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Tuesday, April 05, 2011
Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit issues one Indiana opinion today, again a reversal
In Radentz, et al. v. Marion County (SD Ind., Lawrence), a 14-page opinion, Judge Rovner writes:
The plaintiffs-appellants Stephen Radentz, Michele Catellier, and Forensic Pathology Associates of Indiana, brought an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the defendants violated their rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The suit was brought against Marion County, as well as against Kenneth Ackles individually and in his official capacity as Marion County Coroner, and Alfarena Ballew, individually and in her official capacity as Chief Deputy Coroner. The suit alleged that the defendants’ decision to terminate the plaintiffs’ contract of employment was based on race discrimination, and specifically was part of a broader effort to replace white workers with African-American workers. The district court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment against Radentz and Catellier, and the plaintiffs now appeal that determination. * * *
Taken as a whole, we cannot conclude that a jury would have been compelled to believe the defendants’ explanation. The plaintiffs have produced evidence casting doubt as to whether the decision was truly based on the allegedly exorbitant costs of the out-ofcounty autopsies. The ability to end those autopsies upon six months’ notice under provision K of the contract, without terminating the contract itself, is a significant factor, particularly given the defendants’ claims that they were pleased with the quality of the plaintiffs’ work and wanted to retain them. The other evidence cited above further indicates that race, rather than cost concerns, were the true reason for the decision. The issue before us is whether summary judgment was proper. There is a factual dispute as to whether the decision to terminate the contract was based on a nondiscriminatory reason or whether it was race-based. Therefore, the decision of the district court is REVERSED and the case REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 5, 2011 10:44 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions