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MORGAN v. FEDERAL HOME LOAN MORTG. CORP.
October 23, 2001
TONY MORGAN, PLAINTIFF,
FEDERAL HOME LOAN MORTGAGE CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Huvelle, District Judge.
Plaintiff Tony Morgan, a black male, was employed by the Federal Loan
Home Mortgage Corporation ("Freddie Mac") from January 1995 to March
1996. In anticipation of and after his termination on March 31, 1996,
plaintiff applied for a number of positions with Freddie Mac but was not
hired. On June 3, 1998, plaintiff filed a complaint, alleging
discriminatory and retaliatory refusals to hire in violation of Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, codified as amended at
42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and the District of
Columbia Human Rights Act, D.C.Code. § 2-1401.01 et seq. ("DCHRA").
Defendants have moved for summary judgment on the grounds that, inter
alia, the DCHRA claims are time-barred; plaintiff released any claims
arising prior to April 7, 1996; and plaintiff has failed to present
sufficient facts to establish a prima facie case of discrimination or
retaliation. As explained more fully below, this Court concludes that
defendants' motion should be granted.
Plaintiff was employed as Director, Corporate Relations-Executive by
Freddie Mac at its McLean, Virginia headquarters from January 17, 1995 to
March 31, 1996. Freddie Mac terminated his employment on March 31, 1996,
as a result of a reduction-in-force. In exchange for six additional
months of severance pay and outplacement assistance, plaintiff executed a
"Release of All Claims," effective April 7, 1996 (the "Release"). Prior
to and after executing the Release, plaintiff expressed interest in and
applied for a number of positions at Freddie Mac, but was unsuccessful in
his attempts to obtain re-employment.
Based on these refusals to hire, on December 11, 1996, plaintiff
cross-filed discrimination complaints with the Fairfax County Human
Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
("EEOC"). Plaintiffs EEOC complaint alleged racial discrimination in his
non-selection for a variety of positions. On January 10, 1997, plaintiff
filed a complaint with the D.C. Department of Human
Rights, alleging discrimination on the basis of his Democratic Party
affiliation in his non-selection for the positions of Director,
Government Relations and Director, Industry Relations. After filing these
complaints, plaintiff applied for a number of additional positions at
Freddie Mac, but was not offered employment.
On June 3, 1998, plaintiff brought a class action lawsuit alleging,
inter alia, harassment based on race and discriminatory and retaliatory
refusal to hire under Title VII, Section 1981, and the DCHRA. The case
was originally assigned to the Honorable Thomas Penfield Jackson. After
months of discovery regarding the class claims, a statement was filed on
February 1, 1999, indicating that "plaintiffs counsel have determined not
to proceed at this time with moving to certify a class under Rule 23
. . . ." Thereafter, the case was reassigned to the undersigned. On November
9, 2000, this Court granted defendants' motion to dismiss the counts
against defendants Leland Brendsel and John Gibbons. Following many
months of protracted discovery disputes, which were ably managed by
Magistrate Judge John Facciola, plaintiffs counsel moved to withdraw
based on irreconcilable differences with plaintiff. This motion was
ultimately granted on January 25, 2001. This withdrawal necessitated
further delays in discovery so as to permit plaintiff to find new
counsel. With the appearance of new counsel, discovery was finally
completed and the case is now ripe for summary judgment consideration.
Despite this tortured history, the issues have now been narrowed
considerably. As noted, there are no class claims. There is no issue as
to the validity (as opposed to the interpretation) of the Release signed
by the plaintiff, and thus, plaintiffs claims as to discrimination and
harassment during his tenure at Freddie Mac are no longer at issue. Two
of the three individual defendants have been dismissed, and plaintiff has
conceded that he is no longer pursuing any claims regarding his
nonselection for seven out of the fifteen positions that had been
included in his complaint.*fn1
Left for consideration are claims relating to eight positions, four of
which plaintiff applied for but was rejected prior to signing a Release.
The only remaining defendants are Freddie Mac and its Vice-President of
Government and Industry Relations, Mitchell Delk. The legal claims
include discriminatory refusal to hire on the basis of race and political
affiliation and retaliation in violation of Title VII (Count I), Section
1981 (Count II) and the DCHRA (Count III).
Defendants have moved for summary judgment on all remaining claims on
the grounds that: (1) plaintiffs DCHRA claims are time-barred; (2) the
Release bars those claims concerning non-selections occurring prior to
April 7, 1996; and (3) plaintiff has failed to establish a prima facie
case of discrimination or retaliation on the grounds that the positions
at issue were either not available, were never filled, or plaintiff
lacked the necessary qualifications for the position.
I. Summary Judgment Standard
Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, a motion for summary judgment shall be granted
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file,
and affidavits show that there is no genuine issue of material fact, and
that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). In considering a motion for summary judgment, the
"evidence of the nonmovant is to be believed, and all justifiable
inferences are to be drawn in his favor. Id. at 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505; see
also Washington Post Co. v. United States Dep't of Health and Human
Servs., 865 F.2d 320, 325 (D.C.Cir. 1989).
The nonmovant's opposition, however, must consist of more than mere
unsupported allegations or denials and must be supported by affidavits or
other competent evidence setting forth specific facts showing that there
is a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The
nonmovant must provide evidence that would permit a reasonable jury to
find in his favor. Laningham v. United States Navy, 813 F.2d 1236, 1241
(D.C.Cir. 1987). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not
significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Liberty
Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-50, 106 S.Ct. 2505 (citations omitted). "While
summary judgment must be approached with special caution in
discrimination cases, a plaintiff is not relieved of [his] obligation to
support [his] allegations by affidavits or other competent evidence
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Calhonn v. Johnson,
1998 WL 164780 at *3 (D.D.C. March 31, 1998), aff'd, 1999 WL 825425
(D.C.Cir. Sept. 27, 1999) (citation omitted). In addition, Local Civil
Rule 7.1(h) provides that "[a]n opposition to such a motion shall be
accompanied by a separate concise statement of genuine issues setting
forth all material facts as to which it is contended there exists a
genuine issue necessary to be litigated, which shall include references
to the part of the record relied on to support the statement."
Despite these principles of law and the requirements of the local
rules, "Plaintiffs Statement of Genuine Issues in Dispute" (hereinafter
"Plaintiffs Statement") is woefully deficient in many respects.
Plaintiffs Statement fails to controvert most of the facts set forth by
defendants, including material facts relating to the nonavailability of
positions for which plaintiff applied and was refused employment.*fn2
Under Rule 7.1(h), "the court may assume that facts identified by the
moving party in its statement of material facts are admitted, unless such
a fact is controverted in the statement of genuine issues filed in
opposition to the motion." Even where facts are disputed, a careful review
of the record citations reveals that there is a lack of support for
Plaintiffs Statement is also deficient insofar as reference is made to
alleged facts for which a deposition is cited without any specific page
reference.*fn4 The burden is on the parties, not on the court, to
"identify the pertinent parts of the record, to isolate the facts that
are deemed to be material, and to distinguish those facts which are
disputed from those that are undisputed." Twist v. Meese, 854 F.2d 1421,
1425 (D.C.Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 490 U.S. 1066. 109 S.Ct. 2066, 104
L.Ed.2d 631 (1989); see also Jackson v. Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow,
Garrett, & Dunner, 101 F.3d 145, 153 (D.C.Cir. 1996) (noting that the
burden is on counsel, not the court, to "winnow the wheat from the
chaff"). Furthermore, in support of his Statement, plaintiff often relies
on his own self-serving Declaration, much of which is peppered with
conclusory statements regarding his superior qualifications.*fn5
As explained more fully below, when the uncontroverted evidence is
considered, it becomes readily apparent that plaintiffs DCHRA claims are
time barred, he has released any possible claim as to four of the
positions at issue, since the refusal to hire occurred prior to the
effective date of the Release, and, as to the remaining positions, he
cannot establish a prima facie case because there was no ...