Chester v. NW Iowa Youth Emergency Serv. Center, C 93-4024.

Decision Date04 October 1994
Docket NumberNo. C 93-4024.,C 93-4024.
Citation869 F. Supp. 700
PartiesTerri CHESTER, Plaintiff, v. NORTHWEST IOWA YOUTH EMERGENCY SERVICES CENTER and Steve D. Geringer, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of West Virginia

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William Cook and John Cook, Jr., of Herrick, Ary, Cook, Cook, Cook, & Cook, Cherokee, IA, for plaintiff.

Sam S. Killinger, of Rawlings, Neiland, Probasco, Killinger, Ellwanger, Jacobs & Mohrhauser, Sioux City, IA, for defendant Steve D. Geringer.

Doug Phillips of Klass, Hanks, Stoos, Stoik, Villone, Sioux City, IA, and John A. Wibe of Martin, Wibe & Cozine, Cherokee, IA, for defendant YES Center.

ORDER RE: DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

BENNETT, District Judge.

                  I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND ...........................................  703
                 II. STANDARDS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ..................................  704
                III. FINDINGS OF FACT ................................................  706
                     A. Undisputed Facts .............................................  706
                     B. Disputed Facts ...............................................  707
                 IV. LEGAL ANALYSIS ..................................................  708
                     A. The Intentional Infliction Of Emotional Distress Claim .......  708
                        1. Elements Of The Tort ......................................  709
                        2. The Outrageousness Of Defendants' Conduct .................  709
                        3. Sufficiency Of Plaintiff's Emotional Distress .............  711
                        4. Preemption By The Iowa Civil Rights Act ...................  712
                     B. Subject Matter Jurisdiction Over The Title VII Claims ........  715
                     C. Lack Of A Federal Question ...................................  718
                  V. THE MOTION TO DISMISS ...........................................  720
                 VI. CONCLUSION ......................................................  720
                

This case involves claims of sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, and intentional infliction of emotional distress brought by the assistant director of a juvenile detention center against the center and its supervisor. Defendants have independently moved for summary judgment on some of the claims in the complaint. The supervisor's and the center's motions for summary judgment require the court to examine the effect of the exclusive remedy provisions of the Iowa Civil Rights Act, former Iowa Code Ch. 601A, now Iowa Code Ch. 216, on other causes of action. The supervisor's motion for summary judgment requires the court to examine the sufficiency of proof required under Iowa law for each element of the common law tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress. The center's motion requires the court to consider the proper method of determining the number of employees and identity of the employer under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(b) in a case involving a facility created by eleven counties in northwest Iowa.

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Terri Chester (Chester) filed her complaint in this matter on March 1, 1993, following her dismissal from her position as assistant director of the defendant Northwest Iowa Youth Emergency Services Center (YES Center). The original complaint was in five counts, the first four of which were against the YES Center, and the last of which was against both the YES Center and defendant Steve D. Geringer (Geringer), the director of the YES Center. Count I alleged sexual harassment by creation of a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Count II alleged quid pro quo sexual harassment in violation of Title VII. Count III presented a claim of sexual discrimination in violation of former Iowa Code Ch. 601A, now Iowa Code Ch. 216, which parallels the plaintiff's Title VII claims. Count IV alleged wrongful dismissal in violation of Iowa Code § 79.29, which prohibits discharge of an employee of a political subdivision as a reprisal for a disclosure of any information to public officials. Count V alleged common law intentional infliction of emotional distress. On July 13, 1994, Chester was granted leave to amend the complaint to add Geringer as a defendant in Counts I, II and III. On September 23, 1994, Geringer moved to dismiss Counts I, II and III against him on the ground that such claims were barred by Chester's failure to bring them within 90 days of receiving "right to sue" letters from the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

On April 1, 1994, Geringer moved for summary judgment on the only claim then brought against him, the claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Geringer's motion asserts that Chester can make no sufficient showing as a matter of law on any of the elements of the tort. Geringer also argues that the tort claim in Count V is barred by the exclusive remedy provisions of the Iowa workers' compensation scheme, Iowa Code § 85.20. Chester resisted the motion on April 15, 1994. On May 20, 1994, the YES Center moved for summary judgment on Counts I, II and V of the complaint. The YES Center argues that the tort claim in Count V is preempted by Iowa Code Ch. 601A. The YES Center also argues that the court has no subject matter jurisdiction over Counts I and II because 42 U.S.C. § 2000e is applicable only to employers with fifteen or more employees, and the YES Center did not have sufficient employees. Chester resisted the YES Center's motion for summary judgment on June 9, 1994. On May 23, 1994, Geringer filed his joinder in the YES Center's motion for summary judgment. Although Geringer's joinder states that Geringer "joins in and adopts all of the filings of the YES Center with regard to the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the YES Center," its prayer is only for dismissal of Count V. Count V was the only one on which Geringer was a defendant at that time. As well as moving to dismiss Counts I, II and III, on September 23, 1994, Geringer also filed a supplemental motion for summary judgment on Count V on the additional ground that Chester's remedy under Count III, if any, would be exclusive as to the conduct alleged in Count V. Chester resisted the supplemental motion for summary judgment on September 27, 1994.

Oral argument was held on the motions for summary judgment on September 27, 1994. Chester was represented at the hearing by counsel William Cook and John Cook, Jr., of Herrick, Ary, Cook, Cook, Cook & Cook, in Cherokee, Iowa. Geringer was represented by counsel Sam S. Killinger, of Rawlings, Neiland, Probasco, Killinger, Ellwanger, Jacobs & Mohrhauser, of Sioux City, Iowa. The YES Center was represented by counsel Doug Phillips of Klass, Hanks, Stoos, Stoik, Villone, of Sioux City, Iowa, and John A. Wibe of Martin, Wibe & Cozine, of Cherokee, Iowa. This matter is now fully submitted. The motions were well-briefed and well-argued by counsel for all parties.

II. STANDARDS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

The Eighth Circuit recognizes "that summary judgment is a drastic remedy and must be exercised with extreme care to prevent taking genuine issues of fact away from juries." Wabun-Inini v. Sessions, 900 F.2d 1234, 1238 (8th Cir.1990). On the other hand, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure have authorized for nearly 60 years "motions for summary judgment upon proper showings of the lack of a genuine, triable issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2555, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Thus, "summary judgment procedure is properly regarded not as a disfavored procedural shortcut, but rather as an integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are designed `to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action.'" Wabun-Inini, 900 F.2d at 1238 (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2555, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986)); Hartnagel v. Norman, 953 F.2d 394, 396 (8th Cir.1992).

The standard for granting summary judgment is well established. Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states in pertinent part:

Rule 56. Summary Judgment
(b) For Defending Party. A party against whom a claim ... is asserted ... may, at any time, move for summary judgment in the party's favor as to all or any part thereof.
(c) Motions and Proceedings Thereon.... The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(b) & (c) (emphasis added); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Munz v. Michael, 28 F.3d 795, 798 (8th Cir.1994); Roth v. U.S.S. Great Lakes Fleet, Inc., 25 F.3d 707, 708 (8th Cir. 1994); Cole v. Bone, 993 F.2d 1328, 1331 (8th Cir.1993); Woodsmith Publishing Co. v. Meredith Corp., 904 F.2d 1244, 1247 (8th Cir.1990); Wabun-Inini, 900 F.2d at 1238 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)).1 A court considering a motion for summary judgment must view all the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, here Chester, and give Chester the benefit of all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the facts. Matsushita v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986) (quoting United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S.Ct. 993, 8 L.Ed.2d 176 (1962)); Munz v. Michael, 28 F.3d 795, 796 (8th Cir.1994); Allison v. Flexway Trucking, Inc., 28 F.3d 64, 66 (8th Cir. 1994); Johnson v. Group Health Plan, Inc., 994 F.2d 543, 545 (8th Cir.1993); Burk v. Beene, 948 F.2d 489, 492 (8th Cir.1991); Coday v. City of Springfield, 939 F.2d 666, 667 (8th Cir.1991), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 112 S.Ct. 1170, 117 L.Ed.2d 416 (1992).

Procedurally, the moving parties, Geringer and the YES Center, bear "the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for...

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