229 F.3d 1012 (11th Cir. 2000), 97-8838, Chapman v AI Transport

Docket Nº:97-8838, 97-9086 and 97-9269.
Citation:229 F.3d 1012
Party Name:John D. CHAPMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. AI TRANSPORT, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:October 02, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

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229 F.3d 1012 (11th Cir. 2000)

John D. CHAPMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant,


AI TRANSPORT, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

Nos. 97-8838, 97-9086 and 97-9269.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

October 2, 2000

Oct. 12, 2000.

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Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.(No. 94-01666-1-WBH), Willis B. Hunt, Jr., Judge.


CARNES, Circuit Judge:

John Chapman filed a lawsuit in federal district court against AI Transport, AIG Aviation, American International Group Claims Services ("AIGCS"), and American International Group ("AIG") (collectively, "the defendants"). His complaint included claims of age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-34, and disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-17. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants on Chapman's ADEA claims, but it denied summary judgment on the ADA claims. Chapman's ADA claims were tried before a jury, which returned a verdict in favor of the defendants.

A panel of this Court affirmed the judgment insofar as it embodied the jury's verdict on the ADA claims, but the panel reversed the grant of summary judgment on the ADEA claims and also vacated the district court's award of costs to the defendants. See Chapman v. AI Transport, 180 F.3d 1244 (11th Cir.1999). We granted rehearing en banc primarily to decide some important issues that arise regularly in job discrimination cases. Those issues have to do with an employer's ability to select its own criteria for making employment decisions and with the permissibility of using subjective criteria. We had also planned to address an issue about whether evidence impeaching the credibility of one corporate official could be used to undermine the credibility of a different decisionmaker. As we will explain in due course, however, it turns out that general corporate credibility issue is not presented by the record. While we have the case, we will also use it to decide whether a district

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court may consider a losing party's financial status in awarding costs to the prevailing party.


A. Chapman's Pre-October 1988 Employment History

From May 1964 until September 1969, John Chapman worked as a claims representative for the Hartford Insurance Company. He voluntarily left Hartford Insurance in September 1969 and began working as a claims supervisor for Home Insurance Company in Atlanta, Georgia. He left Home Insurance in June 1985. In July 1985, Chapman began working for Claimsman, Inc., another insurance company, as a senior liability claims examiner. While at Claimsman, Chapman handled the J. Gordon Gaines ("Gaines") account.

In August 1986, Chapman voluntarily left the Claimsman company in order to accept an offer to become manager of the general liability unit of Gaines, which had decided to start its own claims department. In April 1988, Gaines was purchased by Liberty National Fire Insurance Company. Liberty National moved its claims division to Birmingham, Alabama, and offered Chapman, who was apparently living in Atlanta, the opportunity to continue working in the claims division. Chapman decided instead to move to Long Beach, California and work for B.R. Martin Company. At B.R. Martin, Chapman supervised the files of Liberty National Fire Insurance Company. In September 1988, after only a few months with B.R. Martin, Chapman left that company and moved back to Atlanta, Georgia.

B. Chapman's Tenure at AI Transport and His Application to AIGCS

In October 1988, Chapman began working for AI Transport in Atlanta as a senior claims representative. He interviewed with and was hired by Robert Spann, who was then the Manager of Claims at AI Transport. In 1989, Chapman was promoted to supervisor. His performance reviews usually ranged from the middle-of-the-scale "meets expectations" to the second-highest category, "above expectations."1

In late 1989, AI Transport became a division of AIG Aviation, which is itself a subsidiary of AIG. AIG owns in whole or in part approximately 120 companies worldwide, including AIGCS. AIG, AIG Aviation, AI Transport and AIGCS are all insurance-related companies.

In June 1992, AI Transport instituted a reduction-in-force. Three of Chapman's four subordinates were terminated. AI Transport removed Chapman's supervisory duties and assigned him to handle the claims representative duties formerly performed by his dismissed subordinates. Chapman was also transferred to the position of Self-Insured Retention ("SIR") Manager.

During September and October 1992, AIGCS restructured its organization and created new positions in the process.2 On September 17, 1992, Chapman wrote James Wogsland, a vice president at AIGCS, about open positions. Wogsland and Ward Turnquist, another AIGCS vice president, interviewed Chapman on October 13, 1992 for the position of Casualty Claims Manager. Turnquist testified in deposition that his assignment from Wogsland was "to screen these people for that position." Turnquist stated that he interviewed

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Chapman, was not impressed and thought AIGCS should look further, but recommended that Wogsland talk to Chapman himself. Chapman testified, however, that Wogsland interviewed him before Turnquist did. At the time of the interviews, Chapman was 61 years old.

Later that month, Chapman was informed that AIGCS would not be hiring him. Among the employees eventually hired by AIGCS for some position were four other AI Transport employees. Graham Wiggins was hired as the Casualty Claims Manager; Warren Jones was hired as the Complex Claims Director; Duane Sevillian was hired as the Fast Track Manager; and Ernest John Smith was hired as a Casualty Claims Representative. Two of the four were over forty years old, but all four were younger than Chapman.3

On December 18, 1992, Chapman was terminated by AI Transport because of his refusal to travel, which he claimed to be the result of a heart condition. The facts relating to that condition and Chapman's termination by AI Transport are accurately summarized in the panel opinion. See Chapman, 180 F.3d at 1247-48. We will not set out in this opinion all of those facts, because they are not relevant to the ADEA claims which arose from AIGCS's failure to hire Chapman while he was still working at AI Transport.


A. Complaint

In June 1994, after having exhausted his EEOC administrative remedies, Chapman filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the defendants. His complaint included claims of age discrimination in violation of the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621- 34, and disability discrimination in violation of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101- 17.4 His complaint set out his allegations of age discrimination as follows:

25. During September or October of 1992, a claims supervisor position came open in the Atlanta Service Center of [AIGCS]. Mr. Chapman was qualified to perform this position, which would have required no out-of-town travel on business.

26. Mr. Chapman went through the proper procedures to apply for the open position at [AIGCS]. The [AIGCS] employee who interviewed Mr. Chapman for the position, James Wogsland (Vice President of [AIGCS] in Atlanta), informed Mr. Chapman that he would rely upon Mr. Spann's assessment of Mr. Chapman's work in making his decision.

27. The position at [AIGCS] for which Mr. Chapman applied was awarded to Mr. Graham Wiggins, black. Mr. Wiggins was less qualified than Mr. Chapman for the position, had no physical disability and was much younger than Mr. Chapman.

28. AI Transport also transferred Mr. Warren Jones and Mr. Duane Sevillian to [AIGCS] to perform positions that Mr. Chapman was more qualified to perform. Mr. Jones and Mr. Sevillian are black, are not physically disabled, and are much younger than Mr. Chapman.

B. Motions for Summary Judgment

On April 29, 1996, Chapman moved for partial summary judgment on his disability

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discrimination claims. Included in the Statement of Undisputed Material Facts submitted by Chapman with his motion for partial summary judgment were the following statements:

25. Mr. Chapman applied for any open positions, including Complex Claims Director, Fast Track Manager, Casualty Claims Manager, and Casualty Claims Representative. According to the AIGCS managers responsible for supervising and filling these positions, Mr. Chapman was qualified for all of them. None of these positions required business travel.

26. Nevertheless, instead of transferring Mr. Chapman to one of these open positions, which would have fully accommodated his disability, Defendants filled the positions with other non-disabled individuals from AI Transport. Graham Wiggins was placed in the Casualty Claims Manager position; Warren Jones was placed in the Complex Claims Director position; Duane Sevillian (a claims representative at AI Transport) was placed in the Fast Track Manager position and Ernest John Smith (a claims representative at AI Transport) was placed in the Casualty Claims Representative position.... Chapman was more qualified than these other candidates.

On April 30, 1996, AI Transport, AIG Aviation and AIG moved for summary judgment on all claims. AIGCS and AIG filed a separate motion for summary judgment on all claims. In the Statement of Material Facts attached to its summary judgment motion, AIGCS stated that Wogsland and Turnquist, the two AIGCS vice presidents who interviewed Chapman, chose Wiggins over Chapman because of Chapman's poor interview and their concern "about [his]...

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