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.

Roty v. Battelle Memorial Institute

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

December 19, 2017

Ann Roty, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
Battelle Memorial Institute, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

         APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas No. 14CV-2502

         On brief:

          Law Offices of Russell A. Kelm, Russell A. Kelm, and Colleen Koehler, for appellants.

         Argued:

          Russell A. Kelm.

         On brief:

          Ice Miller, LLP, James E. Davidson, Catherine L. Strauss, for appellees.

         Argued:

          James E. Davidson.

          DECISION

          BRUNNER, J.

         {¶ 1} Plaintiffs-appellants, Ann Roty and Mary Neff (collectively, "Roty and Neff), appeal from a judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas entered on April 5, 2016 granting a motion for summary judgment filed by defendants-appellees, Battelle Memorial Institute, Jeffrey Perko, Jane Cozzarelli, Jeffrey Caspers, Gwendolyn Von Holten, Staci Palmer, and David Evans (collectively, "Battelle"). Because we find that the trial court erred in concluding that company-wide statistics showing the ages of employees retained and terminated during a 2013 reduction in force were so irrelevant as to not even be discoverable, we sustain Roty and Neff s first assignment of error. Because the resolution of that assignment of error will likely affect the summary judgment record, we find that the remaining assignments of error (all of which pertain to summary judgment) are rendered moot. We reverse and remand.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         {¶ 2} On March 7, 2014, Roty and Neff filed suit against Battelle and certain supervisor and management employees of Battelle alleging age discrimination stemming from both Roty's and Neff s terminations during a 2013 reduction in force at Battelle. (Mar. 7, 2014 Compl.) One of the claims made in the complaint was that the reduction in force was of disparate impact for workers over age 40, since they were allegedly disproportionately represented in the firings. Id. at ¶ 14. During the course of discovery, Roty and Neff moved the trial court for an order compelling Batelle "to produce discovery requested by plaintiffs relating to the statistics of the ages and positions of those included and not included in a reduction in force conducted at Battelle in August and September of 2013." (June 12, 2014 Mot. to Compel at 1.) The trial court referred all discovery disputes to a magistrate.

         {¶ 3} In December 2014, the trial court held an evidentiary hearing in another pending case also involving discrimination claims against Battelle in connection with its same 2013 reduction in force. See Wasserstrom v. Battelle Mem. Inst, Franklin C.P. No. 13CV-13871 (Aug. 14, 2015). The trial court permitted the parties in both cases to jointly present evidence in support of their respective positions on the statistical data discovery question at issue on this appeal.

         {¶ 4} In Roty's and Neff s case, in a decision issued on February 23, 2015, the magistrate quoted from a decision issued by the judge in the Wasserstrom case:

This matter came before the Court on December 4, 2014, for an evidentiary hearing regarding the scope of discovery. The Court has considered all of the evidence and arguments presented by counsel.
The evidence presented indicates that each termination decision was made at the business unit level. Accordingly, at most, Plaintiff is entitled to the dates of birth and position titles for each Human Resources employee included in the August and September 2013 RIF in which Defendant Thomas D. Snowberger was the principal decision maker. Defendants submit that this information has already been produced. Accordingly, Plaintiffs request for any further data is hereby DENIED.

(Feb. 23, 2015 Mag. Decision at 4, quoting Wasserstrom v. Battelle Mem. Inst, Franklin C.P. No. 13CV-13871 (Jan. 28, 2015 Entry).) Relying upon the Wasserstrom decision and the evidence adduced during the December 4, 2014 joint hearing, the magistrate concluded that the termination decisions in this case were also made at the business unit level. (Feb. 23, 2015 Mag. Decision at 4-5.) On that basis, the magistrate found that Roty and Neff were only entitled to discovery regarding the birthdates and position titles for each employee included in the August and September 2013 reduction in force in their single business unit. Id. at 5. The magistrate therefore denied Roty and Neff s request to compel Battelle to provide statistics reaching across all of Battelle's business units. Id. Because the order only authorized discovery for those "included" in the reduction in force, it could have been understood two ways. First, it could have authorized discovery for each person who fell within the ambit of the reduction in force plan, regardless of whether the person actually lost his or her job. Second, and more restrictively, it could also have applied only to those who were "included" in the reduction in force in the sense that they were terminated as part of the reduction in force. Id.

         {¶ 5} On March 9, 2015, Roty and Neff filed timely objections to the magistrate's decision. (Mar. 9, 2015 Objs.) Roty and Neff argued that the case law supports the need for statistical evidence of the nature they sought, particularly for disparate impact claims. Id. at 4-10. Roty and Neff also pointed out that the magistrate's "limitation of the production to just one business unit [did] not take into account the fact that the [reduction in force] decisions were reviewed and approved by [human resources]." Id. at 1. In support of their observation that reductions in force were reviewed by human resources, the objections drew attention to the fact that Battelle admitted as much in its responses to Neff s interrogatories. Id. at 1-2, citing Battelle's response to Neff s ninth ...


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.