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Townsend v. Ganci

United States District Court, E.D. New York

February 27, 2017

Raymond A. Townsend, Appellant,
v.
Geralyn Ganci, Appellee.

          Appellant Raymond A. Townsend, pro se.

          Appellee Geralyn Ganci, pro se.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JOSEPH F. BIANCO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The instant case is a pro se appeal by Raymond A. Townsend (“Townsend” or “appellant”) from the May 16, 2016 summary judgment order of the Honorable Carla E. Craig, United States Bankruptcy Judge, holding that the debt owed by appellant to pro se appellee Geralyn Ganci (“Ganci” or “appellee”) is non-dischargeable pursuant to the Bankruptcy Code, 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(6). See In re Townsend, 550 B.R. 220 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 2016). The debt at issue stems from a civil judgment following a jury trial before this Court in Ganci v. U.S. Limousine Service Ltd., et al., 10-CV-3027 (JFB) (AKT) (E.D.N.Y.) (the “Civil Case”). On September 16, 2014, the jury found Townsend liable to Ganci for employment discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (“Title VII”), and New York law. (Civil Case, ECF No. 119.) The jury awarded Ganci $450, 000 in compensatory damages and $100, 000 in punitive damages against Townsend, and it also found that Townsend was not liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”). (Id.) The Court subsequently set aside the punitive damages award after determining that punitive damages against Townsend were not available under Title VII or New York law (id., ECF No. 143), and it granted Ganci $167, 478.50 in attorneys' fees and $3, 168 in costs, Ganci v. U.S. Limousine Service Ltd., 2015 WL 1529772, at *8 (E.D.N.Y. Apr. 2, 2015).

         The Clerk of the Court entered final judgment in the Civil Case on April 8, 2015. (Civil Case, ECF No. 148.) Thereafter, appellant filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on July 27, 2015. See Townsend, 550 B.R. at 223. Appellee then commenced an adversary proceeding seeking a determination that the Civil Case judgment is non-dischargeable (the “Adversary Proceeding”), id. at 224, which led to this appeal.

         For the reasons set forth below, having conducted a de novo review of the Bankruptcy Court's decision, the Court concludes that appellant's arguments are without merit and affirms the order of the Bankruptcy Court in its entirety.

         I. Background

         The Court summarizes the facts and procedural history relevant to the instant appeal.

         A. The Civil Case

         Ganci filed suit against Townsend in the Civil Case on July 1, 2010 alleging claims of employment discrimination based on sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and retaliation; as well as claims for IIED and negligent infliction of emotional distress. (Civil Case, ECF No. 1.) Townsend moved for summary judgment and spoliation sanctions on December 1, 2011 (id., ECF No. 38), and Ganci cross-moved for summary judgment on January 19, 2012 (id., ECF No. 43). In an oral ruling on September 10, 2012, this Court denied the parties' motions. (Id., ECF No. 54.) Of note, the Court held that a rational jury could find for Ganci on her employment discrimination claims because she had “stated under oath that Mr. Townsend sexually assaulted her on one occasion, that he sent unwanted, unsolicited, and unwelcome text messages and voice mails of sexually explicit nature over an extended period of time and attempted to compel sexual relations with her during that extended period of time.” (Id., ECF No. 57 at 12:17-22.)

         The Civil Case proceeded to a six-day jury trial from September 3, 2014 to September 16, 2014 on plaintiff's employment discrimination and IIED claims. (See id., ECF Nos. 105-16.) The jury returned a verdict on September 16, 2014, finding for Ganci on the employment discrimination claims and for Townsend on the IIED claim. (Id., ECF No. 119.) On the verdict form, the jury responded affirmatively to, inter alia, the following questions:

1. Did plaintiff prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Raymond Townsend subjected her to offensive acts or statements about sex?
2. Did plaintiff prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that she did not welcome the offensive acts or statements, which means that plaintiff did not directly or indirectly invite or solicit them by her own acts or statements?
3. Did plaintiff prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the offensive acts or statements were so severe or pervasive that they materially altered the terms and conditions of her employment?
4. Did plaintiff prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that a reasonable person-not someone who is overly sensitive-would have found that the offensive acts or statements materially altered the terms and conditions of the person's employment, which means that a reasonable person would have found the working conditions hostile and abusive?
5. Did plaintiff prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that she herself believed that the offensive acts or statements materially altered the terms and conditions of her employment, meaning that plaintiff believed that her work environment was hostile or abusive?
7. Did plaintiff prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that she was constructively discharged?
13. Did plaintiff prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Raymond Townsend acted with malicious intent to violate plaintiff's rights, or with reckless disregard of plaintiff's rights, such that ...

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