Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Zimmerman v. University of Utah

United States District Court, D. Utah

July 17, 2018

JUDITH PINBOROUGH ZIMMERMAN, Ph.D., Plaintiff,
v.
THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH and WILLIAM McMAHON, PH.D., in his official and individual capacities, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          Jill N. Parrish United States District Court Judge.

         Before the court is a Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 121), filed by defendants University of Utah and William McMahon on April 26, 2018. For the reasons below, that motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         When the instant motion was filed, plaintiff Judith Zimmerman's operative complaint identified six causes of action: (1) violation of the Utah Protection of Public Employees Act (“UPPEA”) against the University; (2) deprivation of Dr. Zimmerman's liberty interest in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the University and Dr. McMahon; (3) deprivation of Dr. Zimmerman's liberty interest in violation of the Utah Constitution against the University; (4) deprivation of Dr. Zimmerman's right to free speech in violation of the Utah Constitution against the University; (5) violation of the Rehabilitation Act (“Rehab Act”) against the University; (6) and discrimination on the basis of religion in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against the University. The defendant's motion urges the court to grant summary judgment on each of Dr. Zimmerman's claims.

         The day after the defendants filed their motion, Dr. Zimmerman filed a Motion to Strike Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 124). The court granted that motion in part and struck portions of the instant motion. See ECF No. 136. However, the court required Dr. Zimmerman to respond to the following issues: (1) whether the University and Dr. McMahon in his official capacity are persons for purposes of § 1983; (2) whether the University is immune under the Eleventh Amendment from claims under the Utah Constitution and the UPPEA; (3) whether Dr. Zimmerman can sustain her Rehab Act claim; (4) whether compensatory and punitive damages are available under the Rehab Act; and (5) whether Dr. Zimmerman filed a timely undertaking. Id. at 11.

         Two days later, the parties filed a notice with the court indicating that the defendants were waiving Eleventh-Amendment immunity with respect to the claims arising under the Utah Constitution and under the UPPEA. ECF No. 137 at 2. The notice also indicated that the defendants withdrew their argument that Dr. Zimmerman failed to file an undertaking. Id. Then, in Dr. Zimmerman's response, Dr. Zimmerman consented to dismissal of her Rehab Act claim and conceded that the University is not a person subject to liability under § 1983. ECF No. 140 at 2.

         Consequently, the only issue left for the court to decide on the instant motion is whether Dr. McMahon is subject to liability in his official capacity under § 1983.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate when “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). The movant bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the movant has met this burden, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to “set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). To do this, the nonmoving 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 (1986).

         When the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue, that party must go “beyond the pleadings” and “designate specific facts” so as to “make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an essential element to that party's case.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. “The plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of judgment . . . against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Id. Thus, summary judgment is not a “disfavored procedural shortcut” but rather “an integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole” that is designed “to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action.” Id. at 327.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Dr. Zimmerman's second cause of action alleges deprivation of her liberty interest in violation of § 1983. That statute provides, in relevant part:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and the laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress . . . .

42 U.S.C. § 1983. However, a suit against Dr. McMahon in his official capacity is not a suit against Dr. McMahon personally; rather, it is a suit against his office. See Brandon v. Holt, 469 U.S. 464, 471 (1985). Consequently, the defendants argue that a suit against Dr. McMahon in his official capacity is ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.