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Brown v. DCK Worldwide LLC

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

January 4, 2017



          Leslie E. Kobayashi United States District Judge.

         On August 10, 2016, Defendants dck Worldwide LLC, dck Guam LLC, and DCK Pacific Guam, LLC (collectively “Defendants”) filed a Motion for Summary Judgment to Dismiss All of Plaintiff's Claims (“Motion”). [Dkt. no. 139.] On August 29, 2016, pro se Plaintiff Clinton C. St. Classis Brown, II (“Plaintiff”) filed a memorandum in opposition, and on October 17, 2016, Defendants filed a reply. [Dkt. nos. 147, 151.] The Court finds this matter suitable for disposition without a hearing pursuant to Rule 7.2(d) of the Local Rules of Practice of the United States District Court for the District of Hawai`i (“Local Rules”). After careful consideration of the Motion, supporting and opposing memoranda, and the relevant legal authority, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED for the reasons set forth below.


         The background of this matter is well known the parties, and the Court only repeats those facts that are relevant to the instant Motion. Plaintiff was employed by Defendants from February 2013 to April 2013 as a Construction Quality Control Manager on a hospital project in Dededo, Guam (“Project”). [First Amended Complaint, filed 5/6/15 (dkt. no. 37), at ¶¶ 4, 23.] He states that, a few weeks into his job, a representative of the hospital asked Plaintiff to show him around the Project. During the tour, Plaintiff, at the representative's request, pointed out problems with the Project. [Id. at ¶ 7.] Plaintiff alleges that, after the tour, Defendants began to treat him differently. This treatment included, inter alia: a reprimand for calling in sick; verbal abuse for calling in sick; and being forced to work longer hours than other employees. [Id. at ¶¶ 9-12.] Plaintiff further alleges that he was subjected to racial slurs and other unfair treatment based on his race. [Id. at ¶¶ 15-21, 31-37.] On April 14, 2013, Plaintiff was terminated from his employment with Defendants, and he states that Defendants went out of their way to ensure that he did not find another job in the construction industry in either Guam or Hawai`i. [Id. at ¶¶ 23, 25.]

         The First Amended Complaint states claims for: race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (“Count I”); [id. at ¶ 39;] retaliation in violation of Title VII (“Count II”); [id. at ¶¶ 40-42;] violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985 (“Count III”); [id. at ¶¶ 43-44;] race discrimination and retaliation in violation of Haw. Rev. Stat. Chapter 378 (“Count IV”); [id. at ¶¶ 45-46;] and intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”) and/or negligent infliction of emotional distress (“NIED, ” and collectively “Count V”) [id. at ¶¶ 47-50].

         On February 3, 2016, Defendants filed a Motion for an Order Prohibiting Plaintiff Clinton St. Classis Brown II's Direct Contact and Harassment of Witnesses, Employees, and Agents of Defendants (“Contact Motion”). [Dkt. no. 95.] On February 12, 2016, Defendants filed a Motion for Protective Order Concerning Plaintiffs Requests for Production/Discovery of Financial Information of Defendants, Its Officers, Employees and/or Agents (“Motion for Protective Order”).[1] [Dkt. no. 100.] On February 18, 2016, Defendants filed a Motion for Sanctions for Plaintiff's Failure to Provide Discovery (“Motion for Sanctions”).[2] [Dkt. no. 104.] All three motions were heard by the magistrate judge on April 13, 2016. At the hearing, the magistrate judge orally: granted the Contact Motion, without attorneys' fees and costs; granted the Motion for Protective Order, without attorneys' fees and costs; and granted in part and denied in part the Motion for Sanctions, granting all but one of the sanctions requested by Defendants. [Minutes, filed 4/13/16 (dkt. no. 116), at 1-2.] On April 26, 2016, the magistrate judge filed written orders in accordance with his oral rulings. See dkt. nos. 121-23. On April 19, 2016, Plaintiff appealed the magistrate judge's rulings on the motions to this Court, [dkt. no. 118, ] and on June 20, 2016, this Court issued an amended order affirming the magistrate judge's rulings (“6/20/16 Order”) [dkt. no. 132].


         Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, and the Court must construe his filings liberally. See, e.g., Pregana v. CitiMortgage, Inc., Civil No. 14-00226 DKW-KSC, 2015 WL 1966671, at *2 (D. Hawai`i Apr. 30, 2015) (“The Court liberally construes the [plaintiffs'] filings because they are proceeding pro se.” (citing Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1137 (9th Cir. 1987)). The Court notes, however, that Plaintiff must still comply with relevant rules. See Local Rule LR83.13 (“Pro se litigants shall abide by all local, federal, and other applicable rules and/or statutes.”).

         I. Rules Governing Summary Judgment Motions

         Local Rule 56.1 states, in relevant part:

(a) Motion Requirements. A motion for summary judgment shall be accompanied by a supporting memorandum and a separate concise statement detailing each material fact as to which the moving party contends that there are no genuine issues to be tried that are essential for the court's determination of the summary judgment motion (not the entire case). The motion shall be heard on the schedule set forth in LR7.2, as permitted by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56.
(b) Opposition Requirements. Any party who opposes the motion shall file and serve with his or her opposing papers a separate document containing a single concise statement that admits or disputes the facts set forth in the moving party's concise statement, as well as sets forth all material facts as to which it is contended there exists a genuine issue necessary to be litigated.
(g) Admission of Material Facts. For purposes of a motion for summary judgment, material facts set forth in the moving party's concise statement will be deemed admitted unless controverted by a separate concise statement of the opposing party.

         Defendants filed their Concise Statement of Facts (“Defendants' CSOF”) on August 10, 2016. [Dkt. no. 140.] On August 17, 2016, Plaintiff filed a document titled “Addendum to Ex-Parte Motion” (“8/17/16 Addendum”). [Dkt. no. 144.] In an Entering Order filed the same day (“8/17/16 EO”), [dkt. no. 146, ] the Court stated that the 8/17/16 Addendum appeared to be a response to the Motion, but that it complied with neither Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 nor Local Rule 56.1. [8/17/16 EO at 2.] Because the 8/17/16 Addendum was submitted before the deadline for Plaintiff's opposition, the Court informed Plaintiff that he could resubmit his opposition and reminded him that it had to comply with all relevant Federal and Local Rules. [Id.] In spite of this, Plaintiff did not submit a concise statement.[3] The Court therefore DEEMS the Defendants' material facts set forth in Defendants' CSOF ADMITTED.

         II. Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. - Count I

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants treated him “in an oppressively discriminatory manner, creating a ‘hostile work environment.'” [First Amended Complaint at ¶ 39.] This district court has stated:

A plaintiff may establish disparate treatment in violation of . . . Title VII through direct evidence or, alternatively, through the familiar McDonnell Douglas burden shifting framework. See Surrell v. California Water Serv. Co., 518 F.3d 1097, 1105 (9th Cir. 2008) (discussing standard with respect to Title VII and [42 U.S.C.] § 1981 claims). . . .
The framework set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802 (1973), begins by requiring a plaintiff to establish a prima facie case of discrimination. The degree of proof required to establish a prima facie case for summary judgment is minimal. See Coghlan v. Am. Seafoods Co., 413 F.3d 1090, 1094 (9th Cir. 2005). A prima facie case of disparate treatment requires a plaintiff to establish that: (1) the plaintiff is a member of a protected class; (2) the plaintiff was qualified for the position in issue; (3) the plaintiff suffered an adverse employment decision; and (4) one or more employees outside the protected class with comparable qualifications and work records did not suffer similar adverse employment decisions. See, e.g., White v. Pac. Media Grp., Inc., 322 F.Supp.2d 1101, 1110 (D. Haw. 2004).
A plaintiff must demonstrate that his or her situation is similar in all material respects to that of employees who received more favorable treatment. See Moran v. Selig, 447 F.3d 748, 755 (9th Cir. 2006). However, “a plaintiff is not obligated to show disparate treatment of an identically situated employee.” McGuinness v. Lincoln Hall, 263 F.3d 49, 54 (2d Cir. 2001) (cited approvingly in Selig). Instead, “individuals are similarly situated when they have similar jobs and display similar conduct.” Hawn v. Exec. Jet Mgmt. Inc., 615 F.3d 1151, 1160 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Vasquez v. Cnty. of Los Angeles, 349 F.3d 634, 641 (9th Cir. 2003) (finding employee not similarly situated if he “did not engage in problematic conduct of comparable seriousness” to plaintiff's conduct)).
Under the McDonnell Douglas framework, once a plaintiff succeeds in presenting a prima facie case, the burden then shifts to the defendant to articulate a “legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason” for its employment decision. Noyes v. Kelly Servs., 488 F.3d 1163, 1168 (9th Cir. 2007).
“Should the defendant carry its burden, the burden then shifts back to the plaintiff to raise a triable issue of fact that the defendant's proffered reason was a pretext ...

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