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BEATTIE v. GUILDERLAND CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

December 14, 2000

PATRICIA BEATTIE, PLAINTIFF,
V.
THE GUILDERLAND CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT AND ROGER LEVINTHAL, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND REPRESENTATIVE CAPACITY, AND AS AIDER AND ABETTOR, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hurd, U.S. District Judge.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

On March 9, 1998, plaintiff Patricia Beattie ("Beattie" or "plaintiff') commenced the instant action against defendants Farnsworth Middle School,*fn1 the Guilderland Central School District (the "District"), Blaise Salerno, Deborah Marcil ("Marcil"), Roger Levinthal ("Levinthal" or "defendant"), Nancy Davis, Peggy Donovan, and William Adams, pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 626, et seq., Section 296(6) of the New York Human Rights Law, ("NYHRL"), and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1985, and against the District pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., asserting causes of action for harassment based on sex and age, retaliation, and conspiracy to deprive Beattie of her right to equal protection under the law.

Defendants filed a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the complaint in its entirety, which was granted by the Honorable Lawrence E. Kahn of the Northern District of New York as to all defendants except the District and Levinthal. As to the two remaining defendants, Judge Kahn dismissed Beattie's ADEA and sexual harassment claims, but allowed her to proceed with her retaliation claims against Levinthal and the District under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and NYHRL § 296, and against the District under Title VII.

Levinthal now moves for summary judgment on all claims against him, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Plaintiff opposes. Oral argument was heard on August 25, 2000, in Albany, New York. Decision was reserved.

II. FACTS

This action arises out of the alleged sexual harassment of Beattie by Levinthal, and the retaliation of Levinthal and the District against Beattie for her complaints to Marcil, who was then acting principal at Farnsworth Middle School, regarding the harassment by Levinthal.*fn2

Levinthal was, and is, an art teacher at the Farnsworth Middle School in the District. In addition to his position as an art teacher, he also served at various times as (1) an acting and/or house principal at Mohawk House and Hiawatha House (two of the four "houses" at Farnsworth Middle School); (2) alternate chair of the District's Committee on Special Education; and (3) the District's official coordinator of an annual field trip to the former Riverside Amusement Park in Agawam, Massachusetts (now known as "Six Flags New England.").

Both parties made complaints concerning sexual harassment by the other in June of 1996. In addition, Beattie asserts that she complained to Marcil in January 1996, and was told by the acting principal that Levinthal admitted hugging and kissing Beattie, but that the defendant was Marcil's friend, he had a nice wife, and that Beattie should give him his "space." Mardil contradicts this version of events, testifying at her deposition that Levinthal came to her in January 1996, complaining of Beattie's harassing conduct. According to Marcil, she spoke with plaintiff about her conduct, not Levinthal's, and that she instructed plaintiff to "stay physically away from Mr. Levinthal" and "that she refrain from any gift giving at all." See March 29, 1999, Deposition of Deborah Marcil at 136. Marcil denied that Levinthal admitted hugging and kissing Beattie, but admitted that she told plaintiff that Levinthal had a nice wife.

The District retained attorney Thomas Kenney ("Kenney") to conduct an investigation of the respective June 1996, complaints of Beattie and Levinthal. Commencing in August 1996, Kenney interviewed both Beattie and Levinthal, as well as numerous persons identified as witnesses, and following his investigation, concluded that Levinthal's claims were meritorious and that Beattie's claims were not.*fn3 Kenney orally reported these findings to the Human Resources Administrator for the District, William Adams, on December 18, 1996. Subsequently, on or about March 12, 1997, the District adopted Kenney's findings and plaintiff received a written reprimand about her conduct. She then filed a complaint of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and after receiving a "Right to Sue" letter on December 2, 1997, commenced the instant lawsuit.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A. Summary Judgment

A moving party is entitled to summary judgment "if 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). The ultimate inquiry is whether a reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party based on the evidence presented, the legitimate inferences that could be drawn from that evidence in favor of the nonmoving party, and the applicable burden of proof. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). In determining a motion for summary judgment, all inferences to be drawn from the facts contained in the exhibits and depositions "must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S.Ct. 993, 8 L.Ed.2d 176 (1962); Hawkins v. Steingut, 829 F.2d 317, 319 (2d Cir. 1987). Nevertheless, "the litigant opposing ...


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