Seils v. Rochester City School Dist., No. 98-CV-6197L.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
Writing for the CourtLarimer
Citation192 F.Supp.2d 100
PartiesRichard W. SEILS, Individually and on Behalf of All Other Persons Similarly Situated, Lois Vreeland, Individually and on Behalf of All other Persons Similarly Situated, Plaintiffs, v. ROCHESTER CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date23 January 2002
Docket NumberNo. 98-CV-6197L.
192 F.Supp.2d 100
Richard W. SEILS, Individually and on Behalf of All Other Persons Similarly Situated, Lois Vreeland, Individually and on Behalf of All other Persons Similarly Situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
ROCHESTER CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., Defendants.
No. 98-CV-6197L.
United States District Court, W.D. New York.
January 23, 2002.

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

Stephanie L. Adler, Harter, Secrest and Emery LLP, Rochester, NY, Maureen T. Alston, Harter, Secrest and Emery LLP, Rochester, NY, for defendants.

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

DECISION AND ORDER

LARIMER, Chief Judge.


I. INTRODUCTION

The facts of this case are set forth in my prior decisions1, entered March 15, 2001 (199 F.R.D. 506 (W.D.N.Y.2001)) and December 12, 2000 (Dkt.# 139), familiarity with which is assumed, and will not be repeated at length here. Briefly, Richard Seils ("Seils") and Lois Vreeland ("Vreeland") (collectively "plaintiffs"), who have been teachers in defendant Rochester City School District ("RCSD") and members of former defendant Rochester Teachers' Association ("RTA"), commenced this action against twenty-eight defendants. They allege, in fifteen 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"), and the N.Y. Human Rights Law ("HRL").

The amended complaint, containing 138 separate paragraphs covering 35 pages, alleges claims on behalf of a purported class for violations of Title VII, § 1983 and the HRL. In addition, both Seils and Vreeland set forth separate individual claims of a similar nature. The case has not been certified as a class action. Twenty-seven of the named defendants are directly related to RCSD ("the RCSD defendants"). They include past or present RCSD employees and past or present members of its board.

The tortured procedural history of this case conjures up the image of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, so vividly portrayed by Charles Dickens in Bleak House.2 Because a full recitation of the history of this case might task even devotees of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, the Court will recount only that which is necessary for its present purpose: deciding the motions presently before it,

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namely, RCSD's separate motions to dismiss, or, in the alternative, for summary judgment with respect to each plaintiff, and plaintiffs' cross-motions to certify this action as a class action, to modify or amend this Court's prior decisions, orders, and judgments, for partial summary judgment, injunctive relief, to amend the complaint, and for various forms of discovery-related relief.

Plaintiffs have made the Court's review more difficult by the voluminous and often vague and repetitive papers submitted in response to defendants' motion or in support of plaintiffs' various cross-motions. The volume and prolixity is seemingly "designed to obscure rather than to illumine the events giving rise to this lawsuit." See Pross v. Katz, 784 F.2d 455, 456 (2d Cir. 1986). Indeed, on the instant motions alone, plaintiffs have made 34 separate filings that when stacked together creates a pile eight inches thick. Included among them, for example is a 149 paragraph affidavit of 46 pages (not including exhibits) (Dkt.# 189), two 125 paragraph affirmations of 38 pages each (not including exhibits) (Dkt. # s 190, 199), two 61 paragraph reply affirmations of 27 pages each (not including exhibits) (Dkt. # s 182, 183), 19 additional affidavits and affirmations, memoranda of law with a combined total of 90 pages (Dkt. # s 178, 179, 187, 211), and two statements of material facts (which Local Rule 56 of the rules of this Court require to be "short and concise") that are 113 paragraphs each (not including exhibits) (Dkt. # s 188, 197).

In addition, plaintiffs' counsel frequently "incorporated by reference" virtually every document filed in this case and in several cases which she considers "related" of equally voluminous nature. (See Dkt. # s 186, 196). Together, all of these papers would be measured by 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 in this case for her failure to specify the relevance of materials on which she has sought to rely. See Court's letter to plaintiffs' counsel, dated February 15, 2000. While, as a general proposition, it is important to submit the necessary evidence, in this case, much of what has been submitted is either redundant, irrelevant, speculative, conclusory, or all of the above.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

A. Richard Seils

Seils, a fifty-nine year-old Caucasian male, had been employed by RCSD as a teacher since 1968; he retired in 1998. In large part, Seils' complaint stems from an

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incident in December 1995 where Seils was accused of striking a student while employed as a technology teacher at Frederick Douglass Middle School ("Douglass"). Seils was disciplined for that action. He alleges in this complaint that "defendants"3 punished him and other RCSD employees "based on race and/or age and/or sex and/or national origin and/or disability," and that older4 Caucasian employees were more severely punished than other employees (Complaint, ¶ 52).

B. Lois Vreeland

Vreeland has been a special education teacher at Franklin High School ("Franklin") since 1988. In January 1996, Vreeland obtained an order of protection from the Rochester City Court, pursuant to section 530.13 of the New York Criminal Procedure Law, against Elizabeth Pardner, a parent of one of Vreeland's students. Pardner had previously threatened Vreeland. The order prohibited Pardner from having any contact with Vreeland. Nevertheless, in violation of the order, Pardner gained entry into Franklin, and an encounter between the two women ensued.

In February 1996, Vreeland filed a grievance alleging that RCSD violated section 25 of the RTA-RCSD collective bargaining agreement because the building administrator "allowed subject of court order of protection into [the school] building...." The parties subsequently agreed that Franklin's building administrator would be advised to be more attentive to any orders of protection involving Vreeland. Based upon a number of factors, including (a) RCSD's assurance that orders of protection would be more closely monitored in the future, (b) the order of protection involving Vreeland was to expire by its own terms on July 26, 1996, and (c) the student whose parent was involved would no longer be attending Franklin after June 1996, the Grievance Committee decided, after consultation with Vreeland, to close the grievance.

Vreeland also alleges a laundry list of claims she considers "harassment" by students and parents or guardians of students that she experienced while at Franklin. Although it is unclear, Vreeland appears to claim that she was harassed by students and their parents because she is Caucasian, or female, or older, or disabled, or married to an African-American male, or the mother of mixed-race children.

III. DISCUSSION

RCSD now moves for summary judgment5 against both Seils and Vreeland on all causes of action on several grounds. For the reasons that follow, the motions are granted and the amended complaint is dismissed.6

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A. Summary Judgment—General Standards In Discrimination Cases

The standard for deciding summary judgment motions is well established. Rule 56(c) provides that a motion for summary judgment shall be granted if the pleadings and supplemental evidentiary materials "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(c). Under the rule, the burden is on the moving party to inform the Court of the basis for its motion and to demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). After the moving party has carried its burden, the non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). "[T]he non-moving party must come forward with `specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348 (quoting FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e)).

"Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no `genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348. When perusing the record to determine whether a rational fact-finder could find for the non-moving party,...

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55 practice notes
  • United States v. E. River Hous. Corp., 13 Civ. 8650 (ER)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • March 2, 2015
    ...Inc., 611 F. Supp. 2d 918, 920 (N.D. Iowa 2009) (considering a summary judgment motion); Seils v. Rochester City Sch. Dist., 192 F. Supp. 2d 100, 118 (W.D.N.Y. 2002) aff'd, 99 F. App'x 350 (2d Cir. 2004) (stating that plaintiffs had failed to produce "sufficient, admissible, relevant eviden......
  • Bliss v. Rochester City School Dist., Nos. 00-CV-6516L, 00-CV-6310L, 01-CV-6176L.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • March 28, 2002
    ...v. RCSD. As a result, the analysis herein is similar to that adopted in my prior decisions in Seils. See prior decisions in Seils: 192 F.Supp.2d 100 (W.D.N.Y. 2002); 199 F.R.D. 506 (W.D.N.Y.2001); and Decision and Order, entered December 12, 2000 (Dkt.# 2. The complaints in these actions mi......
  • Russell v. County of Nassau, Civil Action No. 07-1686 (DRH)(AKT).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • February 18, 2010
    ...an employer's personnel decisions, even if foolish, so long as they are non-discriminatory. See Seils v. Rochester City Sch. Dist., 192 F.Supp.2d 100, 111 (W.D.N.Y.2002) (citing, inter alia, Meiri v. Dacon, 759 F.2d 989, 995 (2d Cir.1985)), aff'd, 99 Fed.Appx. 350 (2d Cir.2004) (Summary Ord......
  • Greene v. Brentwood Union Free Sch. Dist., No. 11–CV–4308 (SJF)(ARL).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • August 13, 2013
    ...an employer's personnel decisions, even if foolish, so long as they are non-discriminatory. See Seils v. Rochester City Sch. Dist., 192 F.Supp.2d 100, 111 (W.D.N.Y.2002) (citing, inter alia, Meiri, 759 F.2d 989, 995 (2d Cir.1985)). Federal courts do not have a “roving commission to review b......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
55 cases
  • United States v. E. River Hous. Corp., 13 Civ. 8650 (ER)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • March 2, 2015
    ...Inc., 611 F. Supp. 2d 918, 920 (N.D. Iowa 2009) (considering a summary judgment motion); Seils v. Rochester City Sch. Dist., 192 F. Supp. 2d 100, 118 (W.D.N.Y. 2002) aff'd, 99 F. App'x 350 (2d Cir. 2004) (stating that plaintiffs had failed to produce "sufficient, admissible, relevant eviden......
  • Bliss v. Rochester City School Dist., Nos. 00-CV-6516L, 00-CV-6310L, 01-CV-6176L.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • March 28, 2002
    ...v. RCSD. As a result, the analysis herein is similar to that adopted in my prior decisions in Seils. See prior decisions in Seils: 192 F.Supp.2d 100 (W.D.N.Y. 2002); 199 F.R.D. 506 (W.D.N.Y.2001); and Decision and Order, entered December 12, 2000 (Dkt.# 2. The complaints in these actions mi......
  • Russell v. County of Nassau, Civil Action No. 07-1686 (DRH)(AKT).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • February 18, 2010
    ...an employer's personnel decisions, even if foolish, so long as they are non-discriminatory. See Seils v. Rochester City Sch. Dist., 192 F.Supp.2d 100, 111 (W.D.N.Y.2002) (citing, inter alia, Meiri v. Dacon, 759 F.2d 989, 995 (2d Cir.1985)), aff'd, 99 Fed.Appx. 350 (2d Cir.2004) (Summary Ord......
  • Greene v. Brentwood Union Free Sch. Dist., No. 11–CV–4308 (SJF)(ARL).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • August 13, 2013
    ...an employer's personnel decisions, even if foolish, so long as they are non-discriminatory. See Seils v. Rochester City Sch. Dist., 192 F.Supp.2d 100, 111 (W.D.N.Y.2002) (citing, inter alia, Meiri, 759 F.2d 989, 995 (2d Cir.1985)). Federal courts do not have a “roving commission to review b......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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