United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
O'GRADY, District Judge.
Bahta, a long-time employee of the Renaissance Washington, DC
Downtown Hotel, sued after she was terminated in the wake of
a violent altercation with another employee. Pending before
the Court is Defendant Renaissance Hotel Operating
Company's Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative,
Motion for Summary Judgment and Ms. Bahta's motion for
leave to file an untimely responsive pleading. (Dkt. Nos. 16,
21). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78 and Local
Rule 7(J), the Court will dispense with an oral hearing and
rule on the briefs submitted. For the reasons that follow,
the Court will consider Ms. Bahta's late-filed
opposition, treat Defendant's motion as one for summary
judgment, and grant that motion.
Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel
("Renaissance") employed Rosa Bahta for more than
twenty years. On December 21, 2013, a fellow employee, Desta
Araya, attacked Bahta and she suffered injuries as a result.
After the altercation, Bahta alleges that Renaissance staff
instructed her not to call 911, but to instead report the
incident to hotel security. Bahta Aff. Â¶ 4. Bahta also
alleges that Araya had a long history of abusing his
coworkers and that Renaissance had failed to discipline or
otherwise deter him. In her affidavit, Bahta recalls that
Araya "exhibited ill will" toward her on
approximately ten to fifteen different occasions.
Id. Â¶ 3. She reported this "bad blood" to
a supervisor and requested that she be separated from Araya,
but the request was denied. Id.
January 11, 2014, Renaissance terminated Bahta, for what
Bahta believes was "without cause and because she was a
victim of that crime." Am. Compl. Â¶ 7. Bahta appealed
the termination decision to a Peer Review Panel. Bahta Aff. Â¶
1. On January 23, the panel issued a letter affirming the
termination decision. Bahta Aff., Ex. 1.
time of her termination, Bahta was fifty-five years old. In
the time since she was fired, she has not had an income and
has been "treated by various medical professionals for
severe, continuing physical, mental, and emotional
injuries." Bahta Aff. Â¶ 10. Bahta did file a complaint
with the Washington, D.C. Department of Employment Services
("DOES") Office of Workers' Compensation, which
resulted in an $85, 000 lump-sum payment. Ex. C, Def.'s
Mtn. Summ. J.
filed this federal action on January 23, 2015 and
subsequently filed an amended complaint on October 2, 2015.
(Dkt. Nos. 1, 10). On December 2, 2015, Renaissance moved to
dismiss the complaint or, alternatively, for summary
judgment. (Dkt. No. 16). Renaissance attached three exhibits
to its motion. Exhibit A is a copy of the hotel's
employee handbook, dated August 2013. Exhibit B is Ms.
Bahta's executed "Acknowledgement of the Renaissance
Washington D.C. Hotel Policies" dated April 24, 1996.
Exhibit C is a copy of DOES' approval of the $85, 000
lump-sum worker's compensation payment.
January 15, 2016, Bahta filed an opposition as an attachment
to her motion for leave to file an untimely opposition. (Dkt.
No. 21). Included with the opposition is an affidavit from
Bahta and the letter from Renaissance's Peer Review Panel
affirming the termination decision. Renaissance has opposed
the untimely opposition. (Dkt. No. 22).
Plaintiff's Delay in Filing a Responsive Pleading
Rule of Civil Procedure 6(b)(1)(B) permits courts to extend
deadlines on a motion made after the time to file has expired
upon finding good cause and excusable neglect. In determining
whether excusable neglect exists, the Court considers: (1)
"the danger of prejudice to the [nonmoving party],
" (2) "the length of delay and its potential impact
on judicial proceedings, " (3) "the reason for the
delay, including whether it was within the reasonable control
of the movant, " and (4) "whether the movant acted
in good faith." Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v. Brunswick
Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 507 U.S. 380, 395 (1993).
counsel's suggestion that his busy schedule preparing for
"other intervening court deadlines" is not an
adequate justification for the delay, counsel has also
represented to the Court that "additional time [was]
necessitated by Plaintiff and her Counsel having different
native tongues." (Dkt. No. 21, at 2). Indeed, most of
the arguments in Ms. Banta's opposition rely on her
the reason for delay may not present extraordinary
circumstances, the Court finds that the remaining factors
provide a sufficient counterbalance to any deficiency in the
cause for delay. First, there is no prejudice to the
nonmoving party. In its opposition, Renaissance explains its
concern is that the Court's acceptance of the late-filed
opposition will require devoting additional resources to a
reply brief or alternatively, will cause postponement of oral
argument. The Court has dispensed with an oral hearing,
however, and this decision will issue close in time to the
date that the previously scheduled hearing was set to occur.
Moreover, the Court does not believe a reply brief is needed.
In fact, it is to Renaissance's benefit for the Court to
consider the opposition because it is the opposition and the
documents attached that confirm judgment in favor of
Renaissance is warranted. Second, while the delay was nearly
a month, it will have no impact on the proceedings for the
reasons already explained. Finally, the Court finds an
absence of bad faith. In sum, the Court finds cause exists to
consider the late filing.
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss or Alternatively ...