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Peterson v. SCIS Air Security Corp.

United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division

July 6, 2018

LISA C. PETERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
SCIS AIR SECURITY CORP., LSG SKY CHEFS, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          DAVID SAM SENIOR JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Lisa C. Peterson is a former employee of Defendant SCIS Air Security Corporation (“SCIS”) where she worked as a Security Ramp Coordinator. SCIS provides security services for Defendant LSG Sky Chefs, Inc. (“Sky Chefs”), who in turn provides in-flight meals for various airlines. Both Defendants operate out of Salt Lake International Airport.

         Ms. Peterson's alleges that she was subjected to incidents of sexual harassment from 2012 through the end of her employment in October 2016, primarily by employees of Sky Chefs. She asserts that SCIS and Sky Chefs did not adequately address the harassment when it was brought to their attention, and that SCIS retaliated against her. In her Supplemental Amended Complaint[1] (‘SAC”) Ms. Peterson claims hostile work environment sex discrimination, retaliation, and constructive discharge under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against SCIS. And against Sky Chefs she claims negligent employment. She seeks “actual damages including lost income, future lost income, benefits, and expenses, together with pre-judgment interest thereon, in an amount to be proven at trial”, as well as general and compensatory damages of $600, 000 total ($300, 000 against each defendant) along with punitive damages in an amount to be proven at trial, and reasonable attorney's fees and costs. ECF No. 38 at p. 18 Sky Chefs move for summary judgment on the SAC. Defendant SCIS joins in the motion. They urge that Ms. Peterson is judicially estopped from pursuing claims about which she has provided information to a bankruptcy court that is inconsistent with her claims in her lawsuit pending before this Court

         II. SUMMARY JUDGEMENT STANDARD

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment is proper only when the pleadings, affidavits, depositions or admissions establish there is no genuine issue regarding any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The burden of establishing the nonexistence of a genuine issue of material fact is on the moving party.[2] E.g., Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986). This burden has two distinct components: an initial burden of production on the moving party, which burden when satisfied shifts to the nonmoving party, and an ultimate burden of persuasion, which always remains on the moving party. See 10A C. Wright, A. Miller & M. Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2727 (2d ed. 1983).

         The central inquiry is "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Id. If the nonmoving party cannot muster sufficient evidence to make out a triable issue of fact on his claim, a trial would be useless and the moving party is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. Celotex, 477 U.S. 242.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Facts[3]

         1. claims against defendants

         Ms. Peterson was hired by SCIS on March 13, 2012. She alleges that soon thereafter she was sexually harassed by Sky Chefs' employees, and that the harassment continued through 2015. She contends that her claims of harassment were not appropriately handled by either SCIS or Sky Chefs. Ms. Peterson filed a charge of discrimination with the Utah Anti-Discrimination and labor Division and the EEOC on August 26. 2015. And on August 1, 2016, she filed her original complaint in this case. Ms. Peterson's employment ended October 4, 2016.

         On March 9, 2017, pursuant to Sky Chefs' motion to dismiss, the claims against it were dismissed in full. All but Ms. Peterson's negligent employment claim were dismissed with prejudice. Ms. Peterson re-pled that negligent employment claim against Sky Chefs in the SAC. The SAC also includes claims against Defendant SCIS for hostile work environment, retaliation, and constructive discharge under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

         As noted, Ms. Peterson seeks “actual damages related to lost income, future lost income, benefits and expenses, together with pre-judgment interest thereon, in an amount to be proven at trial”, as well as general and compensatory damages of $600, 000 total ($300, 000 against each defendant) along with punitive damages in an amount to be proven at trial, and reasonable attorney's fees and costs. ECF No. 38 at p. 18

         2. ...


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