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Wilson v. Port City Air Inc.

United States District Court, District of New Hampshire

June 4, 2014

George Wilson
v.
Port City Air, Inc. Opinion Opinion No. 2014 DNH 125

Matthew T. Broadhead, Esq.

Jacob John Brian Marvelley, Esq.

Paul McEachern, Esq.

ORDER

Landya McCafferty United States District Judge

George Wilson is African American. For approximately four years, until his discharge in 2012, he worked for Port City Air, Inc. (“Port City”). Wilson has sued Port City, asserting claims for: (1) racial discrimination and retaliation, under New Hampshire’s Law Against Discrimination, N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. (“RSA”) ch. 354-A (Counts I-V); (2) wrongful discharge (Count VI); and (3) racial discrimination and retaliation, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Counts VII-XI). Before the court are: (1) Port City’s motion to strike certain evidence in the summary-judgment record; and (2) Port City’s motion for summary judgment. Wilson objects to both motions. The court heard oral argument on May 9, 2014. For the following reasons, defendant’s motions are both denied.

Motion to Strike

In the context of summary judgment, motions to strike typically involve both an unnecessary litigation expense and a waste of judicial resources. Either a memorandum in support of an objection to summary judgment or a reply brief is an appropriate and effective vehicle for challenging the admissibility of evidence on which one side or the other relies at summary judgment.

Port City’s motion to strike, which challenges only the admissibility of certain evidence, is denied for a variety of reasons: (1) some of its analysis is erroneous; (2) much of the evidence it challenges concerns facts that are not material, see Daniels v. Agin, 736 F.3d 70, 78 (1st Cir. 2013) (citing SEC v. Ficken, 546 F.3d 45, 51 (1st Cir. 2008)) (“A fact is material if it could affect the outcome of the suit under governing law.”); and (3) little of the challenged evidence actually figures into the court’s resolution of the pending summary-judgment motion. To the extent that Port City raises any valid concerns regarding the admissibility of evidence, the court has taken those concerns into account in the balance of this order. While the motion to strike is denied, it is denied without prejudice to challenging the admissibility of the evidence discussed therein at trial.

Summary-Judgment Standard

“Summary judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Ponte v. Steelcase Inc., 741 F.3d 310, 319 (1st Cir. 2014) (quoting Cortés–Rivera v. Dept. of Corr., 626 F.3d 21, 26 (1st Cir. 2010)); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must “view[] the entire record ‘in the light most hospitable to the party opposing summary judgment, indulging all reasonable inferences in that party’s favor.’” Winslow v. Aroostook Cty., 736 F.3d 23, 29 (1st Cir. 2013) (quoting Suarez v. Pueblo Int’l, Inc., 229 F.3d 49, 53 (1st Cir. 2000)).

“The nonmovant may defeat a summary judgment motion by demonstrating, through submissions of evidentiary quality, that a trialworthy issue persists.” Sánchez-Rodríguez v. AT&T Mobility P.R., Inc., 673 F.3d 1, 9 (1st Cir. 2012) (quoting Iverson v. City of Boston, 452 F.3d 94, 98 (1st Cir. 2006)). Thus, “the party seeking to avoid summary judgment must be able to point to specific, competent evidence to support his [or her] claim.” Sánchez-Rodríguez, 673 F.3d at 9 (quoting Soto-Ocasio v. Fed. Ex. Corp., 150 F.3d 14, 18 (1st Cir. 1998)) (internal quotation marks omitted).

Discussion

In the discussion that follows, the court takes Wilson’s claims somewhat out of order and considers together the pairs of federal and state claims that are based upon the same conduct and rely upon the same legal theory, “[b]ecause the New Hampshire Supreme Court relies on Title VII cases to analyze claims under RSA 354-A, ” Hubbard v. Tyco Integ. Cable Sys., Inc., F.Supp.2d,, 2013 WL 6234623, at *8 (D.N.H. 2013) (quoting Hudson v. Dr. ...


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