspondence stated that if her performance did not improve, her employment could be terminated. On February 21, Juul and an employee from the Human Resources Department went to Stylianou's office to inform her that she was to report for her performance appraisal that day, which Stylianou did. (Stylianou Aff. PP 9, 14, Ex. B.)

 It is Stylianou's contention that these actions were a source of embarrassment to her in the St. Luke's work community. (Stylianou Aff. P 12.) She alleges that the visits by Juul and the employee from Human Resources were done in such a way so that all of her co-employees could observe her being disciplined and were used to intimidate, shock, and place pressure upon her. (Stylianou Aff. P 13.) In addition, Stylianou states that the usual practice followed by the Human Resources Department was to call an employee to the Department's offices if there were sensitive or disciplinary matters to be discussed. (Stylianou Aff. P 9.)

 On February 21, Juul gave Stylianou her performance evaluation. (Stylianou Aff. Ex. E.) The evaluation was highly critical of Stylianou's work. Specifically, it took issue with the quality of her work, her inability to meet time constraints, and her difficulty following directions. Stylianou took exception to the evaluation, calling it unfair and inappropriate. In addition, Stylianou restated her concerns regarding Juul's ability to assess her work.


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