123 F.3d 1130 (8th Cir. 1997), 96-2302, Bush v. Marshalltown Medical and Surgical Center

Docket Nº:96-2302SI.
Citation:123 F.3d 1130
Party Name:Cheri L. BUSH, Appellant, v. MARSHALLTOWN MEDICAL AND SURGICAL CENTER, Appellee.
Case Date:September 09, 1997
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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Page 1130

123 F.3d 1130 (8th Cir. 1997)

Cheri L. BUSH, Appellant,

v.

MARSHALLTOWN MEDICAL AND SURGICAL CENTER, Appellee.

No. 96-2302SI.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

September 9, 1997

Submitted June 11, 1997.

Page 1131

Victoria Herring, Des Moines, IA, argued, for Appellant.

Frank Harty, Des Moines, IA, argued (Thomas W. Foley and Darci L. Frahm, Des Moines, IA, on the brief), for Appellee.

Before RICHARD S. ARNOLD, Chief Judge, BOWMAN and MORRIS SHEPPARD ARNOLD, Circuit Judges.

RICHARD S. ARNOLD, Chief Judge.

Cheri Bush brought this case against her employer, Marshalltown Medical and Surgical Center, for sexual harassment and retaliation. Her claims were based both on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (1988), and the parallel Iowa statute, Iowa Code § 216.6 (1995).

The Title VII claims of sexual harassment and retaliation were tried to a jury. The jury returned a verdict for the defendant, finding specially that the defendant did not subject Bush to actionable sexual harassment, and that it did not retaliate against her on account of her opposition to sexual harassment. Bush's motions for new trial and judgment notwithstanding the verdict were denied. Because Iowa law provides that claims under the state civil-rights statute are to be tried to the court, rather than a jury, the District Court 1 treated the jury's verdict

Page 1132

as advisory only with respect to the supplemental state-law claims. As to these claims, the Court made its own specific findings of fact and conclusions of law, reaching essentially the same conclusions as the jury. The Court found, among other things, that witnesses for the defense were more credible than the plaintiff.

On appeal, Bush does not argue that the denial of her motion notwithstanding the verdict was error. That is, she does not argue that there was insufficient evidence, as a matter of law, to justify the conclusions that the jury reached on her Title VII claim. She does contend, however, that it was an abuse of discretion for the District Court to deny her motion for a new trial. She also contends that the findings of the District Court on the state-law claim are clearly erroneous. 2

We hold that the findings of fact made by the District Court are not clearly erroneous, and that it did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion for a new trial on the Title VII claim. We therefore affirm the judgment in all respects.

I.

Bush has been employed as a part-time paramedic by the defendant in its ambulance department since 1989. She has also worked as a dispatcher. In her part-time position, Bush is scheduled to work one day a week. Bush claims that when she started working she found sexually suggestive cartoons posted in the office. She did not, however, complain about these cartoons to her supervisor, Marsha Holm. Instead, most of Bush's complaints have involved a co-employee, Randall Bonnett, who is also a part-time paramedic, although on a different shift.

The defendant claims that Bush lodged her first complaints regarding inappropriate behavior during a 1991 ambulance squad meeting. 3 Holm called this meeting after discovering a list of "dumb blonde jokes" in the department in order to discuss the inappropriateness of those jokes and to inform the employees of their right to complain about behavior...

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