Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

GOURDINE v. CABRINI MEDICAL CENTER

March 9, 2004.

MONIQUE C. GOURDINE, Plaintiff against CABRINI MEDICAL CENTER, SIMON YOUNG, DPM, and SAMER BONDOKJI, DPM, Defendants


The opinion of the court was delivered by: VICTOR MARRERO, District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

Pro se plaintiff Dr. Monique C. Gourdine ("Gourdine") brings this action against her former employer, Cabrini Medical Center ("Cabrini") alleging discrimination, harassment, and retaliation on the grounds of race, gender, and military status in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"). The complaint further alleges breach of contract, fraud, and forgery. Also named as defendants are two of Cabrini's physicians, Drs. Simon Young ("Young") and Samer Bondokji ("Bondokji") (collectively, the "Individual Defendants," and together with Cabrini, "Defendants"). Cabrini and the Individual Defendants deny Gourdine's allegations and move this Court to dismiss her complaint on various grounds. For the reasons discussed in greater detail below, the Court grants the motion to dismiss the complaint in its entirety. Gourdine's claims are dismissed with prejudice, with the exception of her breach of contract claim, which is dismissed without prejudice. Page 2

I. BACKGROUND*fn1

  The instant action arises from Gourdine's employment as a medical resident at the Cabrini Medical Center in New York. Gourdine commenced a one-year residency at Cabrini's Department of Podiatry on July 1, 1999. Gourdine's employment was governed by a written agreement executed by Gourdine, an African-American female, and Cabrini. The agreement required Cabrini to provide an educational program that meets the standards of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and the Council on Podiatric Medical Education (the "CPME"). (See Def. Mem. at Ex. A, (the "Contract"), at 1.) The Contract provides that Gourdine's employment was to run from July 1, 1999 to June 30, 2000 and that "[t]here is no guarantee that a House Staff Officer will be offered a position at the next level." (Contract at 2, 8.)

  Gourdine commenced her employment in July 1999 pursuant to the Contract. She was one of four residents working in Cabrini's podiatric residency program at that time. One of the other residents was Bondokji, who is a white male. The Page 3 other two residents included a white male and an African American male. Young was the Director of Podiatry at the time of Gourdine's employment. Gourdine claims that during her residency at Cabrini, Bondokji harassed and ridiculed her by unfairly criticizing her work in front of others. According to Gourdine, she complained to Dr. Kanuck ("Kanuck"), the Chief Resident, and to Young, but they did nothing to correct the problem. At some point, Gourdine also spoke to personnel at Cabrini's Human Resources Department, but Gourdine claims that this did nothing to change the situation. Gourdine alleges that Young himself made inappropriate comments to her and in retaliation for her complaints, that she was treated less favorably than the other residents, that she received less training, and was not given her surgical certificate. Specifically, Gourdine points to a meeting where Young allegedly alluded to Gourdine's "big mouth." Gourdine recounts another incident at a social event where Young allegedly stated that Gourdine would have been better off marrying a Jewish man rather than an African-American man.

  To further establish her discrimination claim, Gourdine also asserts that she was given less desirable shifts and less training; was generally treated more harshly than the other residents; and was made to apologize to hospital personnel for matters that were not her fault. According to Page 4 Gourdine, Cabrini, and in particular, Young, did not properly accommodate her commitment as a reservist with the United States Navy. Gourdine claims that she and the other African-American resident were intentionally not invited to mandatory weekly meetings so that information could be withheld from them. According to Gourdine, Cabrini failed to follow its internal procedures for dealing with claims of harassment and discrimination.

  At the conclusion of the one-year residency in June of 2000, Cabrini had only one available position for a second-year podiatric resident, which was offered to Bondokji.*fn2 It is Gourdine's contention that Cabrini discriminated against her by not offering her a second-year position and instead, offering the only position to Bondokji, a white male. Gourdine claims that when her residency ended, she was wrongfully terminated without receiving her medical certificate, in breach of her the Contract and in retaliation for her complaining of how she was being treated at Cabrini. Gourdine asserts that she was led to believe that her one-year program was for a podiatric surgical residency, and not for a podiatric medical residency, as Cabrini asserts.

  Gourdine also alleges that the signatures on a Page 5 verification document that Cabrini relies upon to demonstrate that she was made aware that a second-year position was not guaranteed may have been forged (the "Verification Document").*fn3 She also alleges a claim of "possible fraud" in connection with the alleged forgery.

  In February 2001, Gourdine filed a complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), where she asserted the same claims of discrimination as in the instant action. After conducting an investigation, the EEOC notified Gourdine that it was unable to conclude that the information it obtained established any violation of Title VII. Accordingly, the EEOC ceased further investigation and issued Gourdine a "Right to Sue" letter, which is required to initiate an action in federal district court.

  Defendants contest that their treatment of Gourdine was any different from how they treated the other residents, either with regard to training or in any other fashion.*fn4 Cabrini disputes Gourdine's claim that she received less training than her colleagues. Defendants admit that Gourdine and Bondokji had some "personality conflicts," but they Page 6 contend that they attempted to address this issue in an equitable fashion. Defendants deny that Gourdine was ever treated unfairly in the process and that they discriminated against her in any way. According to Cabrini, Bondokji was the only resident selected for the second-year program because only one such position was available and it was determined that he was the best qualified to assume the position.

  Defendants further argue that there was no breach of the Contract because Gourdine completed her one-year residency under its terms and thus, she was not discharged. Defendants point to the clause in the Contract that specifically states that employment beyond the first year was not guaranteed and, relying on the Verification Document, claim that Gourdine was orally informed of this provision by Young and others on more than one occasion. According to Defendants, Gourdine inquired as to the possibility of a second-year residency, but was told by Young that no decision could be made until final approval for positions was granted by the CPME. Furthermore, Cabrini explains that Gourdine did not receive her surgical certificate because she did not complete the proper training, and that even if she had, Cabrini lacks the authority to issue the certificate.

  In the Complaint, Gourdine seeks unspecified damages, attorney's fees, her surgical certificate, and the salary that Page 7 she would have received had she been given her certificate. Gourdine alleges violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e et seq., breach of contract, forgery, and fraud.*fn5

  Pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss the Complaint on the grounds that the Complaint fails to meet the pleading requirements under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8. Defendants also seek dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and under Rule 12(b)(6) for the failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Gourdine opposes the motion.

  II. DISCUSSION

 A. DEFENDANTS' MOTION UNDER RULE 8

  Defendants move this Court to dismiss the Complaint in its entirety on the grounds that it fails to satisfy the strictures of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Specifically, Defendants argue that the Complaint neither sets forth "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" nor is " [e] ach averment . . . simple, concise and direct." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) & (e)(1). The Court does not agree.

  Although the Complaint may be cumbersome to read and Page 8 somewhat voluminous, especially when all the exhibits are taken into account, the Court finds that the pleadings are sufficiently organized and understandable for counsel to sift through and distill the salient allegations and claims, as this Court has endeavored to do. Perhaps such a submission may be unacceptable from a party represented by counsel. Gourdine, however, appears pro se. Thus, the Court grants her much greater leeway in this regard. Furthermore, despite their protestations that it would be unfair to require them to answer the Complaint, Defendants have indeed filed an answer setting forth their admissions, denials, and affirmative defenses. (See Def. Mem. at Ex. F.) Thus, the Court finds that there is no basis to dismiss the Complaint on these grounds. Defendants' motion to dismiss under Rule 8 is denied.

 B. STANDARD OF REVIEW

  In the alternative, Defendants move for dismissal under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). As the United States Supreme Court has explained, "[a] court may dismiss a complaint only if it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations." Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002) (citation omitted). When, as in this case, the plaintiff is not represented by counsel, the Page 9 Second Circuit has instructed courts to "construe [the complaint] broadly, and interpret [it] to raise the strongest arguments that ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.