Mccoy v. State of Alabama Department of Corrections et al

Filing 59

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER directing that it is ORDERED that the 42 Motion for summary judgment is GRANTED; this case is DISMISSED with prejudice, as further set out in order. Signed by Honorable William Keith Watkins on 6/18/10. (scn, )

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT F O R THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA N O R T H E R N DIVISION R IC O R. MCCOY, P la in tif f , v. S T A T E OF ALABAMA D E P A R T M E N T OF CORRECTIONS, e t al., D e f e n d a n ts. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) C A S E NO. 2:09-CV-51-WKW [WO] MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER P la in tif f Rico R. McCoy, a former correctional officer employed by the Alabama D e p a rtm e n t of Corrections ("ADOC"), sues ADOC, its Director, and several of his superiors o n multiple theories relating to his termination. Before the court is Defendants' motion for s u m m a ry judgment. (Doc. # 42.) Upon consideration, the court concludes that the motion is due to be granted. I . JURISDICTION AND VENUE T h e court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1331, 1367, and 1441. The parties do not contest personal jurisdiction or venue, and the c o u rt finds adequate allegations in support of each. I I. STANDARD OF REVIEW S u m m a ry judgment is appropriate if "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure m a te ria ls on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see G r e e n b e rg v. BellSouth Telecomms., Inc., 498 F.3d 1258, 1263 (11th Cir. 2007). The party m o v in g for summary judgment "always bears the initial responsibility of informing the d i s tric t court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the record, in c lu d in g pleadings, discovery materials and affidavits], which it believes demonstrate the a b s e n c e of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1 9 8 6 ). The movant may meet this burden by presenting evidence indicating there is no d is p u te of material fact or by showing that the nonmoving party has failed to present e v id e n c e in support of some element of its case on which it bears the ultimate burden of p ro o f . Id. at 322-24. If the movant meets its evidentiary burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to establish, with evidence beyond the pleadings, that a genuine issue material to each of its c la im s for relief exists. Fed. R. Civ. P 56(e)(2) ("When a motion for summary judgment is p ro p e rly made and supported, an opposing party may not rely merely on allegations or d e n ia ls in its own pleading; rather, its response must . . . set out specific facts showing a g e n u in e issue for trial."); Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991); C e lo te x , 477 U.S. at 324. What is material is determined by the substantive law applicable to the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Lofton v. Sec'y of th e Dep't of Children & Family Servs., 358 F.3d 804, 809 (11th Cir. 2004) ("Only factual d is p u te s that are material under the substantive law governing the case will preclude entry 2 of summary judgment."). Furthermore, "[t]he mere existence of some factual dispute will n o t defeat summary judgment unless that factual dispute is material to an issue affecting the o u tc o m e of the case." McCormick v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 333 F.3d 1234, 1243 (11th C ir. 2003) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). A genuine issue of material fact exists when the nonmoving party produces evidence th a t would allow a reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict in its favor. Greenberg, 498 F .3 d at 1263; Waddell v. Valley Forge Dental Assocs., 276 F.3d 1275, 1279 (11th Cir. 2001). If the evidence on which the nonmoving party relies, however, "is merely colorable, or is not s ig n if ic a n tly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson , 477 U.S. at 249-50 (1 9 8 6 ) (citations omitted). "A mere `scintilla' of evidence supporting the [nonmovant's] p o s itio n will not suffice; there must be enough of a showing that the [trier of fact] could re a s o n a b ly find for that party," Walker v. Darby, 911 F.2d 1573, 1577 (11th Cir. 1990) (c ita tio n omitted), and the nonmoving party "must do more than simply show that there is s o m e metaphysical doubt as to the material facts," Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith R a d io Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Hence, when a plaintiff fails to set forth specific f a c ts supported by appropriate evidence sufficient to establish the existence of an element e s s e n tia l to his case and on which the plaintiff will bear the burden of proof at trial, summary ju d g m e n t should be granted in favor of the defendant. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. T h u s , in cases where the evidence is admissible on its face or can be reduced to a d m is sib le form and establishes there is no genuine issue of material fact, and where the 3 party moving for summary judgment is entitled to it as a matter of law, summary judgment is proper. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24. I I I . DISCUSSION 1 T h e operative complaint (Doc. # 16) in this case states five counts: (1) violation of the F a ir Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. 201, et seq., in relation to the calculation o f Mr. McCoy's overtime pay; (2) violation of the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U .S .C . 2601, et seq.; (3) violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U .S .C . 12102, et seq. relating to alleged failure to reasonably accommodate Mr. McCoy's k id n e y problems; (4) brought together in one count, "Title VII and U.S. Constitutional V io la tio n s ," including violations of 42 U.S.C. 1981, 1983, and 2000e, and violations of M r. McCoy's alleged constitutional First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights to free s p e e c h , free association, freedom from race and gender discrimination and retaliation, denial o f a property interest or right without due process of law, and violations of the Equal P ro te c tio n Clause2 ; (5) state-law claims for harassment, slander, libel, mental anguish, 1 Previously, the court continued this case (Doc. # 56) pending a ruling on Mr. McCoy's claims before a state Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). ADOC informed the court that the ALJ has ruled against Mr. McCoy (Doc. # 57), and Mr. McCoy filed a notice that he plans to seek review of the ruling. (Doc. # 58.) The court is satisfied that is has subject-matter jurisdiction over the case, given that Mr. McCoy suffered the injury-in-fact of being fired, and ADOC does not ask for an additional delay pending a final ruling by a state tribunal. Some of Mr. McCoy's claims (such as the section 1983 claims) do not require exhaustion in any event, McKinney v. Pate, 20 F.3d 1550, 1564 (11th Cir. 1994), while with respect to others than do (Title VII claims, which require exhaustion before the EEOC), ADOC has not raised an exhaustion defense. Because Mr. McCoy's claims are all borderline frivolous and unsupported, the court elects to resolve the summary judgment motion on that basis. The Amended Complaint also refers to "[o]ther unlawful violations, yet undiscovered" in this count, but the court will not consider any such violations, as none has been subsequently alleged. (Doc. # 16, at 22.) 2 4 intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud, theft of property, outrage, invasion of p ro p e rty, and interference with contract. Defendants' basic defense to all Mr. McCoy's claims is that he was fired not for any im p ro p e r motive, but because he fell asleep four times on the job. (Doc. # 43, at 1-3.) Defendants also more specifically argue that three of the individual Defendants John C u m m in s , V.L. Napier, and Vivian Langford are due to be dismissed from all counts b e c a u s e there is no allegation that they were final decisionmakers with respect to Mr. M c C o y's termination. While this assertion appears well taken in many respects, it would not a p p e a r to apply to the state-law torts alleged by Mr. McCoy. Given that the court must a d d re s s the individual counts with respect to ADOC and Commissioner Allen in any event, it will simply rely on that analysis in support of dismissal, rather than separately dismissing th e s e three Defendants. A . Fair Labor Standards Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and Americans W ith Disabilities Act Claims W h ile these three federal statutes differ in their elements, Mr. McCoy's claims p u rs u a n t to them are equally frivolous and unsupported by any citations to the record. The F L S A claim appears to relate to Mr. McCoy's assertion that ADOC failed to pay him o v e rtim e "in a timely fashion." (Doc. # 45, at 2.) The context of this statement is an a lle g a tio n that he was retaliated against for taking up his pursuit of overtime pay with s u p e rio r officers. There is no explanation of the present state of Mr. McCoy's claims for 5 unpaid overtime, or any basis in the record by which a jury could make an award on this c la im . Accordingly, the motion for summary judgment is due to be granted on the FMLA c la im . T h e ADA is likewise not referenced at all in Mr. McCoy's response, except indirectly in paragraphs stating that Mr. McCoy has a kidney ailment that causes him to become " le th a rg ic ," and that could have been reasonably accommodated by ADOC, but was not. (Doc. # 45, 10-13.) The FMLA claim is perhaps the subject of Mr. McCoy's statement th a t his family "caused him to miss work occasionally." (Doc. # 45, 14, 15.) In neither c a s e is there any analysis of the elements of the causes of action, or any citations to the s u m m a ry judgment record. Such bare-bones statements of claims are insufficient to survive s u m m a ry judgment. See Resolution Trust Corp. v. Dunmar Corp., 43 F.3d 587, 599 (11th C ir. 1995) ("In opposing a motion for summary judgment, a party may not rely on his p le a d in g s to avoid judgment against him. There is no burden upon the district court to distill e v e ry potential argument that could be made based upon the materials before it on summary ju d g m e n t. Rather, the onus is upon the parties to formulate arguments; grounds alleged in the c o m p la in t but not relied upon in summary judgment are deemed abandoned."). Accordingly, th e motion for summary judgment is due to be granted as to these claims. B . Title VII and Other Discrimination Claims M r. McCoy's Title VII and other claims for racial and sex discrimination and for re ta lia tio n would appear to fit more closely with the allegations in his Amended Complaint; 6 however, Mr. McCoy still must provide some evidentiary support for these claims at the s u m m a ry judgment stage. This is especially true in light of Defendants' extensive c o m p ila tio n of evidence showing that Mr. McCoy was fired because he fell asleep on the job o n multiple occasions. (See Doc. # 42, Exs. 1-31.) Mr. McCoy does not cite anything in th e s e exhibits, or in the lengthy transcript of his hearing before a state administrative law ju d g e (Doc. # 44, Ex. 1-3) to contradict ADOC's theory of the case. Nor did he file any s u m m a ry judgment evidence of his own. His response brief is filled with unsupported a s s e rtio n s of fact explaining his theory that he was fired in retaliation for various complaints h e made to his superiors or to outside agencies. The response does not even mention the race a n d sex discrimination claims. Mr. McCoy has presented no evidence in support of his c l a i m s , multifarious though they are, and, under the appropriate law, there are no genuine is su e s of material fact with respect to them. Summary judgment is due to be granted in favor o f Defendants on all the theories raised in Count IV of the Amended Complaint. C . State Law Claims M r. McCoy's ten state-law theories fare no better. They go entirely unmentioned and u n s u p p o rte d in his response to the motion for summary judgment, and therefore, are deemed a b a n d o n e d . Even if he had established a genuine issue of material fact with respect to one o r more of them, he does not contest Defendants' claim that they would be entitled to statela w immunity from suit on such claims. As with the other claims, the motion for summary ju d g m e n t is due to be granted. 7 IV. CONCLUSION B e c a u s e there are no genuine issues of material fact in this case, it is ORDERED that th e motion for summary judgment (Doc. # 42) is GRANTED. This case is DISMISSED with p re ju d ic e . Final judgment will be entered separately. D O N E this 18th day of June, 2010. /s/ W. Keith Watkins UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 8

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