Jerry Kennedy v. Jefferson County, Mississippi


UNPUBLISHED OPINION FILED. [16-60805 Affirmed ] Judge: CDK , Judge: JLD , Judge: GJC Mandate pull date is 06/08/2017 [16-60805]

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Case: 16-60805 Document: 00513997849 Page: 1 Date Filed: 05/18/2017 IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT No. 16-60805 Summary Calendar JERRY L. KENNEDY, United States Court of Appeals Fif h Circuit FILED May 18, 2017 Lyle W. Cayce Clerk Plaintiff - Appellant v. JEFFERSON COUNTY HOSPITAL, Defendant - Appellee Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi USDC No. 5:13-CV-226 Before KING, DENNIS, and COSTA, Circuit Judges. PER CURIAM:* Jerry Kennedy was fired by Jefferson County Hospital. Kennedy filed for unemployment benefits, which were denied when an Administrative Law Judge from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) found that Kennedy had been terminated for misconduct. His appeal of that Pursuant to 5TH CIR. R. 47.5, the court has determined that this opinion should not be published and is not precedent except under the limited circumstances set forth in 5TH CIR. R. 47.5.4. * Case: 16-60805 Document: 00513997849 Page: 2 Date Filed: 05/18/2017 No. 16-60805 decision to the MDES Board of Review was unsuccessful. Kennedy did not seek judicial review of the administrative ruling. Instead, Kennedy started from scratch and filed a separate action in state court, asserting claims against a range of parties, including one for breach of contract against the Hospital. After the lawsuit was removed to federal court, the district court granted the Hospital’s motion for summary judgment. It concluded that Kennedy was barred from bringing his contract claim because he had failed to appeal the MDES’s finding of misconduct in state court. Kennedy then filed a Rule 59(e) motion to alter the judgment, claiming that an intervening change in Mississippi law called for a different result. The district court disagreed. Kennedy now appeals. We review the district court’s denial of Kennedy’s Rule 59(e) motion for abuse of discretion. Templet v. HydroChem Inc., 367 F.3d 473, 477 (5th Cir. 2004). Under this standard, the district court’s decision must only be reasonable. Ford Motor Credit Co. v. Bright, 34 F.3d 322, 324 (5th Cir. 1994). Amending a judgment under Rule 59(e) is only appropriate when (1) there has been an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) there is newly discovered evidence that was previously unavailable; or (3) there was a manifest error of law or fact. Demahy v. Schwarz Pharma, Inc., 702 F.3d 177, 182. The district court granted the Hospital’s motion for summary judgment, in part, because it held that Kennedy could not collaterally attack the MDES’s decision that he was fired for misconduct. In so holding, the district court relied on our opinion in Cox v. DeSoto Cty. Miss., 564 F.3d 745, 748 (5th Cir. 2009). That case held that a Mississippi employee could not collaterally attack a decision by a state agency when she could have challenged the ruling through direct appeal. Id., at 748. That is the situation Kennedy is in. He does not dispute that he loses under Cox. 2 Case: 16-60805 Document: 00513997849 Page: 3 Date Filed: 05/18/2017 No. 16-60805 Instead, Kennedy argues that the Supreme Court of Mississippi’s opinion in Linde Health Care Staffing, Inc. v. Claiborne County Hospital changes this rule. 198 So.3d 318 (Miss. 2016). But, as the district court discussed, Linde dealt with entirely separate legal issues from those addressed in Cox. In Linde, the Supreme Court discussed whether the Federal Arbitration Act or the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure applied to the timeliness of a motion for relief of judgment under Mississippi law. Id. at 322. It also briefly discussed whether a Mississippi court was required to recognize a foreign judgment that was obtained by extrinsic fraud. Id. at 323. Neither of these questions was at issue in Cox or here. Linde did not discuss Cox’s central holding—and its only relevant application to this case—about whether a litigant can collaterally attack a state administrative decision when there was no direct appeal of the ruling. Cox, 564 F.3d at 748. *** The district court’s denial of Kennedy’s Rule 59(e) motion is AFFIRMED. 3

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