826 A.2d 362 (D.C. 2003), 01-CV-124, Joyner v. Sibley Memorial Hosp.

Docket Nº:01-CV-124.
Citation:826 A.2d 362
Party Name:Jeanette JOYNER, Appellant, v. SIBLEY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, et al., Appellees.
Case Date:June 12, 2003
Court:Court of Appeals of Columbia District

Page 362

826 A.2d 362 (D.C. 2003)

Jeanette JOYNER, Appellant,

v.

SIBLEY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, et al., Appellees.

No. 01-CV-124.

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

June 12, 2003.

Argued March 26, 2002.

Page 363

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 364

Donald M. Temple, Washington, DC, with whom Jeanett P. Henry was on the brief, for appellant.

John G. Kruchko, with whom Kara M. Driscoll was on the brief, McLean, VA, for appellees.

Before RUIZ and GLICKMAN, Associate Judges, and KING, Senior Judge.

KING, Senior Judge:

Jeanette Joyner contends that the trial court erred in entering summary judgment on some counts in her complaint and dismissing, without prejudice, the remaining counts in favor of appellees Sibley Memorial Hospital ("Sibley") and Jill Stanton.[1] We affirm in part and reverse in part.

Page 365

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

When the incidents underlying the claims in this case arose, Joyner was a part-time clerk typist in the Medical Records Department ("MR") and a part-time clerk typist in the Medical Staff Privileges Department ("MSP") at Sibley. This appeal arises out of a series of events involving Joyner and Stanton, who was an employee of the hospital and Joyner's then supervisor in MR.

A. Facts

Joyner is an African-American female who was sixty-one years of age at the time of the events giving rise to this action. She began her employment with Sibley in 1977 as a receptionist in MR. In 1981, Joyner transferred to a position of clerk typist in MSP. In 1992, Sibley underwent some administrative reorganization, and Joyner's post in MSP was reduced to part-time. However, she was also reassigned to part-time duties in her former department as clerk typist in MR, thus retaining a full-time status overall.

In November of 1996, there was a change in the management of MR, and Stanton assumed the position of Director. Shortly thereafter several incidents occurred, which Joyner asserts as the basis of her claims here. On December 9 of that year, Stanton issued a verbal reprimand to Joyner based upon a complaint Stanton had received regarding Joyner's allegedly inappropriate response to a request for a patient's file from a doctor's office. On December 30, Joyner received her 1996 performance evaluation, which reflected a lower score than she had received in previous years from other supervisors. This evaluation also deferred final disposition of Joyner's evaluation for ninety days, during which she was to complete a course on WordPerfect.

On January 9, 1997, Joyner was given an assignment, which she called "unusual," to obtain a large number of files from an adjacent building and then return the files once they had been properly coded.[2] As a result of a report that Joyner had left those files unattended, Stanton verbally admonished her.[3] On January 27, Joyner again received a verbal reprimand, her second, because she repeatedly punched in on the time clock more than a few minutes prior to her scheduled start time in violation of the procedures set forth in a recently circulated memorandum applicable to all employees.

On January 31, 1997, Joyner submitted a written response in her defense to the verbal reprimand dated December 9, 1996 relating to the complaint regarding an allegedly inappropriate response to a doctor's office's request for a patient's files. She maintained that the incident that precipitated the reprimand was simply a misunderstanding. She indicated that the person to whom she released the files, the husband of the patient whose files were the subject of the request, was

Page 366

satisfied with Joyner's performance. To support that claim, she submitted a commendation letter from the husband. Joyner's response, however, revealed her possible violation of hospital policy in two ways: release of confidential medical records without signed authorization from the patient, and solicitation of a letter of commendation from patients or their families. As a result, Stanton drafted a written reprimand on February 3, 1997 setting forth the two violations, and scheduled a meeting with Joyner for February 7, 1997.

The meeting was held in Stanton's office. At that meeting, Stanton characterized Joyner's explanation of events in her January 31 response as a "scenario," which angered Joyner, who then attempted to leave. Stanton then allegedly slammed the door on Joyner's hand in an attempt to prevent Joyner from leaving. Joyner then left the room, earning her a five-day paid leave in lieu of suspension for her "insubordination." Although she refused to return to MR upon the expiration of her leave, she remained employed as a clerk typist in MSP. She contends that all of these incidents amounted to discrimination based on her age and race.

B. Procedural Background

In her complaint, Joyner set forth seven causes of action against both appellees jointly and severally: (1) a count for assault and battery; (2) a count for intentional infliction of emotional distress; (3) a count for negligent hiring and supervision; (4) another count for negligent supervision; (5) a count of false imprisonment; (6) a count for constructive discharge; and (7) a count for age and race discrimination in violation of the District of Columbia Human Rights Act ("DCHRA").

The first count, assault and battery, was based upon Joyner's claim that during the February 7, 1997 meeting, Stanton crushed Joyner's hand in the door. Joyner also contended that, through this behavior, appellees "intentionally caused severe emotional distress to Joyner by way of extreme, reckless, and outrageous conduct" giving rise to the second count, intentional infliction of emotional distress. The third and fourth counts were based on Joyner's contention that Stanton was "manifestly unfit to serve as Director of Medical Records," and that Sibley's failure to recognize her unfitness and to take corrective action breached Sibley's duty of care to its employees "relative to their personal safety, security and well-being in application of [Sibley's] policies and practices."

The fifth count, false imprisonment, was also based on Stanton's conduct at the February 7 meeting, when Stanton directed Joyner to remain in the room and allegedly slammed the door on Joyner's hand, both of which "unreasonably den [ied] [Joyner] the right to leave the office." The sixth count, constructive discharge, was based on the fact that Sibley gave Joyner an "ultimatum" to return to her allegedly hostile work environment in MR or face termination, which Joyner claims Sibley knew would create undue hardship for Joyner. According to Joyner, this ultimatum "subjected [her] to a constructive discharge [that] caused her to loose [sic] benefits, income, prestige and honor." Finally, the seventh count, violation of the DCHRA, is based upon Joyner's contention that appellees' disciplinary actions directed toward Joyner were motivated by discrimination against senior members of minority groups.

On April 20, 1998, appellees filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, and Joyner filed an opposition on May 11, 1998. On November 28, 1998, with the consent of the parties, the trial court granted the motion

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in part by dismissing the claim against Stanton for negligent supervision (Count IV),[4] as well as the claim against both appellees for negligent hiring and supervision (Count III).

Subsequently, appellees filed their answer to Joyner's complaint, and discovery was undertaken. Appellees then moved for summary judgment, asserting that there were no genuine issues of material fact and that they were entitled to judgment as a matter of law, which Joyner opposed. On December 15, 1999, the trial court entered an order granting in part and denying in part the motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Sibley on the negligent supervision count (Count IV),[5] and in favor of both appellees on the discrimination (Count VII), constructive discharge (Count VI), and intentional infliction of emotional distress counts (Count II). The trial court also dismissed the claims against both parties for assault and battery (Count I) and false imprisonment (Count V) on the ground that the District of Columbia Workers' Compensation Act ("WCA") provided Joyner's exclusive remedies for those claims and that she therefore was required to pursue her claims relating to those counts with the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services ("DOES").[6] This appeal followed.

II. DISCUSSION

Joyner maintains that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of appellees on the discrimination claim because she contends that she made a prima facie case on that claim and that there are genuine issues of material fact that precluded the entry of summary judgment. She also contends that if this court reverses the trial court's grant of summary judgment on the discrimination claim because of the existence of genuine issues of material fact, "it follows therefrom that the same issues will demonstrate the existence of genuine issues of material fact for

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[the] constructive discharge claim." Joyner also appeals from the dismissal of the assault and battery claim, arguing that the Superior Court, and not the Department of Employment Services, has primary jurisdiction over that claim. In discussing Joyner's contentions, we first review the trial court's rulings on the counts for which summary judgment was granted, which we affirm. We will then review the order dismissing, without prejudice, the assault and battery and false imprisonment claims, which we reverse.[7]

A. Summary Judgment

Joyner argues that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on the discrimination and constructive discharge claims, and, by implication, the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim.

1. Standard of Review

We review the grant of a motion for summary judgment de novo. In...

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46 practice notes
  • 998 A.2d 286 (D.C. 2010), 09-CV-390, Padou v. District of Columbia
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • 17 juin 2010
    ...[or denials] by the non-moving party are legally insufficient to avoid the entry of summary judgment." Joyner v. Sibley Mem'l Hosp., 826 A.2d 362, 368 In cases where a party is a pro se litigant, " the general principle [is] that ‘ such a litigant can expect no special treatment f......
  • 830 A.2d 865 (D.C. 2003), 01-AA-877, Georgetown University v. District of Columbia Dept. of Employment Services
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • 21 août 2003
    ...agency having primary jurisdiction over the issue of compensability under the Act. See Joyner v. Sibley Mem'l Hosp., No. 01-CV-124, 826 A.2d 362 (D.C.2003) (stay, rather than dismissal, of tort action is appropriate to enable DOES to consider coverage of Workers' Compensation A claim for wo......
  • 990 A.2d 455 (D.C. 2010), 07-CV-1065, Cesarano v. Reed Smith LLP
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • 4 mars 2010
    ...favor of Reed Smith is de novo. McFarland v. George Washington Univ., 935 A.2d 337, 345 (D.C.2007) (citing Joyner v. Sibley Mem'l Hosp., 826 A.2d 362, 368 (D.C.2003)). " ‘ Summary judgment is appropriate only if there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute and if the moving ......
  • 981 A.2d 610 (D.C. 2009), 06-CV-1445, Allen v. Schultheiss
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • 1 octobre 2009
    ...and conclusions.[3] Page 614 II. We review the trial court's grant of summary judgment de novo. See Joyner v. Sibley Mem'l Hosp., 826 A.2d 362, 368 (D.C.2003). In doing so, " we conduct an independent review of the record, and our standard of review is the same as the trial court's sta......
  • Free signup to view additional results
46 cases
  • 998 A.2d 286 (D.C. 2010), 09-CV-390, Padou v. District of Columbia
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • 17 juin 2010
    ...[or denials] by the non-moving party are legally insufficient to avoid the entry of summary judgment." Joyner v. Sibley Mem'l Hosp., 826 A.2d 362, 368 In cases where a party is a pro se litigant, " the general principle [is] that ‘ such a litigant can expect no special treatment f......
  • 830 A.2d 865 (D.C. 2003), 01-AA-877, Georgetown University v. District of Columbia Dept. of Employment Services
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • 21 août 2003
    ...agency having primary jurisdiction over the issue of compensability under the Act. See Joyner v. Sibley Mem'l Hosp., No. 01-CV-124, 826 A.2d 362 (D.C.2003) (stay, rather than dismissal, of tort action is appropriate to enable DOES to consider coverage of Workers' Compensation A claim for wo......
  • 990 A.2d 455 (D.C. 2010), 07-CV-1065, Cesarano v. Reed Smith LLP
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • 4 mars 2010
    ...favor of Reed Smith is de novo. McFarland v. George Washington Univ., 935 A.2d 337, 345 (D.C.2007) (citing Joyner v. Sibley Mem'l Hosp., 826 A.2d 362, 368 (D.C.2003)). " ‘ Summary judgment is appropriate only if there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute and if the moving ......
  • 981 A.2d 610 (D.C. 2009), 06-CV-1445, Allen v. Schultheiss
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • 1 octobre 2009
    ...and conclusions.[3] Page 614 II. We review the trial court's grant of summary judgment de novo. See Joyner v. Sibley Mem'l Hosp., 826 A.2d 362, 368 (D.C.2003). In doing so, " we conduct an independent review of the record, and our standard of review is the same as the trial court's sta......
  • Free signup to view additional results