Horney v. Westfield Gage Co.

Citation211 F.Supp.2d 291
Decision Date20 June 2002
Docket NumberNo. CIV.A.99-30175-KPN.,CIV.A.99-30175-KPN.
PartiesAnita J. HORNEY, Plaintiff v. WESTFIELD GAGE CO., et al., Defendants
CourtUnited States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts

Donna M. Cuipylo, W. Roxbury, MA, for Anita J. Horney, Plaintiff.

Thomas E. Shirley, Karen D. Lane, Choate, Hall & Stewart, Boston, MA, Timothy J. Ryan, Theodore F. Glockner, Crevier & Ryan, LLP, Springfield, MA, for Westfield Gage Co., defendant.

Mark E. Draper, Annino, Draper & Moore, P.C., Springfield, MA, Timothy J. Ryan, Theodore F. Glockner, Crevier & Ryan, LLP, Springfield, MA, for Edward Woodis, Defendant.


NEIMAN, United States Magistrate Judge.

On November 5, 2001, after more than two weeks of trial, a jury entered a verdict which was favorable to Anita Horney ("Plaintiff") in this employment discrimination action.1 The jury found both defendantsPlaintiff's former employer, Westfield Gage Co. ("Westfield Gage"), and her former supervisor, Edward Woodis ("Woodis") —liable to varying degrees; it found Westfield Gage liable for gender discrimination (in the amount of $750,000), for sexual harassment ($250,000) and for an equal pay violation ($8,140), and it found Woodis liable for sexual harassment ($25,000). On November 27, 2001, the court, after calculating interest, entered judgment against Westfield Gage in the amount of $1,077,057.12 and against Woodis in the amount of $31,888.26.

Following the entry of judgment, a number of motions were filed. This memorandum addresses the following five: Plaintiff's Motion to Enforce the Settlement Agreement Between Her and Woodis (Docket No. 218), what the court treats as Woodis' Motion that Westfield Gage be Ordered to Pay the $25,000 Settlement (included within Docket No. 221 (Woodis' Response to Plaintiff's Motion to Enforce)), Westfield Gage's Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict (Docket No. 210), Westfield Gage's Motion for a New Trial or for Remittitur (Docket No. 212) and Woodis' Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law or for a New Trial (Docket No. 209).2

For the reasons which follow, the court will allow Plaintiff's motion to enforce the settlement between her and Woodis, deny Woodis' motion to order Westfield Gage to pay the settlement amount and deny, as moot, Woodis' other post-judgment motion. The court will also deny Westfield Gage's post-judgment motions in all but one respect; Westfield Gage will be granted a new trial on Plaintiff's gender discrimination claim unless Plaintiff agrees to remit the $750,000 damages found by the jury on that claim to $187,500.


The background is sketched in a light most favorable to the jury's verdict. See O'Connor v. Huard, 117 F.3d 12, 14-15 (1st Cir.1997). Specific facts with respect to the two settlement motions, for which there was a separate evidentiary hearing, are addressed in the court's discussion of those issues.3

Plaintiff was employed by Westfield Gage, a machine shop, from April of 1994 until April 9, 1998. (See Plaintiff's Exhibit 4; Docket No. 240 (Transcript Volume ("Tr.Vol.") II) at 58.) At all relevant times, Woodis was Plaintiff's supervisor. (Docket No. 241 (Tr. Vol.I) at 92-93.)

Plaintiff started out as a parts marker with a salary of $8 per hour and ended her tenure at Westfield Gage as an inspector making $10 per hour. (See id. at 74-78.) Plaintiff got her last raise near the end of 1996 directly from Westfield Gage's owner. (Id. at 77-78.) When Woodis found out that Plaintiff went over his head, he stated, according to her testimony: "If you fucking try that again I'll get rid of you. You'll lose your job." (Id. at 78.) Plaintiff never got another raise. (Id.)

Sexually-explicit material was prevalent throughout Westfield Gage. For example, calendars depicting scantily-clad women in suggestive poses and posters of girls in bikinis were "all over the place" (id. at 84-85) and a picture of a woman's breasts was taped to the inside of a light fixture (Docket No. 246 (Tr. Vol.VI) at 36-37). There were Penthouse, Playboy and Hustler magazines in the plant and a gay men's pornographic magazine kept showing up at Plaintiff's desk. (Tr. Vol. II at 86; Docket No. 239 (Tr. Vol.III) at 14.) In addition, jokes with sexual content were passed throughout the shop and some were even displayed publicly. (Tr. Vol. I at 88; Tr. Vol. II at 116-17.) Indeed, at some point during her employment Plaintiff shared a bench with a male worker who kept in his tool box—which he had to open in Plaintiff's view—a picture of a woman in a "seated position with her knees up" who was wearing "very lacy, thin underpants with [her] genitalia" exposed. (Tr. Vol. I at 103-04.) Further, Ed Menard, Plaintiff's "mentor" in the inspections department, gave her several suggestive postcards, one of which stated: "It's National Vibrator Week[;] Bring One Home To A Friend." (Tr. Vol. II at 42-43; Plaintiff's Exhibit 6.) To be sure, Plaintiff complained about much of the material and it was removed, but it "went right back up" soon thereafter. (See Tr. Vol. III at 46-47.)

The plant was also rife with rough language directed at women. For example, one of Plaintiff's male co-workers once looked at Plaintiff and stated: "Women are only good at getting fucked up the ass at Westfield Gage." (Tr. Vol. II at 43.) Woodis, too, was verbally abusive toward Plaintiff. As Plaintiff testified, "[Woodis] would get right in my face. His veins would pop out of his neck, he'd turn all red, he'd be pointing his finger at me." (Tr. Vol. I at 113.) Plaintiff also testified that Woodis:

told her she was "bullshitting" and should just "go ahead [and] fucking leave" when she asked him if she could depart early to take her mother to a doctor's appointment (id. at 110);

screamed at her when she broke a tooth and had to leave work to get it fixed (id. at 111);

screamed at her when others neglected their duties, asking "How come this job isn't fucking done?" (Tr. Vol. II at 27). daily asked her "[w]hose desk [she was] under?" (id. at 40-41);

used the words "cunt" and "bitch" in her presence (Tr. Vol. III at 17);

asked her, in front of some male inspectors, if she was "fucking" or "blowing" a male co-worker who dropped off parts at her bench (Tr. Vol. II at 41);

told her that "They never should have hired women in this department" and that "Women don't belong in the ... machine shops" (id. at 44-45);

asked her, when she called herself "anal retentive," whether that was "what [her] mother taught [her] to do, lick ass?" (id. at 47); and

asked a male co-worker with whom she was having a conversation whether he was "fucking her mother?" (id. at 48).

At least one other employee testified that Woodis called Plaintiff a "cunt," a "bitch" and an "idiot," (Docket No. 245 (Tr. Vol.V) at 194), and that another male worker was heard to say "[t]hat there wasn't a woman on the face of the earth worth the paper to wipe his dirty ass," (Tr. Vol. VI at 34-35).

At times, Plaintiff participated in some of the conduct and language. For example, Plaintiff kept and displayed a postcard from her mentor which depicted "bare butts" (see Tr. Vol. II at 42, 203; Plaintiff's Exhibit 5) and another postcard of "guys in bathing suits" (Tr. Vol. I at 86). Also, Plaintiff admitted that, on one occasion, she "might have" worn ripped jeans to work with a hole in the seat (Tr. Vol. II at 151), conceded that she laughed at some of the dirty jokes and the gay men's magazine (Tr. Vol. I at 88; Tr. Vol. II at 86-87) and once, "for a couple of seconds," borrowed someone's wind-up penis toy (Tr. Vol. III at 104-05). Plaintiff also told people at Westfield Gage that she used to have a tattoo of a mouse, but that her "pussy must have got it." (Tr. Vol. II at 204.) In addition, Plaintiff acknowledged that, during her employment at Westfield Gage, she used the terms "cunt," "bitch," "fucking cunt," "fucking bitch" and "young, dumb and full of cum." (Id. at 204-05.)

Still, Plaintiff testified that she was most offended by vulgar and profane language that was "abusive and combative"; e.g., Plaintiff felt that the F-word used in joke was not as bad as "F you" stated "in a nasty way." (Id. at 183.) In this vein, Plaintiff also testified that there were a "lot of times" that she left the workplace in tears because Woodis or another supervisor was screaming at her. (Tr. Vol. I at 113.)

Plaintiff made a number of informal complaints about the environment at Westfield Gage to Judy Gutt. (See Tr. Vol. II at 209 ("It was a daily thing that I reported [sexual harassment] to Judy Gutt"); Tr. Vol. V at 199 (indicating that Plaintiff seemed to complain to Gutt "on a regular basis").) Gutt, who worked in the accounts payable department, was the employee identified to Plaintiff as her "human resources" contact, i.e., the "person to whom people could make complaints of sexual harassment." (See Tr. Vol. I at 118; Tr. Vol. V at 194, 238-41.) Daniel Berube, Gutt's boss, assigned her that task. (Tr. Vol.65, 240-41.)

Plaintiff also formally reported to Gutt at least one instance of harassment by a male supervisor on a morning in February of 1997. (Tr. Vol. I at 115-18.) On that day, Plaintiff entered the cafeteria at about five minutes to six, the time her shift started, and found five male workers milling around. (Id. at 115-16.) The men stated: "Oh good, Anita's here. Coffee's going to be made, vitamins."4 (Id. at 116.) About two minutes to six, the supervisor, Jim Frisbie, walked in, greeted the men and then started yelling and swearing at Plaintiff because she was "wasting company time." (Id. at 116-17. See also Tr. Vol. III at 55-56.) Plaintiff reported the incident to Gutt who asked Plaintiff if she wanted to write out a formal complaint, which she did. (Tr. Vol. I at 119.)

As part of her report, Gutt promised Plaintiff that...

To continue reading

Request your trial
2 cases
  • Horney v. Westfield Gage Co.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Massachusetts
    • October 17, 2002
    ...The background of the underlying matter has been extensively detailed in prior court decisions. See Horney v. Westfield Gage Co., 211 F.Supp.2d 291, 296-301 (D.Mass.2002); Horney v. Westfield Gage Co., 95 F.Supp.2d 29, 31-32 (D.Mass.2000). Therefore, the court describes only those facts sal......
  • Horney v. Westfield Gage Company, Civil Action No. 99-30175-KPN (D. Mass. 10/17/2002), Civil Action No. 99-30175-KPN.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Massachusetts
    • October 17, 2002
    ...The background of the underlying matter has been extensively detailed in prior court decisions. See Horney v. Westfield Gage Co., 211 F. Supp.2d 291, 296-301 (D.Mass. 2002); Horney v. Westfield Gage Co., 95 F. Supp.2d 29, 31-32 (D.Mass. 2000). Therefore, the court describes only those facts......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT