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Rosecrans v. Village of Wellington

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

March 9, 2017

DANIEL C. ROSECRANS, Plaintiff,
v.
VILLAGE OF WELLINGTON, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court upon the Motion for Summary Judgment of Defendant Wellington (ECF # 26). For the following reasons, the Court grants Wellington's Motion for Summary Judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, Daniel C. Rosecrans, (“Rosecrans”) has been a part time police officer since 1991. He alleges that he was discriminated against on the basis of age when Defendant, Village of Wellington, (“Wellington”) chose not to appoint him to a position of a full-time police officer in June 2014. Rosecrans alleges he was passed over for a promotion to the fulltime police officer position in favor of Josh Poling (“Poling”), a younger officer he supervised while working at the Lorain County MetroParks (“MetroParks”). At the time he was passed over, Rosecrans was forty-seven years old, while Poling was thirty-one years old. The candidates were reviewed by the Village of Wellington Police Committee, which then recommended a candidate to council. According to Wellington, then Councilman Schneider (“Schneider”) had concerns regarding Rosecrans' suitability for the position because of Rosecrans' disciplinary history. Indeed, during his employment at the MetroParks, Rosecrans was subjected to a Last Chance Agreement as a result of erasing data on the hard drive from his work computer. According to Wellington, Rosecrans then resigned, due to his demotion; according to Rosecrans, because he was required to travel a further distance to work and changes in other responsibilities. Despite having been employed by the MetroParks for over twenty years, Rosecrans' resume failed to list the MetroParks as an employer. Thus, according to Wellington, there were concerns that Rosecrans failed to even identify the MetroParks on his application materials in light of the general knowledge of the situation surrounding Rosecrans' resignation. Rosecrans alleges that he wished to list only his most current employment.

         After reviewing the applications, it was determined that Poling would be recommended for the position to the Village Council, which approved the recommendation. Rosecrans states that Interim Chief of Police Barrett (“Chief Barrett”) advised him that he did not get the position due to a situation involving a School Resource Officer position, the events occurring at the MetroParks and “other problems” that were not discussed. With respect to the School Resource Officer position, Rosecrans stated that the Wellington Board of Education created a position and he was approached by the school superintendent about the position. Rosecrans believes he was subsequently retaliated against because his appointment would have resulted in a loss of earnings by other officers. Rosecrans also asserts that a retired officer he worked with for several years affirmed that Rosecrans was more qualified and that he had a conversation with Defendant Barbara O'Keefe, former Mayor of Wellington at the time of the incidents in question, where she raised concerns about the ability of Rosecrans to pass a physical examination required for a full-time patrol officer position. However, Rosecrans has not brought a claim for disability discrimination.

         Rosecrans generally alleges that he was not chosen for the full-time Wellington police officer position due to his age but admits that no one at the Village told him that the decision was based on age. To the contrary, Chief Barrett told Rosecrans he was a valuable asset to the police department and felt that other opportunities may arise for him. Rosecrans remained employed at the Village in his part-time capacity until his resignation from that position in the summer of 2015.

         On September 28, 2014, Rosecrans filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), alleging he was denied promotion from part-time to full-time police officer due to his age. Rosecrans's EEOC Charge alleged this action violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and constituted retaliation under these statutes. Rosecrans obtained a right to sue letter from the EEOC and filed his Complaint in this Court, alleging Age Discrimination in violation of the ADEA (Count I) and Ohio Revised Code (“O.R.C.”) Sections 4112.02, 4112.14 (Counts II & III) and Hostile Work Environment under § 4112 and § 4112.99 (Count IV) and Retaliation under O.R.C. §§ 4112.02 and 4112.99 (Count V). Rosecrans filed the within suit against the Village and Mayor O'Keefe. Following briefing on a Motion to Dismiss, the Court dismissed all claims against O'Keefe as well as all state law claims. The sole remaining claim is a claim against Wellington under the ADEA (Count I) based on the decision not to appoint Rosecrans to the full-time police officer position in June of 2014.

         II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A) Standard of Review

         Summary Judgment should be granted only if “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” See Fed. R.Civ. P. 56(a). The burden is on the moving party to conclusively show no genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Lansing Dairy. Inc. V. Espy, 39 F.3d 1339, 1347 (6th Cir. 1994). The moving party must either point to “particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations, admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials” or show “that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. V. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Once the movant presents evidence to meet its burden, the nonmoving party may not rest on its pleadings, but most come forward with some significant probative evidence to support its claim. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Lansing dairy, 39 F.3d at 1347.

         The “mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Anderson v Liberty Lobby, Inc. 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original); accord Leadbetter v Gilley, 385 F.3d 683, 689-90 (6th Cir. 2003). A fact is only material if its resolution “might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

         The Court does not have the responsibility to search the record sua sponte for genuine issues of material fact. Betkerur v. Aultman Hospital Ass'n., 78 F.3d 1079, 1087 (6th Cir. 1996); Guarino v. Brookfield Township Trustees, 980 F.2d 399, 404-06 (6th Cir. 1992). The burden falls upon the nonmoving party to “designate specific facts or evidence in dispute, ” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50; and if the nonmoving party fails to make the necessary showing on an element upon which it has the burden of proof, the moving party is entitled to summary judgment. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. Whether summary judgment is appropriate depends upon “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a mater of law.” Amway Distributors Benefits Ass'n v. Northfield Ins. Co., 323 F.3d 386, 390 (6th Cir. 2003) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52).

         B) Direct evidence of age discrimination

         According to Wellington, Rosecrans has no direct evidence of age discrimination. Direct evidence is “evidence [that], if believed, requires the conclusion that age was the “but for” cause of the employment decision...the inquiry includes both a predisposition to discrimination and that the employer acted on that predisposition.” Scheick v. Tecumseh Public Schools,766 F.3d 523, 530 (6th Cir. 2014). Direct evidence “proves the existence of a fact without requiring any inference.” Id. Wellington argues that Rosecrans admits that no one at the Village stated that his age was related to the decision not to appoint him to the fulltime position. Rosecrans also denies having spoken with any members of the Police Committee or Village Council with respect to the hiring decision and does not know what factors were considered in making the appointment decision. Wellington notes that Rosecrans alleged that Chief Barrett identified three reasons why Rosecrans ...


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