Barrett v. Carlos O'Kelly's Inc et al
ORDER granting 6 Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Plaintiff Joseph Irving Barrett's claim in the Complaint pursuant to Iowa Civil Rights Act is dismissed. Signed by Chief Judge Linda R Reade on 10/2/2013. (pac)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF IOWA
JOSEPH IRVING BARRETT,
CARLOS O’KELLY’S INC., and THE
UNKNOWN DEFENDANT OR
DEFENDANTS OPERATING CARLOS
O’KELLY’S RESTAURANT, located at
1331 Fleming Drive in Waterloo, Iowa,
The matter before the court is Defendants Carlos O’Kelly’s, Inc. (“Carlos
O’Kelly’s”) and The Unknown Defendant or Defendants Operating Carlos O’Kelly’s
Restaurant, located at 1331 Fleming Drive in Waterloo, Iowa’s (collectively,
“Defendants”) “Motion for Partial Summary Judgment” (“Motion”) (docket no. 6), which
Defendants filed on July 3, 2013.
II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On May 23, 2013, Plaintiff Joseph Irving Barrett filed a Petition (“Complaint”)
(docket no. 3) in District Court for Black Hawk County, Iowa, Case No. LACV121804,
alleging that Defendants discriminated against Barrett based on his sexual orientation in
violation of the City Code of Waterloo, the Iowa Civil Rights Act and Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964. On June 19, 2013, Defendants removed the action to this court
on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. Notice of Removal (docket no. 2). On June
26, 2013, Defendants filed their Answer (docket no. 5). On July 3, 2013, Defendants filed
the Motion asking the court to dismiss Barrett’s claim under the Iowa Civil Rights Act
because the statute of limitations for filing such claim lapsed before Barrett filed his claim
in state court on May 23, 2013. The Motion is unresisted.
III. SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION
The court has federal question jurisdiction over Barrett’s Title VII claim against
Defendants, which arises under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (“The
district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”). The court has supplemental
jurisdiction over Barrett’s state-law claims because they are so related to the claim over
which the court has original jurisdiction that they “form part of the same case or
controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution.” See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).
IV. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Summary judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). “A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that it could cause a
reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party; a fact is material if its resolution affects
the outcome of the case.” Amini v. City of Minneapolis, 643 F.3d 1068, 1074 (8th Cir.
2011) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 252 (1986)), cert.
denied, 132 S. Ct. 1144 (2012). “[S]elf-serving allegations and denials are insufficient to
create a genuine issue of material fact.” Anuforo v. Comm’r, 614 F.3d 799, 807 (8th Cir.
“To survive a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must
substantiate [its] allegations with sufficient probative evidence [that] would permit a finding
in [its] favor based on more than mere speculation, conjecture, or fantasy.” Barber v. C1
Truck Driver Training, LLC, 656 F.3d 782, 801 (8th Cir. 2011) (second alteration in
original) (quoting Putman v. Unity Health Sys., 348 F.3d 732, 733-34 (8th Cir. 2003))
(internal quotation marks omitted). The court must view the record in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party and afford it all reasonable inferences. See Schmidt v.
Des Moines Pub. Sch., 655 F.3d 811, 819 (8th Cir. 2011).
V. RELEVANT FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Barrett alleges that employees at Carlos O’Kelly’s, at 1331 Fleming Drive in
Waterloo, Iowa, discriminated against him based on his sexual orientation when they made
derogatory comments concerning his sexual orientation. Barrett allegedly reported these
comments to his supervisor and other employees in management positions, but these
employees did not take any action in relation to Barrett’s complaints. Rather, Barrett
asserts, these managing employees condoned the discriminatory comments and defended
those employees making the comments. As a result of this inaction, Barrett asserts that
he was forced to leave his job.
After Barrett filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (“ICRC”),
the ICRC sent Barrett an Administrative Release on February 20, 2013, which stated that
“action must be commenced within ninety . . . days of the issue date 2/20/2013.”
Administrative Release (docket no. 6-2). In the Complaint, Barrett seeks damages under
disparate treatment, constructive discharge and hostile work environment theories of
liability under the City Code of Waterloo, the Iowa Civil Rights Act and Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964.
At the outset, the court notes that Barrett did not file a Resistance to the Motion.
Therefore, the court may grant the unresisted Motion without notice pursuant to Local
Rule 7(f). See LR 7(f) (“If no timely resistance to a motion is filed, the motion may be
granted without notice.”). Accordingly, the court shall grant the Motion for this reason.
Nevertheless, the court will address the Motion on its merits.
When a federal court exercises supplemental jurisdiction over a state-law claim, the
court should apply the forum state’s substantive law. See Felder v. Casey, 487 U.S. 131,
151 (1988). Generally, courts consider state statutes of limitations to be substantive law.
See Guaranty Trust Co. of New York v. York, 326 U.S. 99, 110 (1945). Thus, the court
shall apply Iowa law to determine whether the applicable statute of limitations has run on
Barrett’s claim pursuant to the Iowa Civil Rights Act.
Under Iowa law, a complainant must commence an action within ninety days after
the ICRC issues the complainant an Administrative Release. See Iowa Code § 216.16
(“An action authorized under this section [of the Iowa Civil Rights Act] is barred unless
commenced within ninety days after the issuance by the commission of a release . . . .”);
see also LeClair v. Wells Fargo Bank Iowa, N.A., 291 F. Supp. 2d 873, 879 (S.D. Iowa
2003) (dismissing an action because it was not filed within ninety days of the ICRC’s
issuance of the Administrative Release); Saemisch v. Ley Motor Co., 387 N.W.2d 357,
359 (Iowa 1986) (noting that an action filed more than ninety days after the ICRC issues
an Administrative Release would be barred if the Administrative Release was issued by
In this case, the ICRC issued the Administrative Release on February 20, 2013. In
order for Barrett’s action to be timely, it would need to have been filed by May 21, 2013.
Barrett, however, did not file the action until May 23, 2013. Accordingly, Barrett’s claim
that Defendants violated the Iowa Civil Rights Act is barred by the statute of limitations
and is dismissed for this additional reason.
In light of the foregoing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:
Defendants’ Motion (docket no. 6) is GRANTED. Plaintiff Joseph Irving Barrett’s
claim in the Complaint pursuant to the Iowa Civil Rights Act is DISMISSED.
DATED this 2nd day of October, 2013.
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