Bliss v. Rochester City School Dist., Nos. 00-CV-6516L, 00-CV-6310L, 01-CV-6176L.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
Writing for the CourtLarimer
Citation196 F.Supp.2d 314
PartiesMary Lou BLISS, Plaintiff, v. ROCHESTER CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., Defendants. Nancy L. Coons, Plaintiff, v. The Board Of Education of the Rochester City School District, et al., Defendants. Pamela Eaton, Plaintiff, v. The Board Of Education of the Rochester City School District, Et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberNos. 00-CV-6516L, 00-CV-6310L, 01-CV-6176L.
Decision Date28 March 2002

Page 314

196 F.Supp.2d 314
Mary Lou BLISS, Plaintiff,
v.
ROCHESTER CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., Defendants.
Nancy L. Coons, Plaintiff,
v.
The Board Of Education of the Rochester City School District, et al., Defendants.
Pamela Eaton, Plaintiff,
v.
The Board Of Education of the Rochester City School District, Et al., Defendants.
Nos. 00-CV-6516L, 00-CV-6310L, 01-CV-6176L.
United States District Court, W.D. New York.
March 28, 2002.

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Emmelyn Logan-Baldwin, Rochester, NY, for Plaintiff.

Maureen T. Alston, Harter, Secrest and Emery LLP, Rochester, NY, Matthew D. Brown, Harter, Secrest and Emery LLP, Rochester, NY, Gerald John DeWolf, Albany, NY, for Defendants.

DECISION AND ORDER

LARIMER, Chief Judge.


I. INTRODUCTION

These cases represent yet another chapter in a line of cases filed by a single attorney on behalf of a number of individuals against the Rochester City School District ("RCSD"), the Rochester Teachers' Association ("RTA"), and numerous individuals employed by, or associated with, the RCSD or RTA. In these and other cases (see also Seils v. RCSD;1 Murphy v. RCSD, 00-CV-6038; Matics v. RCSD, 00-CV-6612), the prolix complaints set forth numerous vague, often incoherent, causes of action on behalf of current and former RCSD teachers. Because of glaring procedural defects and lack of evidentiary support for the claims, the Court grants summary judgment in favor of all defendants on all causes of action.2

Mary Lou Bliss

Mary Lou Bliss ("Bliss"), who had been a teacher in the RCSD and a member of RTA, commenced her action against twenty-four named defendants as well as unnamed defendants comprised of "all of the sentry staff at BFHS (Benjamin Franklin

Page 318

High School) between 1996 and 1999." (Bliss Complaint, Dkt. # 1, nte. 2). Bliss alleges, in nine separate causes of action, claims involving breach of contract, discrimination, and retaliation in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("§ 1983"), 42 U.S.C. § 1985 ("§ 1985"), the New York State Constitution, the New York Human Rights Law ("NYHRL"), and the New York Civil Rights Law ("NYCRL"). The complaint alone contains 138 separate paragraphs covering 38 pages.3 Twenty of the named defendants are directly related to RCSD ("the RCSD defendants in Bliss"). They include past or present RCSD employees and past or present members of its board. Three of the named defendants are directly related to RTA ("the RTA defendants in Bliss"). One of the defendants is a former student in the RCSD.

Nancy Coons

Nancy Coons ("Coons"), currently a RCSD teacher and RTA member, commenced her action against twenty-five named defendants. As Bliss does in her case, Coons also alleges claims involving breach of contract, discrimination, and retaliation in violation of Title VII, § 1983, § 1985, the New York State Constitution, the NYHRL, and the NYCRL. Twenty-two of the named defendants are directly related to RCSD ("the RCSD defendants in Coons"). They include past or present RCSD employees and past or present members of its board. Three of the named defendants are directly related to RTA ("the RTA defendants in Coons"), and are identical to the defendants named by Bliss.

Pamela Eaton

Pamela Eaton ("Eaton"), another RCSD teacher and RTA member, commenced her action against thirty-one named defendants. As with Bliss and Coons, Eaton alleges claims involving breach of contract, discrimination, and retaliation in violation of Title VII, § 1983, § 1985, the New York State Constitution, the NYHRL, and the NYCRL. Unlike Bliss and Coons, however, Eaton also alleges violations of the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d) ("EPA"). The complaint contains 89 separate paragraphs (one paragraph alone has an additional 61 subparagraphs) (see Eaton Complaint, ¶ 32) covering 41 pages. Twenty-six of the named defendants are directly related to RCSD ("the RCSD defendants in Eaton"). They include past or present RCSD employees and past or present members of its board. Four of the named defendants are directly related to RTA ("the RTA defendants in Eaton"). As Bliss does, Eaton names a former student as one of the defendants.

II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Presently before the Court are the RCSD defendants' and RTA defendants'4 separate motions to dismiss, or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. In response, plaintiffs have cross-moved for partial summary judgment and for injunctive relief. In addition, plaintiffs moved to "supplement the record," to amend the complaint, and sought various forms of discovery-related relief.

Plaintiffs have made the Court's review more difficult by the voluminous, vague and repetitive papers submitted in response to defendants' motions or in support

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of plaintiffs' various cross-motions. As I noted in Seils, "[t]he volume and prolixity is seemingly `designed to obscure rather than to illumine the events giving rise to this lawsuit.'" Seils v. RCSD, entered January 23, 2002, pp. 2-3 (Dkt.# 212) (quoting Pross v. Katz, 784 F.2d 455, 456 (2d Cir.1986)). Indeed, plaintiffs' counsel frequently "incorporated by reference" numerous, voluminous documents filed in several cases which she considers "related." See, e.g., Bliss, Dkt. # s 22, 27. Together, all of these papers would be measured in feet rather than inches. Moreover, plaintiffs' failure to furnish specific citation and argument as to how these myriad papers demonstrate any issue of fact warranting trial:

assumes the district court has an affirmative obligation to plumb the record in order to find a genuine issue of material fact. It does not. A district court is not required to speculate on which portion of the record the nonmoving party relies, nor is it obligated to wade through and search the entire record for some specific facts that might support the nonmoving party's claim. Once [defendant] met its burden of demonstrating a lack of genuine issues of material fact, [plaintiff] was required to designate specific facts creating a triable controversy.

Barge v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc., 87 F.3d 256, 260 (8th Cir.1996) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted); see also Friedel v. City of Madison, 832 F.2d 965, 969 (7th Cir.1987) (stating that it was not the court's "duty on appeal to wade through the record and make arguments for either party" and that the nonmoving parties were "fatally remiss in citing to the district court portions of the record that they claimed supported their assertions"). This is not the first time that I have admonished plaintiffs' counsel for her failure to specify the relevance of materials on which she has sought to rely. See Seils v. RCSD, Court's letter to plaintiffs' counsel, dated February 15, 2000, and Decision and Order, entered January 23, 2002 (Dkt.# 212).

III. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Mary Lou Bliss

Bliss, a fifty-six year-old Caucasian female, has been employed by RCSD as a special education teacher since 1988. With one exception5, Bliss taught at Franklin High School ("Franklin") during the course of her employment at RCSD.

Bliss claims, and defendants do not dispute, that she was brutally attacked by a former student, defendant Henry Hill, on March 31, 1998. As a result of Hill's criminal assault, Bliss was hospitalized and took a disability leave-of-absence from her teaching position at Franklin. Bliss claims that when she returned after her medical leave, she was subjected to further harassment by students which caused her to leave Franklin. She has been on medical leave since October 1999.

Most of Bliss's claims revolve around Hill's assault. Bliss sets forth nine causes of action, including claims that defendants6 discriminated against her because of her "race and/or color and/or sex and/or age" as well, apparently, as her national origin and disability, and retaliated against her. Bliss Complaint, Dkt. # 1, ¶ 1, ¶ 5, p. 10; ¶ 101. Bliss also alleges a laundry list of claims she considers "harassment" by students that she experienced while at Franklin. Although it is unclear, Bliss appears to claim that she was harassed by students because she is Caucasian, or female,

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or older, or disabled. On October 20, 2000, Bliss commenced this action.

Nancy Coons

Coons, also a Caucasian female, was hired by RCSD in 1993 as a substitute teacher, and in 1998 she accepted a full-time position. During the 1998-1999 and 1999-2000 academic years, Coons was assigned as an art teacher at School No. 6, an RCSD elementary school. In January 1999, Coons sought to transfer to a different school. The RCSD defendants maintain that her transfer request was denied because there were no art teaching positions available into which she could transfer. In September 2000, Coons voluntarily transferred to a full-time position that allows her to teach regularly at a number of different schools. According to the most recent information submitted to the Court, Coons currently teaches at four different schools (School Nos. 2, 7, 33, and 34) every week.

Like Bliss, Coons alleges a variety of claims. However, she appears to focus her claims on RCSD's hiring and transfer procedures. In particular, she alleges both that she was not offered her permanent position soon enough and that her 1999 transfer request was denied because of her race and national origin, and that she was also discriminated against because of her color and gender, and in retaliation for her actions. Indeed, as Bliss has alleged, Coons claims that defendants discriminated against her because of her "race and/or color and/or national origin and/or sex" as well, apparently, as her age and disability, and retaliated against her. Coons Complaint, Dkt. # 1, ¶¶ 1, 21, 33.

On July 6, 2000, Coons commenced this action. Thereafter, 168 days elapsed before Coons first attempted to serve her complaint on December 21, 2000.

Pamela Eaton

Eaton, a "Native American/white female" (Eaton Complaint, Dkt. # 1, ¶ 3), has been...

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28 practice notes
  • Cowan v. City of Mount Vernon, Case No. 12–CV–6881KMK.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 27 Marzo 2015
    ...F.3d 329, 341 (2d Cir.2000) (alterations in original) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Bliss v. Rochester City Sch. Dist., 196 F.Supp.2d 314, 337 (W.D.N.Y. Mar.28, 2002) (same), aff'd 103 Fed.Appx. 421 (2d Cir.2004), aff'd sub nom. Eaton v. Rochester City Sch. Dist., 100 Fed.App......
  • Lumhoo v. Home Depot Usa, Inc., No. CV00-5267(MLO).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • 26 Septiembre 2002
    ...Plaintiffs' filings did not occur until after the allegedly improper conduct occurred. See Bliss v. Rochester City School Dist., 196 F.Supp.2d 314 (W.D.N.Y.2002) (plaintiffs failed to establish prima facie case of retaliation under Title VII, where protected activity of filing charge with E......
  • Afkhami v. Carnival Corp., No. 02-21957-CIV.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • 28 Enero 2004
    ...treatment claims involve an isolated incident of discrimination against a single plaintiff); Bliss v. Rochester City Sch. Dist., 196 F.Supp.2d 314 (W.D.N.Y.2002) (finding that to make out a pattern and practice case, a plaintiff alleging discrimination must show systematic disparate treatme......
  • Germain v. M & T Bank Corp., No. 13–CV–7273 (KMK).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 19 Junio 2015
    ...F.3d 329, 341 (2d Cir.2000) (alterations in original) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Bliss v. Rochester City Sch. Dist., 196 F.Supp.2d 314, 337 (W.D.N.Y. Mar. 28, 2002) (same), aff'd, 103 Fed.Appx. 421 (2d Cir.2004). "[A] plaintiff must provide some factual basis supporting a ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
28 cases
  • Cowan v. City of Mount Vernon, Case No. 12–CV–6881KMK.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 27 Marzo 2015
    ...F.3d 329, 341 (2d Cir.2000) (alterations in original) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Bliss v. Rochester City Sch. Dist., 196 F.Supp.2d 314, 337 (W.D.N.Y. Mar.28, 2002) (same), aff'd 103 Fed.Appx. 421 (2d Cir.2004), aff'd sub nom. Eaton v. Rochester City Sch. Dist., 100 Fed.App......
  • Lumhoo v. Home Depot Usa, Inc., No. CV00-5267(MLO).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • 26 Septiembre 2002
    ...Plaintiffs' filings did not occur until after the allegedly improper conduct occurred. See Bliss v. Rochester City School Dist., 196 F.Supp.2d 314 (W.D.N.Y.2002) (plaintiffs failed to establish prima facie case of retaliation under Title VII, where protected activity of filing charge with E......
  • Afkhami v. Carnival Corp., No. 02-21957-CIV.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • 28 Enero 2004
    ...treatment claims involve an isolated incident of discrimination against a single plaintiff); Bliss v. Rochester City Sch. Dist., 196 F.Supp.2d 314 (W.D.N.Y.2002) (finding that to make out a pattern and practice case, a plaintiff alleging discrimination must show systematic disparate treatme......
  • Germain v. M & T Bank Corp., No. 13–CV–7273 (KMK).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 19 Junio 2015
    ...F.3d 329, 341 (2d Cir.2000) (alterations in original) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Bliss v. Rochester City Sch. Dist., 196 F.Supp.2d 314, 337 (W.D.N.Y. Mar. 28, 2002) (same), aff'd, 103 Fed.Appx. 421 (2d Cir.2004). "[A] plaintiff must provide some factual basis supporting a ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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