Kraus v. Sobel Corrugated Containers, Inc., No. 89-3652

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore KENNEDY, Circuit Judge, and CELEBREZZE and BROWN; BAILEY BROWN
Citation915 F.2d 227
Parties53 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 1691, 54 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 40,285 Patricia M. KRAUS, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. SOBEL CORRUGATED CONTAINERS, INC., and Terry Sobel, Defendants-Appellees.
Docket NumberNo. 89-3652
Decision Date28 September 1990

Page 227

915 F.2d 227
53 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 1691,
54 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 40,285
Patricia M. KRAUS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
SOBEL CORRUGATED CONTAINERS, INC., and Terry Sobel,
Defendants-Appellees.
No. 89-3652.
United States Court of Appeals,
Sixth Circuit.
Argued April 13, 1990.
Decided Sept. 28, 1990.

Page 228

Robert V. Traci and Ellen Simon Sacks (argued), Spangenberg, Shibley, Traci & Lancione, Cleveland, Ohio, for plaintiff-appellant.

Stephen A. Markus (argued), Ulmer & Berne; and Gary W. Dubin, Cleveland, Ohio, for defendants-appellees.

Before KENNEDY, Circuit Judge, and CELEBREZZE and BROWN, Senior Circuit Judges.

BAILEY BROWN, Senior Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff-appellant Patricia Kraus ("Kraus") appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants Sobel Corrugated Containers, Inc. ("the Company") and its vice-president, Terry Sobel, in this wrongful discharge action brought pursuant to the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. Secs. 621-634, the analogous state statute, Ohio Rev.Code Ann. Sec. 4101.17, and a claim of breach of employment contract. For the reasons that follow, we reverse the decision of the district court.

I.

Kraus had been an employee of the Company for almost seventeen years when Terry Sobel fired her. A long-time bookkeeping department employee, she was terminated in January 1987, at the age of 57. It is undisputed that at the time of the firing there were no documents in Kraus' file that demonstrated either that her work was unsatisfactory or that her employer had given her prior notice that she was in danger of losing her job.

At the time of the termination, Kraus worked in bookkeeping with Amanda Adomaites, age 36; Phyllis Bloom, age 56; and Terry Sobel. Terry Sobel was the department manager and the son of Arthur Sobel, president of the Company. After the termination, Adomaites and Bloom performed Kraus' former duties and Lynn Shreifer, age 26, was added to the department to take over some of Adomaites' and Bloom's former duties. Shreifer was later replaced by Cheryl Truso, age 38.

Kraus claims that she was never given any oral or written advance warning that she was in danger of being terminated. She also claims that she was never given a specific reason for the firing. Instead, according to her, Arthur Sobel told her, after Terry Sobel had fired her, that she had made Terry nervous.

Conversely, the defendants claim that during the last 90-120 days of Kraus' tenure with the Company, Terry Sobel warned her that her inability to get along with other employees, her passing off work to Phyllis Bloom, and her insubordination were going to cause him to "make a change." The defendants claim that Kraus did not correct these deficiencies, and, therefore, Terry Sobel fired her.

The defendants offered deposition evidence in support of their motion for summary

Page 229

judgment. Terry Sobel testified in his deposition that he had warned Kraus about the aforementioned deficiencies the last 90-120 days that she worked at the Company. Arthur Sobel's deposition indicated that Kraus had been insubordinate to him. In Amanda Adomaites' deposition she testified that Kraus was insubordinate to Terry Sobel and that Kraus did not do her fair share of the work. Moreover, Phyllis Bloom testified in her deposition that Kraus "put work off on" Bloom and that Kraus was insubordinate to Terry and Arthur Sobel. Further, Frank Pearson, another employee of the Company, testified that Kraus had been so rude to a customer on one occasion that the customer had threatened to take his business elsewhere.

Kraus responded to the defendants' motion with affidavits and a deposition. She offered the affidavit of one former co-employee, who stated that Kraus had had no difficulty getting along with others at the Company. She also offered the deposition of a former co-employee who testified that, to her knowledge, Kraus had no performance problems at work and got along with people. Kraus offered her husband's affidavit, which stated that less than one month before Terry Sobel fired her, Terry had made statements at Kraus' home at a holiday dinner that praised her work and called it perfect, indicated that she was an excellent employee, referred to her as a team player and a key employee, and requested at least five years' notice from Kraus if she ever planned to leave the Company. Kraus also offered her affidavit, in which she stated that she was given no prior notice or warning of the impending discharge.

The district court determined that Kraus had made out a prima facie case of age discrimination, which is not contested on appeal, and that the defendants had articulated a business reason for discharging Kraus, which likewise is not contested on appeal. However, the court further determined that Kraus had failed to rebut the defendants' proffered reason for the firing. In making its determination, the court found that Kraus' husband's affidavit statements regarding Terry Sobel's having praised Kraus were "immaterial" and that their value should be "discounted" because the alleged statements had been made in a social setting in the Kraus home. The court made no reference to Kraus' affidavit in its analysis. It also discounted Kraus' offered affidavit and deposition of the former co-employees.

The district court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment an all of Kraus' claims. In addition to...

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107 practice notes
  • U.S. v. Morrow, Nos. 89-5418
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • January 10, 1991
    ...p. 3492. This Circuit recently held that "the phrase 'in relation to' modifies the element of 'during'..." in section 924(c). Brown, 915 F.2d at 227. Although the "in relation to" language does not add a substantive element or make section 924(c)(1) a specific intent offense, it alters the ......
  • United States v. Long, No. 1:12CV1209.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • March 26, 2014
    ...inferences to be drawn from it, in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Kraus v. Sobel Corrugated Containers, Inc., 915 F.2d 227, 229 (6th Cir.1990).The standard for the motion filed by the United States, as plaintiff carrying the burden of proof on its claims, is some......
  • Patrizi v. Huff, Case No. 1:09 CV 2830.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • September 26, 2011
    ...as well as any inferences to be drawn from it, in the light most favorable to the non-movant, Kraus v. Sobel Corrugated Containers, Inc., 915 F.2d 227, 229 (6th Cir.1990), Ms. Patrizi's speech never transformed into verbal conduct and her behavior never constituted an affirmative act. Ms. P......
  • Vistein v. American Registry of Radiologic Techns., No. 05 CV 2441.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • September 13, 2007
    ...to be drawn from it, in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. See Kraus v. Sobel Corrugated Containers, Inc., 915 F.2d 227, 229 (6th Cir.1990). The Court must also determine "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to the jury or wh......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
107 cases
  • U.S. v. Morrow, Nos. 89-5418
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • January 10, 1991
    ...p. 3492. This Circuit recently held that "the phrase 'in relation to' modifies the element of 'during'..." in section 924(c). Brown, 915 F.2d at 227. Although the "in relation to" language does not add a substantive element or make section 924(c)(1) a specific intent offense, it alters the ......
  • United States v. Long, No. 1:12CV1209.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • March 26, 2014
    ...inferences to be drawn from it, in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Kraus v. Sobel Corrugated Containers, Inc., 915 F.2d 227, 229 (6th Cir.1990).The standard for the motion filed by the United States, as plaintiff carrying the burden of proof on its claims, is some......
  • Patrizi v. Huff, Case No. 1:09 CV 2830.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • September 26, 2011
    ...as well as any inferences to be drawn from it, in the light most favorable to the non-movant, Kraus v. Sobel Corrugated Containers, Inc., 915 F.2d 227, 229 (6th Cir.1990), Ms. Patrizi's speech never transformed into verbal conduct and her behavior never constituted an affirmative act. Ms. P......
  • Vistein v. American Registry of Radiologic Techns., No. 05 CV 2441.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • September 13, 2007
    ...to be drawn from it, in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. See Kraus v. Sobel Corrugated Containers, Inc., 915 F.2d 227, 229 (6th Cir.1990). The Court must also determine "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to the jury or wh......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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