Hostile Work Environment Claim, Unaddressed in Summary Judgment Opposition, Deemed Abandoned

In Page v. Half Hollow Hills Central School District, 16-cv-4710, 2019 WL 764748, (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 20, 2019), the court, inter alia, granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim on the ground that plaintiff did not address that claim in his papers opposing the motion.

Here, defendants sought summary judgment on all of Plaintiff’s claims, including those alleging that Defendants’ conduct created a hostile work environment. However, plaintiff’s opposition was limited to arguments regarding his race discrimination – as opposed to hostile work environment – claims under Title VII, § 1981, and the NYSHRL.

The court explained the relevant law:

In [the Second] Circuit, “in the case of a counseled party, a court may, when appropriate, infer from a party’s partial opposition [to summary judgment] that relevant claims or defenses that are not defended have been abandoned.” Jackson v. Fed. Express., 766 F.3d 189, 198 (2d Cir. 2014); accord Kovaco v. Rockbestos-Surprenant Cable Corp., 834 F.3d 128, 143 (2d Cir. 2016) (hostile work environment claims deemed abandoned where plaintiff “fail[ed] to argue that they should survive [defendant’s] motion for summary judgment” while arguing against the motion as to his other claims); Grassel v. Dep’t of Educ. of City of N.Y., No. 12 CV 1016, 2015 WL 5657343, at *9 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 24, 2015) (“When a party opposing summary judgment fails to respond to the moving party’s argument on a claim, the Court may deem the claim abandoned”); Thomas v. Atl. Express Corp., No. 07 CIV.1978, 2009 WL 856993, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 31, 2009) (dismissing plaintiff’s claims with prejudice where “[i]n his opposition, [the plaintiff] failed to respond to [defendant’s] argument that his due process claim should be dismissed, and therefore that claim is deemed abandoned”); Taylor v. City of New York, 269 F. Supp. 2d 68, 75 (E.D.N.Y. 2003) (“Federal courts may deem a claim abandoned when a party moves for summary judgment on one ground and the party opposing summary judgment fails to address the argument in any way”).

Applying that law, the court held that “[w]hile Defendants expressly moved for summary judgment on Plaintiff’s hostile work environment and equal protection claims, Plaintiff did not even reference those claims in his opposition brief, let alone address any of Defendants’ arguments”, and therefore, “Plaintiff’s hostile work environment and equal protection claims are deemed abandoned, and summary judgment on those claims is granted in favor of Defendants.”