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Ngrime v. Mosaic

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

October 7, 2014

MICHAEL NGRIME, Plaintiff,
v.
MOSAIC, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

LYLE E. STROM, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the motion (Filing No. 41) of defendant Mosaic for summary judgment against plaintiff Michael Ngrime ("Ngrime") filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Upon reviewing the motion, briefs, evidence, and relevant law, the Court finds as follows.

I. BACKGROUND

Mosaic is a non-profit, faith-based entity which serves people with intellectual disabilities (Filing No. 42, at 2, ¶ 1). Ngrime is a black, West African male from the nation of Cameroon ( Id. at ¶ 2). Mosaic employed Ngrime as a Direct Support Associate ("DSA"), a position responsible for training and assisting Mosaic's clients in daily living activities ( Id. at 3, ¶ 5). Ngrime worked for Mosaic from November 28, 2011, until May 17, 2012 ( Id. at 2, ¶ 2; Id. at 9, ¶ 36).

Mosaic states the basis of Ngrime's termination was an allegation from a coworker, Jasmine Branch ("Branch"), made May 9, 2012, stating Ngrime physically abused one of Mosaic's clients, J.J. ("JJ") ( Id. at 5-6, at ¶ 19). Mosaic interviewed Ngrime, Branch, JJ, and others during its investigation of the allegations on May 11, 2012 ( Id. at 6-7, ¶ 25). Branch reported that, on the day in question, Ngrime and JJ fought repeatedly, but ultimately, Ngrime open-handed hit JJ on the right side of his back, below the shoulder blade ( Id. at 7, ¶ 28). Branch also reported that Ngrime later mocked JJ's pain ( Id. at 7-8, ¶ 29). Ngrime denied hitting JJ but explained that he defensively held JJ's hands behind his back after JJ attacked Ngrime ( Id. at 8, ¶ 30). JJ reported that Ngrime and JJ fought, that he was hurt, and that Ngrime was the one who hurt him ( Id. at ¶ 30). Investigator Nicole Halpine ("Halpine") observed a reddened scabbed area on JJ's right shoulder ( Id. at ¶ 32). Halpine issued the following report to Mosaic on May 16, 2012:

I can substantiate that [Ngrime] and [JJ] were involved in physical altercation two times on the evening of 05/08/12. These altercations took place because of [Ngrime] taking soap out of [JJ's] room. When the first event happened, [JJ] hit [Ngrime] and Jasmine removed roommate T.S. so he would not be scared. Co-worker Savanna came over when she heard the yelling and helped de-escalate the situation. The second altercation took place when [JJ] was again asking for soap and [Ngrime] entered his room to look for the soap. [JJ] told him to leave and hit [Ngrime] again. This time their fingers locked up and [JJ] released one hand and continued to hit [Ngrime]. [JJ] then went to the kitchen to get soap for his shower and when Ngrime tried to redirect him, [JJ] hit him again and [Ngrime] hit [JJ] on the right side of his back below the shoulder blade. Jasmine did not say anything to [Ngrime] and did not intervene, she gave [JJ] his rationed soap and [JJ] went to take a shower. At this time Jasmine noticed that [JJ's] back shoulder area was red. At the end of her shift, [JJ's] back was still red, she did call Mary Range, DSA when she was off work to discuss what to do and was told to report it, however Jasmine did not report the incident to anyone.

( Id. at 8-9, ¶ 35 (citing Filing No. 42-3 ("Ex.49"), at 223-24)). Mosaic terminated Ngrime May 17, 2012 ( Id. at 9, ¶ 36). May 30, 2012, Ngrime appealed his termination and claimed for the first time that his discharge was based on his race, national origin, or color ( Id. at 9-10, ¶ 39).

On August 13, 2012, after an appeal upheld his termination, Ngrime filed his complaint against Mosaic with the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission ("NEOC"), which was cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") ( Id. at 10, ¶ 41). Ngrime alleged race, color, and national origin discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Nebraska Equal Employment Practice Act ("FEPA") ( Id. ). On January 30, 2013, the NEOC issued a "no reasonable cause" finding and a "right to sue" notice ( Id. at ¶ 42). The EEOC adopted the NEOC's findings and sent a "right to sue" on March 26, 2013 (Filing No. 42, at 10, ¶ 43; Filing No. 8, at 3). Ngrime filed his lawsuit in federal court July 1, 2013, and amended his complaint November 21, 2013 ( Id. at 42, ¶ 44). Ngrime alleges disparate treatment and harassment at Mosaic based upon his race, color, and national origin ( Id. ).

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A motion for summary judgment shall be granted by the Court "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 "material" fact is one that "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, " and a genuine issue of material fact exists 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). On a motion for summary judgment, facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a genuine dispute as to those facts. Wood v. SatCom Marketing, LLC, 705 F.3d 823, 828 (8th Cir. 2013).

The moving party bears the burden to establish that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970). If the moving party does not meet its initial burden, summary judgment must be denied even if no affidavits or other evidence have been submitted in opposition to the motion. See id. at 159-60. After the moving party has met its burden, "the non-moving party may not rest on the allegations of his pleadings, but must set forth specific facts, by affidavit or other evidence, showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists." Singletary v. Missouri Dept. of Corrections, 423 F.3d 886, 890 (8th Cir. 2005).

III. DISCUSSION

A. TIME BAR

Section 2000e-5 of Title 42 limits to 90 days the time period in which a plaintiff may timely file a motion in federal court after a receipt of an EEOC "right to sue" letter. Mosaic claims Ngrime's motion was untimely and moves for summary judgment. The EEOC letter was sent on March 26, 2013. Filing No. 42, at 10, ¶ 43; Filing No. 8, at 3. Ngrime filed his lawsuit ...


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