Slabisak, M.D. v. The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER. The Court DENIES Good Shepherd and UTHSCT's Motions for Summary Judgment (Dkt. #79; Dkt. #83). The Court DENIES Plaintiff's objections to and motions to strike Defendants' summary-judgment evidence as MOOT (Dkt. #88; Dkt. #90). Signed by District Judge Amos L. Mazzant, III on 10/2/2018. (daj, )
United States District Court
EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
SARA SLABISAK, M.D.
THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS HEALTH
SCIENCE CENTER AT TYLER and
CHRISTUS GOOD SHEPHERD MEDICAL
Civil Action No. 4:17-CV-597
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Pending before the Court is Defendant CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Medical Center’s
(“Good Shepherd”) Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. #79) and Defendant University of
Texas Health Science Center at Tyler’s (“UTHSCT”) Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. #83).
After considering the motions and relevant pleadings, the Court finds Defendants’ motions for
summary judgment should be denied.
On August 25, 2017, Plaintiff Sara Slabisak, M.D. filed this suit (Dkt. #1). Plaintiff’s
remaining claims include gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (Dkt. #37 at pp. 6–8; Dkt. #58). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that
from on or about July 1, 2015, through January 13, 2016, she worked as a medical resident at
UTHSCT and Good Shepherd in Longview, Texas (Dkt. #37 at p. 1). During her time as a
resident, Plaintiff claims she experienced continuous verbal, physical, and sexual harassment by
Dr. Mohammad Makkouk, her supervising resident (Dkt. #37 at p. 3). During her six-month
evaluation, Plaintiff reported the situation to the program director Dr. Ifeanyi E. Elueze (Dkt. #37
at p. 4). Additionally, Plaintiff met with David Conley—legal compliance officer and deputy
coordinator in the human resources department at UTHSCT—and Donald Henry—the deputy
coordinator (Dkt. #37 at p. 4). Plaintiff further detailed Dr. Makkouk’s alleged behavior in a
letter she provided at the request of the human resources department (Dkt. #37 at p. 4). On or
about January 13, 2016, Dr. Elueze suspended Plaintiff indefinitely from the residency program
(Dkt. #37 at p. 4).
On June 14, 2018, Good Shepherd filed its motion for summary judgment (Dkt. #79).
Plaintiff requested two extensions of time to file her response (Dkt. #85; Dkt. #89). Before the
Court ruled on Plaintiff’s motions for extension of time, Plaintiff filed her response on July 24,
2018 (Dkt. # 95). Good Shepherd filed its reply on July 31, 2018 (Dkt. #103).
Additionally, on July 16, 2018, Plaintiff filed her Objections to and Motion to Strike
Good Shepherd’s Summary Judgment Evidence (Dkt. #90). Plaintiff objects to certain portions
of Ken Cunningham and Tammy Mitchell’s declarations as well as Good Shepherd’s exhibits 2–
7 and 9–32 (Dkt. #90 at pp. 2–6). Good Shepherd filed a response to Plaintiff’s Objections to
and Motion to Strike on July 30, 2018 (Dkt. #102).
On June 15, 2018, UTHSCT filed its motion for summary judgment (Dkt. #83). Plaintiff
requested two extensions of time to file her response (Dkt. #86; Dkt. #87). Before the Court
ruled on Plaintiff’s motions for extension of time, Plaintiff filed her response on July 23, 2018
(Dkt. #93). UTHSCT filed its reply on July 30, 2018 (Dkt. #100).
Further, on July 16, 2018, Plaintiff filed her Objections to and Motion to Strike
UTHSCT’s Summary Judgment Evidence (Dkt. #88). Plaintiff objects to certain portions of
Jeffrey Levin’s declaration, UTHSCT’s exhibits “Tabs 3–7,” and objects to “all summary
judgment evidence presented by UTHSC[T] as it is hearsay and not authenticated.” (Dkt. #88 at
pp. 1–5). UTHSCT filed a response to Plaintiff’s Objections and Motion to Strike on July 30,
2018 (Dkt. #101).
The purpose of summary judgment is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported
claims or defenses. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323–24 (1986). Summary judgment
is proper under Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “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 about a material fact is genuine when “the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Substantive law identifies which
facts are material. Id. The trial court “must resolve all reasonable doubts in favor of the party
opposing the motion for summary judgment.” Casey Enters., Inc. v. Am. Hardware Mut. Ins.
Co., 655 F.2d 598, 602 (5th Cir. 1981).
The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of informing the court of its
motion and identifying “depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or
declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions,
interrogatory answers, or other materials” that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c)(1)(A); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. If the movant bears the
burden of proof on a claim or defense for which it is moving for summary judgment, it must
come forward with evidence that establishes “beyond peradventure all of the essential elements
of the claim or defense.” Fontenot v. Upjohn Co., 780 F.2d 1190, 1194 (5th Cir. 1986). Where
the nonmovant bears the burden of proof, the movant may discharge the burden by showing that
there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmovant’s case. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325; Byers
v. Dall. Morning News, Inc., 209 F.3d 419, 424 (5th Cir. 2000). Once the movant has carried its
burden, the nonmovant must “respond to the motion for summary judgment by setting forth
particular facts indicating there is a genuine issue for trial.” Byers, 209 F.3d at 424 (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248–49). A nonmovant must present affirmative evidence to defeat a
properly supported motion for summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 257. Mere denials of
material facts, unsworn allegations, or arguments and assertions in briefs or legal memoranda
will not suffice to carry this burden. Rather, the Court requires “significant probative evidence”
from the nonmovant to dismiss a request for summary judgment. In re Mun. Bond Reporting
Antitrust Litig., 672 F.2d 436, 440 (5th Cir. 1982) (quoting Ferguson v. Nat’l Broad. Co., 584
F.2d 111, 114 (5th Cir. 1978)). The Court must consider all of the evidence but “refrain from
making any credibility determinations or weighing the evidence.” Turner v. Baylor Richardson
Med. Ctr., 476 F.3d 337, 343 (5th Cir. 2007).
Good Shepherd moves for summary judgment arguing that it was not Plaintiff’s
employer, and there is no genuine issue of material fact as to Plaintiff’s claims for sexual
harassment, retaliation, and gender discrimination (Dkt. #79 at pp. 7–8, 19–29). UTHSCT
moves for summary judgment claiming there is no genuine issue of material fact as to Plaintiff’s
claims for sexual harassment and retaliation (Dkt. #83 at pp. 11–29). After a careful review of
the record and the arguments presented, the Court is not convinced that Good Shepherd or
UTHSCT have met their respective burdens of demonstrating that there is no genuine issue of
material fact on Plaintiff’s claims.1
Accordingly, the Court DENIES Good Shepherd and
UTHSCT’s Motions for Summary Judgment (Dkt. #79; Dkt. #83).
1. The ultimate determination of whether Good Shepherd was Plaintiff’s employer is a question of law. E.E.O.C. v.
Fawn Vendors, Inc., 965 F. Supp. 909, 911 n.2 (S.D. Tex. 1996) (citing Brock v. Mr. W. Fireworks, Inc., 814 F.2d
Because the Court denies Defendants’ motions for summary judgment, the Court finds it
. unnecessary to strike any of Defendants’ summary judgment evidence. As such, the Court
DENIES Plaintiff’s objections to and motions to strike Defendants’ summary-judgment
evidence as MOOT (Dkt. #88; Dkt. #90).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
SIGNED this 2nd day of October, 2018.
AMOS L. MAZZANT
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
1042, 1043–45 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 924 (1987)). However, this legal question is dependent upon
factual determinations as to each factor of the “economic realities/common law control test.” Id. After a review of
the motions, the Court finds genuine issues of material fact underlying the factors of the economic realities/common
law control test as applied to Plaintiff and Good Shepherd’s employment relationship. Therefore, the Court cannot
reach a legal conclusion as to Good Shepherd’s employer status without a resolution of these issues. Palmer v.
Chamberlin, 191 F.2d 532, 540 (5th Cir. 1951) (“Where, as in this case, the decision of a question of law by the
Court depends upon an inquiry into the surrounding facts and circumstances, the Court should refuse to grant a
motion for a summary judgment until the facts and circumstances have been sufficiently developed to enable the
Court to be reasonably certain that it is making a correct determination of the question of law.”); 10A Charles Allen
Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2725 (4th ed. 2018) (“Before the court can apply the
law, it must have an adequate factual basis for doing so.”).
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