Canaski et al v. Mid Mississippi Properties, Inc. et al
Memorandum Opinion and Order Granting Defendant Joe Lacey and Derrick Scoggins' Motion for Summary Judgment 51 . Signed by District Judge Halil S. Ozerden on January 17, 2017. (BGL)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
JENNIFER CANASKI, BRITTANY PIAZZA,
AND PAMELA NECAISE
CIVIL NO.: 1:15CV344-HSO-JCG
MID MISSISSIPPI PROPERTIES, INC.,
JOE LACEY, AND DERRICK SCOGGINS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING
DEFENDANT JOE LACEY AND DERRICK SCOGGINS’
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 
BEFORE THE COURT is Defendants Joe Lacey and Derrick Scoggins’
Motion for Summary Judgment . Plaintiffs elected not to file a formal response
to Defendants’ Motion. Response . For the reasons that follow, the Court finds
that Defendants’ Motion should granted.
On or about February 6, 2014, Defendant Mid Mississippi Properties, Inc.
(“Mid Mississippi”) completed its purchase of the Red Zone, a restaurant located in
Diamondhead, Mississippi. Compl.  at 2-3. On the night of February 6, 2014,
Defendants Joe Lacey (“Lacey”) and Derrick Scoggins (“Scoggins”), the owners of
Mid Mississippi, threw a party for their employees to celebrate the purchase. Id. at
3. At that time, Plaintiffs Jennifer Canaski (“Canaski”), Brittany Piazza (“Piazza”),
and Pamela Necaise (“Necaise”) (collectively “Plaintiffs) were employees of the Red
Zone. Id. at 3-7.
On October 16, 2015, Plaintiffs filed their Complaint  against Defendants
Mid Mississippi, Lacey, and Scoggins asserting claims of “sexual harassment and
discrimination” in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §
2000e, et seq. (“Title VII”), and “state law claims.” Compl.  at 1.
Lacey and Scoggins (“Defendants”) filed their Motion for Summary Judgment
 on August 15, 2016. Defendants contend that they are entitled to summary
judgment in that Plaintiffs have abandoned their Title VII and negligence claims
against them, and that Plaintiffs’ claims for intentional torts are barred by the oneyear statute of limitations found at Mississippi Code § 15-1-35. Mot. Summ. J. 
at 1-2. In their Response, Plaintiffs simply state that they have elected not to
respond to the Motion. Resp.  at 1.
Summary Judgment Standard
“Summary judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Cox
v. Wal-Mart Stores E., L.P., 755 F.3d 231, 233 (5th Cir. 2014); see Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(a). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, a court “view[s] the evidence
and draw[s] reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party.” Hemphill v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 805 F.3d 535, 538 (5th Cir.
2015) (quoting Cox, 755 F.3d at 233); Maddox v. Townsend & Sons, Inc., 639 F.3d
214, 216 (5th Cir. 2011). Before it can determine that there is no genuine issue for
trial, a court must be satisfied that “the record taken as a whole could not lead a
rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). If the movant carries this burden,
“the nonmovant must go beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts showing
that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069,
1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (en banc); see also Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497
U.S. 871, 888 (1990) (the nonmovant must set forth specific facts to contradict the
specific facts set forth by the movant, general averments are not sufficient).
To rebut a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the opposing
party must show, with “significant probative evidence,” that there exists a genuine
issue of material fact. Hamilton v. Segue Software, Inc., 232 F.3d 473, 477 (5th Cir.
2000). “A genuine dispute of material fact means that evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Royal v. CCC&R
Tres Arboles, LLC, 736 F.3d 396, 400 (5th Cir. 2013) (quotation omitted). An actual
controversy exists “when both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory
facts.” Salazar-Limon v. Houston, 826 F.3d 272, 277 (5th Cir. 2016) (quotation
Plaintiffs have not stated a claim against either Lacey or Scoggins that can
survive summary judgment.
Plaintiffs’ Title VII claims against Lacey and Scoggins should be dismissed
because “[o]nly ‘employers,’ not individuals acting in their individual capacity who
do not otherwise meet the definition of ‘employers,’ can be liable under [T]itle VII.”
Johnson v. TCB Construction Co., Inc., 334 F. App’x 666, 669 (5th Cir. 2009) (citing
Grant v. Lone Star Co., 21 F.3d 649, 652 (5th Cir. 1994)). “Further, a plaintiff is not
entitled to maintain a Title VII action against both an employer and its agent in an
official capacity.” McNeil v. Quality Logistics Systems, Inc., Cause No. 3:15cv927CWR-FKB, 2016 WL 6999483, *3 (S.D. Miss. Nov. 30, 2016) (citations and
quotations omitted); see also Indest v. Freeman Decorating, Inc., 164 F.3d 258, 262
(5th Cir. 1999) (“outside of an action against an officer personally, plaintiff does not
have an action against both the corporation and its officer in an official capacity”).
It appears from the record that Plaintiffs have abandoned their claims against
Lacey and Scoggins individually. Resp. in Opp’n 1 at 1 (“Plaintiffs are not
seeking to hold the Defendants directly responsible under Title VII.”).
Plaintiffs’ state law negligence claims should be dismissed because they are
barred by “the exclusivity provision of the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Act”
(“MWCA”) found at Mississippi Code Annotated § 71-3-9. McNeil, 2016 WL
6999483 at *4 (citations omitted); see Bowden v. Young, 120 So. 3d 971, 976-78
(Miss. 2013). “Construing Mississippi state law, our federal courts have been
universal on this point.” McNeil, 2016 WL 6999483 at *4 (citations omitted).
Plaintiffs also appear to have abandoned their negligence claims. Resp. in Opp’n
Plaintiffs’ Response in Opposition  was filed in response to Defendants’
previous Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss .
 at 3 (for a claim to fall outside the MWCA, a plaintiff must assert “the actions
of the employer went beyond negligence, gross negligence, or recklessness”).
Finally, Plaintiffs’ claims for intentional torts and defamation should be
dismissed because they are barred by the applicable one-year statute of limitations,
Mississippi Code Annotated § 15-1-35. McNeil, 2016 WL 6999483 at *4 (citing
Lynch v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., 909 So. 2d 1289, 1292 (Miss. Ct. App. 2005)).
Plaintiffs filed suit on October 16, 2015, more than one year after any alleged
intentional conduct. See Canaski Dep. [51-1] at 18-20 (March 12, 2014); Piazza Dep.
[51-2] at 26-28 (May 2014); Necaise Dep. [51-3] at 18-19, 22-24 (sometime after
March 18, 2014, “probably like September” 2014). Also, Plaintiffs did not respond to
Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment, did not provide any summary
judgment evidence that any intentional tort or defamation occurred within one year
prior to filing the Complaint, and appear to have abandoned their intentional tort
and defamation claims.
Having considered the parties’ submissions, the record, and all relevant legal
authority, the Court is of the opinion that Defendants Lacey and Scoggins are
entitled to judgment as a matter of law as to Plaintiffs’ claims against them.
To the extent the Court has not addressed any of the parties’ arguments, it
has considered them and determined that they would not alter the result. The
Court will grant Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment , and Plaintiffs’
claims against Defendants Lacey and Scoggins will be dismissed with prejudice.
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Defendants Joe
Lacey and Derrick Scoggins’ Motion for Summary Judgment  is GRANTED and
Plaintiffs Jennifer Canaski, Brittany Piazza, and Pamela Necaise’s claims against
Defendants Lacey and Scoggins are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
SO ORDERED this the 17th day of January, 2017.
s/ Halil Suleyman Ozerden
HALIL SULEYMAN OZERDEN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?