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LEWIS v. BOOZ-ALLEN & HAMILTON

June 20, 2001

RONALD O. LEWIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BOOZ-ALLEN & HAMILTON, INC. DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina, United States District Judge.

    MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION IN LIMINE; DENYING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STRIKE BERNARD SISKIN AS AN EXPERT WITNESS; DENYING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

I. INTRODUCTION

This section 1981 matter comes before the court on three motions: the defendant's motion for summary judgment, the defendant's motion to exclude certain statistical evidence, and the plaintiff's motion to strike Dr. Bernard Siskin as an expert witness. The plaintiff, Ronald O. Lewis (the plaintiff or Mr. Lewis), brings suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, claiming that Booz-Allen & Hamilton (the defendant or Booz-Allen) refused to promote him, fired him, and engaged in unlawful discrimination against him because of his race. Since a motion for summary judgment requires an examination of the entire record, including all pleadings and all admissible evidence,*fn1 the court will first address the evidentiary motions. Upon consideration of these motions, their supporting documents, and the entire record therein, the court will deny in part and grant in part the defendant's motion to exclude statistical evidence. In addition, the court will deny the plaintiff's motion to strike Dr. Bernard Siskin as an expert witness. Lastly, because a genuine issue exists as to a material fact, the court will deny the defendant's motion for summary judgment.

II. BACKGROUND

Ronald O. Lewis, an African-American man, is an information-technology professional with a bachelor's degree in Engineering and a Master's degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research. See Am. Compl. & 2. Booz-Allen, a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Virginia, is an international management and technology consulting firm with more than 100 offices around the world and more than 9,000 employees. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 3; Ans. to Am. Compl. (Ans.) ¶¶ 2, 3. In 1994, Booz-Allen hired Mr. Lewis, who worked at the company for five years until it fired him in 1999. See Am. Compl. & 1, 49.

Booz-Allen is divided into two business units: the Worldwide Technology Business (WTB), where Mr. Lewis worked, and the Worldwide Commercial Business (WCB). See Am. Compl. & 6; Mot. for Summ. J. at 3. WTB is divided into five client-service teams, which provide consulting services to government clients. See id. Accordingly, Booz-Allen must operate in conformance with both federal laws*fn2 and its own ethics rules.*fn3 See Mot. for Summ. J. at 4.
In January 1994, Booz-Allen hired Mr. Lewis at a salary of $80,000 to work as a Senior Associate in its Lexington Park, Maryland office. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 4, Ex. 9; Pl.'s Opp'n to Mot. for Summ. J. (Pl.'s Opp'n) at 2. The company considers Senior Associates, Principals and Vice Presidents as management, and lists five criteria for promotion to partnership: business development, client relationship, technical ability, people development, and leadership. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 5; Pl.'s Opp'n at 2.

During his first two years at Booz-Allen, Mr. Lewis performed well by all accounts. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 5; Pl.'s Opp'n at 11. Despite some concerns about his personnel-management skills, his superiors rated Mr. Lewis's first-year performance as excellent or exceptional in every category. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 5. Mr. Lewis's overall performance earned him a $5,000 raise. See id. The following year Booz-Allen promoted Mr. Lewis to Principal and awarded him another $5,000 raise. See id.

While managing the performance of the ITS contract, Mr. Lewis learned of Nereus, a commercial off the shelf (COTS) product created by Vicom Multimedia, a Canadian company. See Pl.'s Opp'n at 25. Nereus is a multimedia publishing system that can be used in the ITS program rather than creating new software. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 10; Pl.'s Opp'n at 25. Mr. Lewis conducted negotiations with Vicom Multimedia to purchase the multimedia software and visited Vicom's headquarters in Edmonton, Alberta in May 1997. See Pl.'s Opp'n at 25. After Vicom demonstrated the product, Mr. Lewis told Vicom that Booz-Allen would want to use the software on the ITS program if the Air Force approved its use and purchase. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 25.

Booz-Allen's original bid to the Air Force did not include the purchase of software. See Pl.'s Opp'n at 25-26. Rather, it entailed the in-house development of software for use in the ITS program. See id. Between May and August of 1997, Mr. Lewis, along with Jerry Keybl and Brian Padgett, conducted an evaluation of the Nereus software to determine whether it was suitable for the ITS program, and whether Booz-Allen could justify the software purchase to the Air Force. See Pl.'s Opp'n at 26. On July 8, 1997, during an in-progress review, Mr. Lewis informed the Air Force of Booz-Allen's intention to use the Nereus software on the ITS program. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 26, Ex. 102; Pl.'s Opp'n at Ex. M, Ex. O.

On July 31, 1997, Sharon Hines, Vicom's primary negotiator, sent a letter (the July 31 letter) to Mr. Lewis concerning the status of negotiations. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 9. The July 31 letter was a business proposal sent to outline the framework for an acceptable business relationship, and included a proposal for the scope of the software license, the price of the license, and the length of an evaluation period for the Pilot Project. See id. On August 7, 1997, at another in-progress review, Booz-Allen formally recommended to the Air Force that it authorize purchase of the Nereus software. See id. at 10; Pl.'s Opp'n at 27. On August 28, 1997, Mr. Lewis sent a document entitled Justification for Purchase of the Nereus Software recommending that the Government utilize the software because it would save the Government money. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 10. The next day, Ms. Hines confirmed in a letter dated August 29 (the August 29 letter) that the two parties had work[ed] out the details of a business relationship, which included the potential purchase of the software license. See id. at 10. The August 29 letter stated that if the Nereus software passed the 90-day evaluation, Booz-Allen would buy the software license. See id. The letter included a Pilot Program Agreement, which stated that the evaluation period would begin on September 15 and end no later than December 15, 1997. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 11. On September 22, the government sent written approval to purchase the software. See id; Pl.'s Opp'n at 28.

Less than two weeks later, on October 2, 1997, the government issued a Stop Work order on the ITS Contract, instructing Booz-Allen to halt work on the project. See Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. 20. The government indicated that funding cuts made it necessary to reassess the status of the ITS program. See id.

In November 1997, Mr. Lewis began to organize an effort to bid for another Air Force contract called Trac2es.*fn4 See Mot. for Summ. J. at 6; Pl.'s Opp'n at 15. Trac2es was a large system-integration project with a contract valued at $300 million over a 10-year time frame. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 7; Pl.'s Opp'n at 15. Mr. Lewis served as the project's proposal manager. See id.

During this bidding period, Mr. Lewis says he encountered various forms of discrimination, including that (1) Mr. Lewis's manager, Mr. Picarelli, declined to provide routine support to Lewis when Mr. Lewis was having trouble keeping his staff billable*fn5; (2) Mr. Lewis invited Mr. Picarelli, who did not attend, to a Red Team review meeting to critique the proposal and provide input; and (3) Mr. Picarelli did not attend any of the practice sessions for the oral presentation that Mr. Lewis was preparing. See Pl.'s Opp'n at 15. Finally, Mr. Picarelli allegedly told Mr. Lewis that he had to win the Trac2es or another important contract (known as the AETC project) to have a future at Booz-Allen. See Pl.'s Opp'n at 15.

In May 1998, Mr. Lewis received another performance appraisal in which he received an overall evaluation of maintaining.*fn6 See Mot. for Summ. J. at 7. The appraisal detailed the strengths and weaknesses of Mr. Lewis's performance, including that his staff perceived him as: (1) taking credit for his staff's work or successes (this has generated dissatisfaction); (2) claiming credit for his client's work; (3) offending the client (resulting in the client's refusal to work with him); and (4) disregarding what other people think is important about a client relationship or issue. See id. Mr. Lewis received this appraisal during a counseling session with Mr. Picarelli and Mr. Bollettino, in which they discussed the problems with his performance, including his alleged shortcomings in areas of leadership and people development. See id. They suggested he attend leadership counseling. See id. After submitting the Trac2es proposal to the Air Force, Mr. Lewis met with a member of Booz-Allen's Board of Directors, Joe Garner, to discuss how he had been treated during the course of the proposal. See id. Mr. Garner's response to Lewis was that Booz-Allen had a tough culture that wasn't fore [sic] everybody. See Pl.'s Opp'n at 16. Soon after that meeting, in August 1998, the Air Force awarded the contract to Booz-Allen and Mr. Lewis decided to remain at the firm. See Pl.'s Opp'n at 16; Mot. for Summ. J. at 7. The company named Mr. Lewis the program manager of the contract. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 7. In October 1998, Brian Padgett, Mr. Lewis's subordinate, resigned and notified Booz-Allen that Mr. Lewis had instructed him to backdate (by 60 days) two separate dates in a document. See id.; Pl.'s Opp'n at 32. The document in question was the August 29, 1997 letter setting forth the terms of the business relationship between Booz-Allen and Vicom Multimedia concerning the potential purchase of the Nereus software license for use in the ITS contract. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 8; Pl.'s Opp'n at 32.
Mr. Padgett later provided Art Fritzon, an IT team Vice President, with supporting documents and information about the backdated document. Mr. Padgett also told Mr. Fritzon that Mr. Lewis had instructed him to obtain a copy of the letter with the changed dates after the Government had issued a stop-work order for the ITS contract. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 8; Pl.'s Opp'n at 32. Mr. Fritzon went to see Mr. Lewis about the document at issue. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 8; Pl.'s Opp'n at 33. Mr. Lewis admitted that he caused the dates on the documents to be changed for the Termination of Convenience claim being submitted to the government for reimbursement of the ITS contract costs. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 8; Pl.'s Opp'n at 33. Mr. Lewis explained that he had the dates changed in order to better reflect the reality, that they had in fact, been evaluating the product all summer long, and that changing the dates was a more accurate reflection of what had actually occurred. See Pl.'s Opp'n at 33; Mot. for Summ. J. at 15. The primary issue concerned whether Booz-Allen, in fact, evaluated the Nereus software product in July and August 1997, and whether Booz-Allen made a commitment to Vicom to pay it for the ITS license. See id.

In accordance with Booz-Allen policies and procedures, Mr. Fritzon referred the matter to the Booz-Allen Law Department for investigation. See Mot. for Summ. J. at 8. Ivy Martin, Booz-Allen's Associate General Counsel, conducted an internal investigation. See id. As part of that investigation, Ms. Martin wanted to determine whether Mr. Lewis had said truthfully that he had made ...


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