that he was qualified for the position of Associate Administrator. As a
matter of law, therefore, Douglas is unable to satisfy the second prong of
McDonnell-Douglas. Consequently, his age discrimination claim necessarily
2. Inference of Discrimination
Even were the Court to find that Douglas met the qualification element
of his prima facie case, the Court is not persuaded that he has satisfied
the fourth prong of McDonnell-Douglas: that his discharge occurred under
circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination. Douglas
relies on the Secretary's Comment, the Ramsey Comment, and the Saunders
Comment to meet his burden of proving he was dismissed under
circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination.
These three alleged comments are insufficient to create an inference of
age discrimination. First, Douglas is unable to provide the Court with
the context within which the Secretary's and Saunders Comments were
made. "Stray" comments do not raise an inference of discrimination. See
Ranieri v. Highland Falls-Fort Montgomery Sch. Dist., 198 F. Supp.2d 542,
545 (S.D.N.Y. April 18, 2002) (citing Spence v. Maryland Cas. Co.,
803 F. Supp. 649, 668 (W.D.N.Y. 1992), aff'd, 995 F.2d 1147 (2d Cir.
1993) ("Isolated and ambiguous statements are too abstract, in addition
to being irrelevant and prejudicial, to support a finding of age
discrimination")) Here, the Secretary's and Saunders Comments fall "well
within the parameters of `ambiguous' and `abstract.'" Ranieri, 198 F.
Supp.2d at 545. As such, the Secretary's and Saunders Comments do not
raise an inference of discrimination.
Second, Douglas's Response to Interrogatories and the October Letter
discredit Douglas's Affidavit regarding the Ramsey Comment. In Douglas's
Response to Interrogatories, he stated, "Zach Ramsey, in sum and
substance [sic]' specifically stated to plaintiff that `he (plaintiff)
had to be the fall guy for the monies embezzled by Jackie [Noble].'" In
this account of the conversation there is no mention whatsoever of any
age-based comment. In addition, the October Letter does not address the
Ramsey Comment, rather, Douglas wrote to Ramsey, "you told me I was the
`fall guy' for years of neglect and or oversight . . ." Given Douglas's
Response to Interrogatories and the October Letter, the Court discounts
Douglas's assertion that the Ramsey Comment was made. See F. Mancuso v.
Consol. Edison Co. of N.Y., Inc., 130 F. Supp.2d 584, 592 (S.D.N.Y. 2001)
("factual assertions made in an affidavit submitted in opposition to a
motion for summary judgment may be disregarded if those assertions are
contradicted by statements in response to interrogatories")
Moreover, assuming the validity of the Ramsey Comment, one statement
over the course of [Douglas's] employment is insufficient as a matter of
law to support an inference of discrimination." Clay v. N.Y. Nat'l Bank,
No. 99 Civ. 9857, 2001 WL 277299, at *1 n. 3 (S.D.N.Y. March 21, 2001)
(citing Woroski v. Nashua Corp., 31 F.3d 105, 109-10 (2d Cir. 1994)).
Also, the Court notes that Douglas was hired at the age of fifty-eight,
eighteen years within the protection of the ADEA, which weakens any
inference of age discrimination surrounding his discharge. See James v.
N.Y. Racing Assoc., 76 F. Supp.2d 250, 255 (E.D.N.Y. 1999).
Finally, had Douglas satisfied his burden of establishing a prima
facie case of discrimination, the Court nonetheless finds on the record
before it that the Fund provided a plethora of legitimate,
non-discriminatory reasons for his termination,
and that Douglas has presented no concrete evidence to establish that the
Fund's stated grounds were pretextual.
For the reasons documented above, it is hereby
ORDERED that the Fund's Motion for Summary Judgment be GRANTED.
The Clerk of Court is directed to close this case.