This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

CX-99-1508

 

Catherine A. Madson, petitioner,
Appellant,

vs.

Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Company,
a Delaware corporation,
Respondent.

 

Filed January 2, 2001

Affirmed; motion denied

Crippen, Judge

 

Ramsey County District Court

File No. C0985021

 

Dennis Paul Pelowski, 300 Lumber Exchange Building, Ten South Fifth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)

 

Kathleen M. Mahoney, David Jordan-Huffman, Oppenheimer, Wolff & Donnelly, L.L.P., Plaza VII, Suite 3300, 45 South Seventh Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent)

 

            Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Kalitowski, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

CRIPPEN, Judge

            Appellant Catherine Madson appeals the trial court’s summary judgment that the discrimination she alleges occurred on or before March 5, 1996—meaning that the limitations period for the case expired on March 5, 1997, one day before appellant filed a charge with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.  Because the best construction of the record in favor of appellant does not show a genuine issue on the question of the date of occurrence—the date on which appellant believed that she had a cause of action—we affirm.

FACTS

 

Appellant worked for respondent Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Company on and off for 19 years.  She believes that she was subjected to a harassing, intimidating, and discriminating environment for years while working for 3M.  On March 4, 1996, appellant accepted a job with General Mills.  On March 5, 1996, after working a full day, appellant packed up her belongings and went home.  March 5 was the last day on which appellant was physically present at the 3M plant.  Sometime after that date, appellant notified 3M that she was resigning.

On March 6, 1997, appellant filed a charge against 3M with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.  In March 1998, appellant commenced a civil action against 3M, alleging gender and marital status discrimination and retaliation under the Minnesota Human Rights Act.  After the close of discovery, 3M moved for summary judgment, arguing, among other things, that appellant’s claims were barred by the one-year statute of limitations contained in the Human Rights Act.  Appellant opposed 3M’s motion for summary judgment, arguing that her claims were not time barred because she did not officially resign from 3M until March 8, 1996.

The trial court entered a summary judgment dismissing appellant’s suit, finding that appellant’s claims were barred by the one-year statute of limitation.[1]  Assuming arguendo that appellant was constructively discharged, the court determined that the statute of limitations began to run at the latest on March 5, 1996.

D E C I S I O N

 

On an appeal from summary judgment, the appellate court determines whether there are any genuine issues of material fact or the trial court erred in applying the law.  State by Cooper v. French, 460 N.W.2d 2, 4 (Minn. 1990).  We must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the party against whom judgment was granted.  Fabio v. Bellomo, 504 N.W.2d 758, 761 (Minn. 1993).  No genuine issue of material fact exists “[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party.”  DLH Inc. v. Russ, 566 N.W.2d 60, 69 (Minn. 1997) (alteration in original) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S. Ct. 1348, 1356 (1986)).

            A plaintiff must file a discrimination charge “within one year after the occurrence of the practice.”  Minn. Stat. § 363.06, subd. 3.  In determining when the discriminatory practice occurred, the court must examine “the discriminatory act rather than when the consequences of that act become most painful.”  Turner v. IDS Fin. Servs., Inc., 471 N.W.2d 105, 107-08 (Minn. 1991).

            Appellant argues that her claims were timely filed because she was constructively discharged on March 8, 1996, the day on which she told 3M that she was resigning.  Contrary to appellant’s argument, the trial court properly identified indisputable evidence that by March 5, 1996, appellant believed that she had suffered discrimination requiring that she leave her employment.  Aside from her acceptance of other employment and the end of her service at 3M, the court correctly rested on appellant’s deposition response confirming that March 5, 1996, was the date that she “decided” that she “would not stay at 3M.”

            Appellant argues that the statute of limitations did not begin to run until at least March 7, 1996, because up until that date, she believed that she could still save her job at 3M.  First, relying on her affidavit dated February 8, 1999, appellant points to evidence that on March 7, 1996, she took a test for a new position.  But appellant earlier answered an interrogatory with a statement that this testing occurred on March 5, 1996, the last day of her work at 3M.  See, e.g., Oreck v. Harvey Homes, Inc., 602 N.W.2d 424, 429 (Minn. App. 1999), review denied (Minn. Jan. 25, 2000) (ruling that a self-serving affidavit that contradicts earlier damaging deposition testimony is not sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment).[2]

Second, relying again on her 1999 affidavit, appellant cites evidence that she was told on March 7 she would not get a new position at 3M.  But twice before appellant asserted that this event occurred on March 1.  In her answers to interrogatories dated December 8, 1998, appellant stated:

On March 1, 1996, Plaintiff made follow up calls to the interview she had with Pam VanDeVelde in Data Storage to see if I could join the NeWCO/Imation Team.  They needed 40 people and only had six volunteers.  Plaintiff asked for immediate assignment, or an estimate of when she could start.  They refused to consider plaintiff.

 

(Appellant App. at A98.)  Appellant made this same statement in the administrative proceedings.  Appellant’s later-prepared affidavit does not contradict these two prior statements; the affidavit does not dispute that she was told on March 1 that she would not get the new position.  Should it be assumed that another rejection occurred on March 7, it merely reiterated the rejection that occurred on March 1.

            In addition to appealing the trial court’s summary judgment, appellant also challenges the court’s denial of her motion to vacate the judgment, in which she asked the court to consider a letter indicating 3M’s acceptance of appellant’s resignation on March 8, 1996.  But the trial court correctly decided that this letter was not a “determinative factor,” that it did not affect the merits of the earlier decision on the statute of limitations.  Indeed, the confirmation of the resignation does not refute the evidence that appellant believed on March 5 that her employment was terminated.  She does not claim that her supervisor had left some uncertainty in the air until he wrote his letter.  In fact, appellant’s interrogatories say that she refused contact with her supervisor after March 5.  Appellant notes that the trial court failed to apply all factors that determine whether a judgment should be vacated.  But all of these factors must be shown to justify the relief.  Ngyuen v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 558 N.W.2d 487, 490 (Minn. 1997).  The court found conclusively that one factor determined the case, that appellant had no reasonable claim on the merits because the statute of limitations governed the case, with or without the letter.  The court could not reach appellant’s other arguments on the merits of her discrimination grievance, because the statute of limitations had already expired.

            Finally, we deny respondent’s motion to strike certain documents submitted by appellant in her appendix.  The documents were presented to the trial court in the vacation proceedings and are a part of the appellate record.  But as the trial court determined, these documents do not indicate cause for upsetting the court’s summary judgment.

            Affirmed; motion denied.

 



[1] In pertinent part, Minn. Stat. § 363.06, subd. 3 provides:

 

A claim of an unfair discriminatory practice must be brought as a civil action * * * or filed in a charge with the commissioner within one year after the occurrence of the practice.

 

Minn. Stat. § 363.06, subd. 3 (1998).

[2] Appellant’s affidavit of February 8, 1999, also states that when she accepted the General Mills offer, she “continued to harbor hope” that she would get a new 3M position.  The trial court rightly relied on a deposition response that a decision in that regard occurred on March 5, 1996.