United States District Court, D. Colorado
OPINION AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY
S. KRIEGER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court on the Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment (# 33) and the
Plaintiff's Response (# 35). For the
following reasons, the Motion is granted.
Court exercises jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Monica Schnittgrund, now 54, was a teacher at Smith
Elementary School, part of Denver Public Schools (the
District). After teaching with the District for 17 years, her
position was eliminated in March 2011. She then worked
as a teacher at Steck Elementary School during the 2011-2012
academic year on a temporary basis while she sought a
permanent position. At age 48, she applied for 85 teaching
positions in the District and received interviews at Steck,
Grant Ranch Elementary School, Traylor Elementary School, and
Fairview Elementary School. She also applied and received an
interview to be a peer observer. She was not hired for any of
the positions and remains on indefinite unpaid leave.
the Court's order (## 29,
31) on the District's Motion to Dismiss
(# 14), Ms. Schnittgrund brings one claim of
discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act (ADEA). The District now moves for summary
judgment (# 33).
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure facilitates the entry
of a judgment only if no trial is necessary. See White v.
York Int'l Corp., 45 F.3d 357, 360 (10th Cir. 1995).
Summary adjudication is authorized when there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and a party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Substantive
law governs what facts are material and what issues must be
determined. It also specifies the elements that must be
proved for a given claim or defense, sets the standard of
proof, and identifies the party with the burden of proof.
See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
248 (1986); Kaiser-Francis Oil Co. v. Producer's Gas
Co., 870 F.2d 563, 565 (10th Cir. 1989). A factual
dispute is “genuine” and summary judgment is
precluded if the evidence presented in support of and
opposition to the motion is so contradictory that, if
presented at trial, a judgment could enter for either party.
See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. When considering a
summary judgment motion, a court views all evidence in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party, thereby
favoring the right to a trial. See Garrett v. Hewlett
Packard Co., 305 F.3d 1210, 1213 (10th Cir. 2002).
movant has the burden of proof on a claim or defense, the
movant must establish every element of its claim or defense
by sufficient, competent evidence. See Fed. R. Civ.
P. 56(c)(1)(A). Once the moving party has met its burden, to
avoid summary judgment the responding party must present
sufficient, competent, contradictory evidence to establish a
genuine factual dispute. See Bacchus Indus. Inc. v. Arvin
Indus. Inc., 939 F.2d 887, 891 (10th Cir. 1991);
Perry v. Woodward, 199 F.3d 1126, 1131 (10th Cir.
1999). If there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact, a
trial is required. If there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact, no trial is required. The court then applies
the law to the undisputed facts and enters judgment.
moving party does not have the burden of proof at trial, it
must point to an absence of sufficient evidence to establish
the claim or defense that the non-movant is obligated to
prove. If the respondent comes forward with sufficient
competent evidence to establish a prima facie claim
or defense, a trial is required. If the respondent fails to
produce sufficient competent evidence to establish its claim
or defense, then the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).
unlawful to discriminate against an individual with respect
to her terms and conditions of employment because of her age.
29 U.S.C. § 623. The posture of this case is not the
standard age-discrimination paradigm where a plaintiff was
discharged and a younger person was hired to fill the
position. Rather, Ms. Schnittgrund's position was
eliminated. She does not contend that the elimination of her
job was based on her age. She contends that when she applied
for new jobs, she was not selected due to her age. Thus, to
establish a prima facie case under the ADEA, Ms.
Schnittgrund must prove that (1) she is within the protected
age group; (2) she was not selected for positions with the
District; (3) she was qualified for the positions; and (4)
the positions were filled by younger people. See Rivera
v. City & Cty. of Denver, 365 F.3d 912, 920 (10th
there is no direct evidence of discrimination, the Court
applies the burden-shifting framework outlined in
McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792,
802-03 (1973). McDonnell Douglas applies to Ms.
Schnittgrund's ADEA claim. See Jones v. Okla. City
Pub. Schs., 617 F.3d 1273, 1278-79 (10th Cir. 2010).
Under this framework, Ms. Schnittgrund must first make out a
prima facie case of discrimination as described. If
she is successful, the burden shifts to the District to
articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its
employment actions. If the District proffers such a reason,