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MARK v. MOUNT SINAI HOSP.

February 18, 2000

VIVIAN M. MARK, REBECCA A. MEYER, & CARMEN MAZA, PLAINTIFFS,
V.
THE MOUNT SINAI HOSPITAL, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Motley, District Judge.

    OPINION GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT

OPINION

Following oral argument on December 14, 1999 this court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment, thereby dismissing plaintiffs' case in its entirety. The following outlines the court's reasoning in granting summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

This case involves claims of breach of contract as well as employment discrimination based on gender, age and national origin. The case involves the consolidated claims of three plaintiffs, Vivian M. Mark, Rebecca A. Meyer and Carmen Maza. The three plaintiffs are female psychologists who were employed by the Communication Disorders Center ("CDC"), a treatment facility owned by the defendant, the Mount Sinai Hospital. The CDC is a treatment center for adults and children with speech and language disorders and learning disabilities. The plaintiffs all voluntarily resigned from their employment at the CDC. In this lawsuit plaintiffs claim that their resignations were constructive discharges. During the relevant time period Arnold I. Shapiro, a speech therapist, served as director of the CDC.

Meyer worked at the CDC from May of 1991 until she resigned in August of 1996. During her employment Meyer served as a clinical psychologist except for the period of July 1995 through May 1996 when she held the position of acting psychology coordinator. Mark worked as a psychologist at the CDC from April of 1992 until October of 1996. Maza worked as a psychologist at the CDC from 1990 to 1998.

All three plaintiffs claim defendant engaged in age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. ("ADEA") and the New York State Human Rights Law, Executive Law § 290 et seq. ("NYSHR"). Two plaintiffs, Meyer and Maza, allege that defendant engaged in gender discrimination in violation of NYSHR and Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"). Two plaintiffs, Meyer and Mark, allege defendant breached employment contracts by requiring employees to engage in activities violative of professional ethics. One plaintiff, Maza, alleges discrimination based on national origin in violation of Title VII and NYSHR. Plaintiff Maza also makes discrimination claims under Administrative Code §§ 8-107(1)(a) and 8-502(a) ("NYCHR").

STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

This circuit recognizes the value of summary judgment to expeditiously dispose of meritless litigation. See Quinn v. Syracuse Model Neighborhood Corp., 613 F.2d 438, 445 (2d Cir. 1980). The mechanism of summary judgment promotes judicial economy by preventing further litigation on an issue with an unalterably predetermined outcome. The standard for summary judgment ensures that issues are efficiently resolved without compromising the rights of the non-moving party.

Summary judgment may be granted only if the moving party can 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. The court must draw all reasonable inferences and resolve all ambiguities in favor of the non-moving party.

Ametex Fabrics, Inc. v. Just In Materials, Inc., 140 F.3d 101, 107 (2d Cir. 1998) (internal citations omitted). Thus, the mere existence of a factual dispute between parties does not preclude summary judgment when the dispute is not genuine or when the disputed facts are immaterial. A disputed fact is immaterial when the outcome of the case remains the same regardless of the disputed issue. Factual questions which prove immaterial fail to preclude summary judgment. See Knight v. U.S. Fire Insurance Co., 804 F.2d 9, 11 (2d Cir. 1986) (noting that the existence of unresolved immaterial issues does not suffice to defeat a motion for summary judgment).

A party may not rely on "mere speculation or conjecture as to the true nature of the facts to overcome a motion for summary judgment". Knight v. U.S. Fire Insurance Co., 804 F.2d 9, 11 (2d Cir. 1986).

Nor are judges any longer required to submit a question to a jury merely because some evidence has been introduced by the party having the burden of proof, unless the evidence be of such a character that it would warrant the jury in finding a verdict in favor of that party. Formerly it was held that if there was what is called a scintilla of evidence in support of a case the judge was bound to leave it to the jury, but recent decisions of high authority have established a more reasonable rule, that in every case, before the evidence is left to the jury, there is a preliminary question for the judge, not whether there is literally no evidence, but whether there is any upon which a jury could properly proceed to find a verdict for the party producing it, upon whom the onus of proof is imposed.

Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986) (internal citations omitted).

The possibility that a material issue of fact may exist does not suffice to defeat the motion; upon being confronted with a motion for summary judgment the party opposing it must set forth arguments or facts to indicate that a genuine issue — not merely one that is colorable — of material fact is present.

Gibson v. American Broadcasting Companies, 892 F.2d 1128, ...


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