Saturday, May 01, 2004

More on employment law and summary judgment

Via this post from Abstract Appeal, the Eleventh Circuit in the case of Hulsey v. Pride Restaurants, LLC reversed the district court's order granting summary judgment.

The District Court had written only to explain its decision: "For the reasons appearing in the motion for summary judgment filed by defendant, Pride Restaurants, LLC, and elaborated in its evidentiary submission and accompanying brief, the court finds that there are no genuine disputes of material fact, so that defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The court sees no purpose in writing an opinion that simply reiterates the undisputed relevant evidence and the propositions of law contained in defendant’s submissions, with which the court agrees and which the court adopts."

While noting that findings of fact and conclusions of law on the order of Rule 52 are not required when a trial court grants summary judgment, the appeals court was critical of this terse manner of disposing of the case, which has the effect of leaving the appeals court "like the proverbial blind hog, scrambling through the record in search of an acorn." (quoting Clay v. Equifax, Inc., 762 F.2d 952, 957 (11th Cir. 1985)).

The opinion goes on to describe the different theories of sexual harassment, and to point out that while the plaintiff's has not quite mastered the jargon, the plaintiff had alleged enough of a case to avoid summary judgment, on liability theory the defense did not even think was in the case, which was surely a bummer for defense counsel.

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