267 F.Supp.2d 987 (D.Minn. 2003), Civ. 02-01, Dare v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Docket Nº:CIV. 02-01 (PAM/RLE).
Citation:267 F.Supp.2d 987
Party Name:Lois DARE, Plaintiff v. WAL-MART STORES, INC., Defendant.
Case Date:June 13, 2003
Court:United States District Courts, 8th Circuit, District of Minnesota

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267 F.Supp.2d 987 (D.Minn. 2003)

Lois DARE, Plaintiff



No. CIV. 02-01 (PAM/RLE).

United States District Court, D. Minnesota.

June 13, 2003

Page 988

Patrick M. O'Donnell, Smith, Paulson, O'Donnell & Associates, Monticello, MN, for Plaintiff.

Jason Michael Hedican, Briggs & Morgan, Minneapolis, MN, for Defendant.


MAGNUSON, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on a portion of the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. ("Wal-Mart") on Plaintiff Lois Dare's racial discrimination claims. Previously, the Court stayed in part the Motion pending a ruling by the Supreme Court in a case on appeal from the Ninth Circuit, Costa v. Desert Palace, Inc., 299 F.3d 838 (9th Cir. 2002), cert. granted, 537 U.S. 1099, 123 S.Ct. 816, 154 L.Ed.2d 766 (2003). On June 9, 2003, the Supreme Court unanimously decided the issue on appeal. Desert Palace, Inc. v. Costa, --- U.S. ----, 123 S.Ct. 2148, 156 L.Ed.2d 84 (2003). For the following reasons, the Court denies the remaining aspects of the Motion in part and grants them in part.

The facts of this case were sufficiently laid out in this Court's prior Order, Dare v. Mal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 02-0001, 2003 WL 21147657 (D.Minn. May 8, 2003), and the Court need not repeat them here. In its prior Order the Court dismissed Dare's claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq., against Wal-Mart for conduct occurring at Wal-Mart's Brooklyn Park store. In addition, the Court granted in part Wal-Mart's Motion for Summary Judgment on Dare's Minnesota Human Rights Act ("MHRA"), Minn.Stat. § 363.03, claim against Defendant for conduct occurring at Wal-Mart's Brooklyn Park store. However, the Court stayed consideration of Wal-Mart's Motion for Summary Judgment on Dare's Title VII and MHRA claims for conduct occurring at Wal-Mart's Elk River store.


A. Standard of Review

Wal-Mart moves for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56(c), which provides that such a motion shall be granted only if "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and ... the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). When considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court must view the evidence and the inferences that may be reasonably drawn from the

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evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Enter. Bank v. Magna Bank, 92 F.3d 743, 747 (8th Cir. 1996). The burden of demonstrating that there are no genuine issues of material fact rests on the moving party. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). If the moving party has carried its burden, the non-moving party must demonstrate the existence of specific facts in the record that create a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Krenik v. County of LeSueur, 47 F.3d 953, 957 (8th Cir. 1995).

B. The Consequences of Desert Palace

1. The Pre-Desert Palace Landscape

Prior to the decision in Desert Palace, plaintiffs in discrimination cases could proceed under one of two different paradigms: the ubiquitous McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting scheme, see McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973); or the mixed-motive analysis articulated in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228, 269-70, 109 S.Ct. 1775, 104 L.Ed.2d 268 (1989), and revised by the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2(m), 2000e-5(2)(B). 1

Before the Supreme Court decision in Desert Palace, courts nationwide followed Justice O'Connor's distinction in her concurring opinion in Price Waterhouse, 490 U.S. at 269-70, 109 S.Ct. 1775. In this Circuit, a courts' application of one or the other paradigm depended entirely on whether the plaintiff had presented direct or indirect evidence of a discriminatory motive:

The framework for evaluating a Title VII discrimination claim depends on the type of evidence presented in support of the claim. Where the plaintiff relies primarily on circumstantial evidence, courts apply a tripartite analysis as set forth in [McDonnell Douglas]....

In some situations, however, a plaintiff can produce direct evidence that an illegal criterion was a motivating factor in the disputed employment decision.... In those cases, the plaintiff is relieved of the ultimate burden of persuasion and the so-called "mixed motive" analysis is applied.

Mohr v. Dustrol, Inc. 306 F.3d 636, 639-40 (8th Cir. 2002) (citing Price Waterhouse, (generally) and Gagnon v. Sprint Corp., 284 F.3d 839, 847-49 (8th Cir. 2002)). Only rarely did plaintiffs present direct evidence of a discriminatory motive. Thus, application of the McDonnell Douglas paradigm was much more common than the alternative burden-shifting scheme set forth in the Civil Rights Act of 1991.

In this case, as stated in the prior Order, the Court finds no direct evidence of discriminatory motive in the record.

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Dare, 2003 WL 21147657, at *9. As a result, the Court would have followed the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting paradigm. However, because the Supreme Court had agreed to hear the appeal of Desert Palace, the Court stayed the part of Defendant's Motion that was potentially affected by the pending ruling. Now that the Supreme Court has issued its opinion, this Court may proceed.

2. The Holding in Desert Palace

In Desert Palace, the Supreme Court considered the appeal of a Ninth Circuit decision holding that the Civil Rights Act of 1991 overruled the direct/indirect evidence distinction made in Justice O'Connor's concurring opinion in Price Waterhouse. The Circuit Court of Appeals carefully explained how the Civil Rights Act of 1991 differed from the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting scheme and concluded that Congress intended to replace the allocation of burdens under McDonnell Douglas with an alternative analysis. Costa, 299 F.3d at 847-51. The Civil...

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