Marshall v. Nelson Elec., 88-C-1213-P.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 10th Circuit. Northern District of Oklahoma
Writing for the CourtPHILLIPS
Citation766 F. Supp. 1018
PartiesDeborah S. MARSHALL, Plaintiff, v. NELSON ELECTRIC, A UNIT OF GENERAL SIGNAL, et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberNo. 88-C-1213-P.,88-C-1213-P.
Decision Date21 June 1991



Mary Morris, Greg A. Morris, Sandra Tolliver, Morris and Morris, Tulsa, Okl., for plaintiff.

Michael J. Gibbens, Jones, Givens, Gotcher, Bogan & Hilborne, Tulsa, Okl., for defendants.

William E. Hughes, Tulsa, Okl., for Luther Noah.


PHILLIPS, District Judge.


Plaintiff, Deborah Marshall ("Marshall"), after being laid off by her employer, Nelson Electric, filed the instant action alleging violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Defendants are Nelson Electric and Luther Noah ("Noah").

Marshall alleged Noah, an employee of Nelson Electric who served as a foreman during most of Marshall's tenure there, engaged in continued sexual harassment at the workplace, and further alleged Nelson Electric ignored and acquiesced in that harassment. Marshall also alleged defendants retaliated against her because she refused to succumb to this harassment. Marshall alleged these actions constituted extreme and outrageous conduct which caused her to suffer severe physical and emotional distress.

Defendants denied Marshall's claims and asserted Marshall initiated and participated in much of the sexually-related conduct which occurred at the workplace. Defendants further asserted Marshall's layoff was not in retaliation for her actions but rather was a result of a significant economic downturn at the Tulsa location. Finally, defendants denied that any physical or emotional distress suffered by Marshall was due to any conduct of the defendants, but rather was due to conditions unrelated to Marshall's employment at Nelson Electric, including but not limited to Marshall's prior suicide attempt, physical abuse she was suffering at the hands of her husband, an extramarital affair she was having while employed at Nelson Electric, and other factors.

The intentional infliction of emotional distress claim was determined by the jury. The Title VII claim against Nelson Electric was tried to the Court. Although both claims were tried simultaneously, the Court heard some brief testimony outside the presence of the jury which pertained only to the Title VII claim.1 At the conclusion of the evidence, both defendants moved for a directed verdict. The Court took these motions under advisement. On the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, the jury awarded Marshall $2,500 compensatory damages against Noah, $93,000 compensatory damages against Nelson Electric, $2,500 punitive damages against Noah, and $62,000 punitive damages against Nelson Electric. The Court entered a partial judgment based on the jury award on October 26, 1990, and took the Title VII matter under advisement. Both defendants subsequently filed motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict ("jnov") on the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim and filed proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law on the Title VII claim. Marshall filed a brief in opposition to defendants' motions for jnov on the emotional distress claim, and also filed proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law on the Title VII claim.

The Court grants the defendants' motions for directed verdict and jnov on the emotional distress claim, finds in favor of Nelson Electric on the Title VII claim, and renders judgment in favor of defendants.


Marshall called the following witnesses at trial: Tom Birmingham, John Bell, George T. (Terry) Camp, Bill Coday, Bill Coleman, John Edwards, Randy Edwards, John Fitzgerald, Thomas Goodman, M.D., Jerry Holloman, Juanita Holloman, Jackie Howell, David Huettner, Ph.D., Charles Marshall, Deborah Marshall, Metta McGee (by deposition), Luther Noah, Wayne Schnee, Harold Wallace, and Vicki Williams.

Defendants called the following witnesses at trial: Dr. Jan Capehart, Dr. William Chop, Billy G. Coleman, Randy L. Edwards, Patricia A. McDannald, Luther Noah, Doris W. Skock, and Edward M. Wall.

The Court received into evidence numerous exhibits at trial, introduced by both plaintiff and defendant. The Court's rulings on the offer of these documentary exhibits are reflected in the trial transcript.


The parties entered into the following factual stipulations:

1. Plaintiff was employed at Nelson Electric from October 4, 1976 until July 2, 1987.
2. On August 16, 1986, plaintiff was laid off from Department 411 and chose to bump into Department 710.
3. Luther Noah's employment with Nelson Electric ceased as of November 1, 1986.
4. On June 15, 1987, plaintiff voluntarily chose to be laid off from Department 710 and chose to bump into Department 411.
5. Effective July 2, 1987, plaintiff and Jackie Howell were laid off from Department 411.
6. Plaintiff filed a formal complaint of sexual harassment with the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission on December 16, 1987.
7. On September 12, 1988, plaintiff filed this lawsuit.

See Jury Instruction No. 3 (Oct. 18, 1990). The Court adopts these stipulations.


Although numerous witnesses testified in this matter, the following testimony is pertinent to the pending motions for jnov and provides an overview of the allegations advanced by both sides.

Marshall testified that during her tenure at Nelson Electric, Noah embarked on a course of conduct that constituted sexual harassment. Marshall testified Noah referred to the women who worked for him as his "little harem"; asked Marshall if her jeans rubbed her crotch and made it wet; asked her how far or deep a man could "go inside" her; stated he wanted to marry her, wanted her to lay around the house naked and put his face in her "snatch"; and quoted repeatedly from the Bible in a way that suggested it was proper for Noah to have sex with her. He also allegedly told her that he would be very "gentle" with her and cause her to have multiple orgasms.

Marshall further testified Noah physically touched her in a variety of ways; grabbed at her; deliberately bumped into her rear and breasts; sneaked up behind her when she was bent over; and showed her pictures from Penthouse magazine. She described one occasion at work when Noah touched her between the legs and on the breast and then claimed "the devil made me do it." She also described several occasions when Noah fashioned male penises out of putty, put them in his pants, and pranced around the work area. He also allegedly threatened her job if she did not "meet with him in private." Marshall testified she never succumbed to these advances.

On cross-examination, Marshall acknowledged she also used "dirty talk" in the workplace; admitted from time to time she had asked others at work whether they had sex the night before; admitted she did not mention sexual harassment in the union grievance she pursued in connection with her layoff; conceded she was involved in an incident when Noah's pants were pulled down at work; and acknowledged that despite this alleged harassment at the hands of Noah, she repeatedly contacted Nelson Electric management after her transfer to another department asking to be transferred back into Noah's department and placed under his supervision.

One of the key witnesses called by the defense was Dr. William Chop, Marshall's treating physician. Psychiatry is an integral part of Chop's practice. Unlike other expert witnesses specifically retained to render opinions for this litigation, Chop began treating Marshall before the lawyers on both sides of this lawsuit arrived on the scene. Chop, however, was not called as a witness by Marshall. Instead, Chop was called as a defense witness by Nelson Electric.

Chop began treating Marshall on January 14, 1988, for pain, numbness and physical complaints. He last saw her on March 29, 1988. Despite the fact that Chop treated Marshall for two months, absent from Chop's testimony and medical records is any pre-litigation reference by Marshall to sexual harassment at her workplace. Instead, Marshall blamed her symptoms on a work-related injury that occurred in March of 1987. According to Chop, Marshall specifically attributed her weight gain problem to the worker's compensation accident. She also related to Chop a suicide attempt which resulted from her husband beating her. In Chop's opinion, it was "almost impossible" to determine the source of Marshall's many problems, including depression. Chop testified that sexual harassment was an unlikely cause of Marshall's emotional problems.

Nelson Electric's exhibit 54 contains Dr. Chop's notes, as well as several other papers. The third page of the exhibit, bearing a page no. of 499, contains Chop's notes of the oral history given by Marshall to Chop during Marshall's initial visit. There is no reference to any sexual harassment. It states in part:

Patient presents with long, somewhat vague history of ten months of problems with pain in her neck, back and numbness extending into the arms and the hands with a very worried affect about this ... She has had a normal EMG on the left upper extremity where she has experienced most of her numbness and shooting pain a month after the initial work accident which occurred 3/2/87, where she was spun around by a machine ...

The next page of exhibit 54, bearing page no. 500, contains Chop's notes regarding Marshall's visit of January 27, 1988. There is no reference to harassment. There is mention, however, of Marshall's suicide gesture, which Chop described in part as follows:

In addition, patient has transverse scars on the left wrist from a suicidal gesture about ten to 15 years ago

To continue reading

Request your trial
8 cases
  • Neufeld v. Neufeld
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • January 23, 1996
    ...foreign to the purpose of statutes of limitation." 214 A.D.2d at 1004-1005, 626 N.Y.S.2d at 907 (quoting Marshall v. Nelson Elec., 766 F.Supp. 1018, 1032 (N.D.Okl.1991), aff'd, 999 F.2d 547 (10th The court in Marshall relied on Koster v. Chase Manhattan Bank, 609 F.Supp. at 1197 (S.D.N.Y. 1......
  • Lambert v. Genesee Hosp.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • November 24, 1993
    ...have been submitted to the jury, the jury's verdict is equally infirm, and thus cannot have binding effect. See Marshall v. Nelson Elec., 766 F.Supp. 1018, 1027 (N.D.Okla.1991) ("[I]f the ... claim should not have been submitted to the jury in the first place, the jury's findings are viewed......
  • Easiley v. Norris
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. Northern District of Oklahoma
    • August 9, 2000 favor of the defendant. See EEOC v. St. Louis-San Francisco Rwy. Co., 743 F.2d 739 (10th Cir.1984); Marshall v. Nelson Electric, 766 F.Supp. 1018 (N.D.Okla.1991); and Tang v. State of Rhode Island, 163 F.3d 7 (1st Cir.1998). There was, therefore, no need for these case to address whether......
  • Bonner v. Guccione, 94 Civ. 7735 (DLC).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • January 19, 1996
    ...Weisman v. Weisman, 108 A.D.2d 853, 485 N.Y.S.2d 570 (2d Dep't. 1985). The Foley Court relied on Marshall v. Nelson Electric, 766 F.Supp. 1018, 1032 (N.D.Okl.1991), aff'd, 999 F.2d 547 (10th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 114 S.Ct. 921, 127 L.Ed.2d 215 (1994), which, after surveyin......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Trial preparation
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Litigating Sexual Harassment & Sex Discrimination Cases Representing the employer
    • May 6, 2022
    ...History Bring a motion in limine to admit evidence of plainti൵’s personal history. Marshall v. Nelson Elec., Unit of Gen. Signal , 766 F.Supp. 1018 (N.D. Okla. 1991) (evidence that plainti൵ was the victim of spousal abuse, in addition to other factors, led trial court to ind plainti൵’s emot......

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