O'Neal et al v. Cargill Inc
ORDER AND REASONS: For all of the foregoing reasons, IT IS ORDERED that plaintiff's 25 MOTION to Continue Trial is DENIED, Cargill's 18 Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED and and O'Neal's claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE, plaintiff to bear all costs. Judgment will be separately entered. Signed by Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Wilkinson, Jr on 12/22/2016. (cms)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
QUINTON O’NEAL ET AL.
CARGILL, INC. d/b/a GRAIN
& OIL SEED SUPPLY CHAIN
JOSEPH C. WILKINSON, JR.
ORDER ON MOTIONS
This is an employment discrimination action brought by Quinton O’Neal against his
former employer, Cargill, Inc. Plaintiff’s remaining claims in this action are for race
discrimination, retaliation and hostile work environment under 42 U.S.C. § 1981. This
matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge for all proceedings and entry of
judgment in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) upon written consent of all parties. Record
Doc. No. 13.
Cargill filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that O’Neal cannot make out
a prima facie case of any of his claims or, if he can, that he cannot produce any evidence
either to rebut Cargill’s legitimate, non-discriminatory, non-retaliatory reasons for
terminating him. The motion is fully supported by two affidavits, verified documents from
plaintiff’s personnel file, plaintiff’s answers to interrogatories and responses to requests for
admissions, his Charge of Discrimination filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission, his deposition transcript and a Statement of Undisputed Material Facts.
Record Doc. No. 18. Cargill received leave to file a supplemental memorandum in support
of its motion. Record Doc. Nos. 28, 31, 32.
Local Rule 7.5 requires that memoranda in opposition to a motion be filed and
served no later than eight days before the noticed submission date. No memorandum in
opposition to defendant’s motion for summary judgment, submitted for decision on
December 21, 2016, without oral argument, has been timely submitted, nor has plaintiff
sought an extension of the deadline for filing an opposition. Instead, two days after the
deadline for filing his opposition, O’Neal filed a motion to continue the trial date and
extend the discovery deadline, which plaintiff states defendant opposes. Record Doc. No.
25. O’Neal’s motion was marked deficient by the Clerk of Court. Although O’Neal has
not cured the deficiency and Cargill therefore has not filed an opposition memorandum,
defendant did argue in its supplemental memorandum in support of its summary judgment
motion that plaintiff’s motion to continue should not be granted. The court finds that an
opposition memorandum is unnecessary.
The Clerk is DIRECTED to remove the
deficiency and file plaintiff’s motion. IT IS ORDERED that plaintiff’s motion to continue
is DENIED for the following reasons.
Motions to continue trial are directed to the broad discretion of the court. Clinton
v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 706-07 (1997); In re FEMA Trailer Formaldahyde [sic] Prods. Liab.
Litig., 628 F.3d 157, 161 (5th Cir. 2010) (citing United States v. Stalnaker, 571 F.3d 428,
439 (5th Cir. 2009); United States v. German, 486 F.3d 849, 854 (5th Cir. 2007); Streber
v. Hunter, 221 F.3d 701, 736 (5th Cir. 2000)). In making this decision, the court looks to
the totality of the circumstances, including such factors as the amount of time available, the
moving party’s role in shortening the time needed, the likelihood of prejudice from denial
of the motion, the facts of the particular case, the complexity of the case, and all of the
demands on counsel’s time and the court’s. Stalnaker, 571 F.3d at 439; Streber, 221 F.3d
In addition, a trial date set in a Rule 16 scheduling order, as in this case, Record Doc.
No. 14, may be modified only upon a showing of “good cause,” Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4),
involving the evaluation of four factors; i.e., the explanation for the requested extension,
its importance, prejudice resulting to the opposing party, and the availability of a
continuance to cure the prejudice. Fahim v. Marriott Hotel Servs., Inc., 551 F.3d 344, 348
(5th Cir. 2008); Sw. Bell Tel. Co. v. City of El Paso, 346 F.3d 541, 546 (5th Cir. 2003)
(citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)); S&W Enters., L.L.C. v. SouthTrust Bank of Ala., NA, 315
F.3d 533, 535 (5th Cir. 2003).
Weighing these factors in this case, I find that O’Neal has not shown good cause for
the continuance. In addition to seeking a continuance of the trial date, he seeks to extend
the discovery deadline to permit him to depose at least one more witness and to propound
additional written discovery that may lead to additional depositions. This is not a
complicated case. O’Neal provides no reasonable explanation for not having obtained such
discovery before the December 12, 2016 discovery deadline, which has been in place since
the scheduling order was entered on April 6, 2016. Ample time to conduct this discovery
has already been provided. In the absence of any explanation, the requested continuance
is not important and the likelihood of prejudice to plaintiff from denying the motion is
minimal. However, granting the motion would be highly prejudicial to Cargill, which has
complied with its obligations under the court’s scheduling order and the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure and filed a well-supported, timely motion for summary judgment. A
continuance would not cure the prejudice to defendant.
Although O’Neal does not specifically say so in his motion, it seems apparent that
he wants more time to find evidence to oppose Cargill’s summary judgment motion.
Plaintiff’s motion thus may also be construed as one under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d) seeking
additional time to take discovery so that he can “present facts essential to justify [his]
opposition” to the summary judgment motion. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d). However, O’Neal has
failed to show “by affidavit or declaration that, for specified reasons,” he needs additional
discovery, as required by the Rule. Id. (emphasis added). He has presented no affidavits,
declarations or specific facts to support his motion to continue. Plaintiff does not state what
any of the proposed additional witnesses might say or what the proposed additional
discovery requests might reveal. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that his motion to
continue the trial date and extend the discovery deadline is DENIED.
Defendant’s summary judgment motion is therefore deemed to be unopposed, and,
further, it appearing to the court that the motion has merit, IT IS ORDERED that the
motion is GRANTED for the following reasons.
Cargill’s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts is uncontroverted and the wellsupported facts therein are deemed admitted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1); Local Rule 56.2. The
competent summary judgment evidence establishes that Cargill terminated plaintiff’s
employment for legitimate, non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reasons. O’Neal had
previously received numerous disciplinary warnings. In the incident that led directly to his
termination for insubordination and threatening a supervisor, O’Neal refused to cooperate
and communicate with his supervisor about a possible safety violation by plaintiff during
his shift. Instead of responding to his supervisor’s questions, O’Neal physically threatened
his supervisor. Plaintiff has proffered no evidence to carry his burden under Section 1981
to rebut defendant’s legitimate reasons and establish that they were a pretext for race
discrimination and/or retaliation. Morris v. Town of Indep., 827 F.3d 396, 400 (5th Cir.
2016) (citing McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802-05 (1973); Burton v.
Freescale Semiconductor, Inc., 798 F.3d 222, 227 (5th Cir. 2015); Davis v. Dallas Area
Rapid Transit, 383 F.3d 309, 316-17 (5th Cir. 2004)); Roberson v. Alltel Info. Servs., 373
F.3d 647, 651, 655 (5th Cir. 2004).
As to plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim, Cargill has provided the affidavit
of its Plant Superintendent, Michael Bates, stating that O’Neal was never disciplined or
harassed by anyone because of his race. O’Neal has proffered no evidence to carry his
burden under Section 1981 to establish a prima facie case of a racially hostile work
environment. Minnis v. Bd. of Supervisors, 620 F. App’x 215, 220-21 (5th Cir. 2015)
(citing Hernandez v. Yellow Transp., Inc., 670 F.3d 644, 651 (5th Cir. 2012)); Hill v. Cleco
Corp., 541 F. App’x 343, 346 (5th Cir. 2013) (citing Hernandez, 670 F.3d at 651; Ramsey
v. Henderson, 286 F.3d 264, 268 (5th Cir. 2002)).
“[A] complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving
party’s case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial and mandates the entry of
summary judgment for the moving party.” Winslow-Harris v. Donahoe, 490 F. App’x 658,
659 (5th Cir. 2012) (quotations omitted) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323
(1986); United States ex rel. Farmer v. City of Houston, 523 F.3d 333, 337 (5th Cir. 2008)).
Accordingly, defendant’s motion for summary judgment is granted.
For all of the foregoing reasons, IT IS ORDERED that plaintiff’s motion to continue
trial is DENIED, Cargill’s motion for summary judgment is GRANTED and O’Neal’s
claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE, plaintiff to bear all
costs. Judgment will be separately entered.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this _________ day of December, 2016.
JOSEPH C. WILKINSON, JR.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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