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CARROLL v. BAYERISCHE LANDESBANK

May 29, 2001

MAUREEN CARROLL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BAYERISCHE LANDESBANK, BLB CAPITAL, LLC, RONALD ALDO BERTOLINI, JOHN WARDEN, BERT VON STUELPNAGEL, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS AT END OF PLAINTIFF'S CASE

Plaintiff Maureen Carroll filed this action on April 21, 1999 against defendants, Bayerische Landesbank ("Bayerisehe"), BLB Capital, LLC ("BLB"), Ronald Aldo Bertolini ("Bertolini"), John Warden ("Warden"), and Bert von Stuelpnagel ("von Stuelpnagel"), alleging discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual harassment, and retaliatory discharge in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), New York State Human Rights Law, Executive Law § 296 et seq., and the New York City Human Rights Law, Administrative Code § 8-107. Plaintiff also alleges intentional infliction of extreme emotional distress, breach of contract, assault and battery, and defamation, all in violation of New York state law.

On August 26, 1999, Judge Wood granted defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's Title VII claims against the individual defendants but denied motions to dismiss plaintiff's intentional infliction of extreme emotional distress claim and defamation claim. On December 13, 2000, this court denied defendants' motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's remaining claims and denied plaintiff's cross-motion for partial summary judgment.

A jury trial in this matter commenced on May 14, 2001. On May 24, 2001, at the close of plaintiff's case, defendants moved for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on plaintiff's claims of sexual harassment, retaliation, breach of contract, defamation, assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. After hearing the parties argue defendants' motion orally, this court, for the reasons that follow, DENIED the motion as to plaintiff's sexual harassment, retaliation, breach of contract, defamation, and assault and battery claims and GRANTED the motion as to plaintiff's intentional infliction of emotional distress claim.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a former female executive of defendant banking institutions Bayerische and BLB ("bank defendants"). Defendant Bertolini was a vice president and treasurer of Bayerische and had the responsibility of overseeing the registration of BLB as a securities broker/dealer. Defendant John Warden was a non-managerial employee of Bayerische and BLB in the computer department. Defendant von Stuelpnagel was executive vice president of Bayerische and a manager of BLB.

On April 10, 1998, plaintiff entered into an employment contract with bank defendants and began work on May 1, 1998. She was made a vice-president of Bayerische and president of BLB. Prior to the time when plaintiff was hired, BLB had been incorporated as a wholely-owned subsidiary of Bayerische but had not been registered to sell securities by any federal agency or the National Association of Securities Dealers ("NASD"). Plaintiff's primary responsibility was to make the required government filings for the registration of BLB as an in-house securities broker for Bayerische.

Plaintiff testified that soon after she began working at BLB, she was subjected to hostile and degrading remarks and threats over a four-week period and that she was fired after she complained about these remarks. Plaintiff testified that Bertolini would frequently inquire about plaintiff's past sexual relationships and dating practices. On one occasion, Bertolini allegedly told plaintiff that, "you have to be a whore to keep your job," and suggested that she sleep with the President of Bayerische to ensure her continued employment. Bertolini also allegedly told plaintiff that she was a "thick headed Irish woman who has a problem getting along with men," that "it is important to have a penis whether it is hard or soft," and that he would derive "extreme pleasure in pulling [plaintiff's] hair out, one strand at a time." Plaintiff also testified that she did not receive the required support from Bertolini in getting BLB registered. In addition, plaintiff testified that she was never provided with business cards, stationary, an office, or other support services commonly provided to male executives.

On June 3, 1998, plaintiff reported Bertolini's remarks to Bayerische's general counsel. The next day, plaintiff has testified that John Warden heatedly stormed into her office and jabbed her with his finger and physically pushed and shoved her against her office door. Allegedly this was done at the direction of Bertolini. The following day, June 5, 1998, plaintiff received a memorandum from von Stuelpnagel that accused her of, among other things, assaulting Warden and abusing Bertolini. On June 8 and 9, 1998, plaintiff met with von Stuelpnagel, who interrogated her about her alleged conduct, but refused to discuss plaintiff's complaints of sexual harassment. Plaintiff testified that defendants never conducted any investigation into her complaints of sexual harassment. On June 11, 1998, plaintiff's employment was terminated. Plaintiff was not provided with the continuation salary mentioned in the addendum to plaintiff's letter of employment.

II. DISCUSSION

Defendants seek judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendants argue that the evidence plaintiff has presented at trial does not provide a "legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find for [plaintiff]" on her claims of (A) sexual harassment, (B) retaliation, (C) breach of contract, (D) defamation, (B) assault and battery, and (F) intentional infliction of emotional distress. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(a)(1).

A. Sexual Harassment

Defendants argue for judgment as a matter of law on plaintiff's sexual harassment claims under Title VII and New York state and city law. This court finds that plaintiff has presented sufficient evidence at trial from which a reasonable jury could find that defendants' conduct constituted sexual harassment and from which the jury could ...


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