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Songa v. Sunrise Senior Living Investments Inc.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

May 16, 2014

Mattu Songa, Plaintiff,
v.
Sunrise Senior Living Investments Inc., doing business as Rosewood Estates, Defendant

Mattu Songa, New Brighton, MN, Pro se.

Jeffrey B. Hardie, Esq., Thomas P. Murphy, Esq. and Hunton & Williams, LLP, McLean, VA; Joel D. O'Malley, Esq. and Dorsey & Whitney LLP, Minneapolis, MN, counsel for defendant.

OPINION

David S. Doty, United States District Judge.

Page 940

ORDER

This matter is before the court upon the motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment by defendant Sunrise Senior Living Investments, Inc. (Sunrise), doing business as Rosewood Estates. Based on a review of the file, record and proceedings herein, and for the following reasons, the court grants the motion for summary judgment.

Page 941

BACKGROUND

This employment dispute arises out of the February 2, 2010, termination of pro se plaintiff Mattu Songa by Sunrise. From March 2004 until her termination, Songa worked at several Sunrise facilities. At the time of her termination, Songa was an assisted living supervisor at the Rosewood Estates facility in Roseville, Minnesota. Compl. ¶ 3. Songa was hired as an at-will employee. See Cherwin Decl. Ex. A. Sunrise told Songa that her employment would continue " in accordance with applicable laws and regulations." Compl. ¶ 19. Songa received positive performance evaluations and was the only supervisor employed by Sunrise who was an African immigrant. See Songa Aff. ¶ 3; id. Ex. 6.

On January 10, 2010, Songa encountered a calendar entry referring to a " Negro appointment" with a physician at Rosewood Estates with whom she was scheduled to meet. Songa Aff. ¶ 7. Songa reported the entry to Executive Director Grace Hall. Id. ¶ 8. No action was taken in response to the entry. Id. ¶ 9. Songa alleges that, on several occasions, Hall stated that Songa " focused on ... culture too much." See Compl. ¶ 24; Songa Aff. Ex. 7. On February 2, 2010, Songa was terminated. Compl. ¶ 4. Hall later informed Songa that " [t]he reason for [her] termination was failure to work in a cooperative manner." Songa Aff. Ex. 5.

On August 19, 2013, Songa filed a complaint, alleging defamation, breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) and discrimination under Title VII and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA).[1] Sunrise moved to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. On December 10, 2013, the court notified the parties that it would consider the instant motion as one for summary judgment and allowed the submission of additional materials.

DISCUSSION

I. Rule 56(d)

Songa first argues that summary judgment is not warranted because discovery is not complete. " A party opposing summary judgment who believes that she has not had an adequate opportunity to conduct discovery must seek relief pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56[d], which requires the filing of an affidavit with the trial court showing what specific facts further discovery might unveil." Stanback v. Best Diversified Prods., Inc.,180 F.3d 903, 911 (8th Cir. 1999) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Songa filed an affidavit, but has not identified specific facts that discovery would reveal in support of her claims. Further, the parties were notified that the court intended to treat the instant motion as one for summary judgment. Upon such notice, Songa submitted a supplemental memorandum opposing summary judgment, but adduced no further evidence, exhibits or affidavits in support of her position. " Where a party fails to carry her burden under Rule 56[d], postponement of a ...


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