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Cochran v. Tri-State Truck Center, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

February 19, 2014

AUDREY COCHRAN, Plaintiff,
v.
TRI-STATE TRUCK CENTER, INC., Defendant.

ORDER

DANIEL P. JORDON, III, District Judge.

This employment-discrimination case is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [37]. Plaintiff responded in opposition. The Court finds that Defendant's motion should be granted because Plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of retaliatory discrimination.

I. Facts and Procedural History

Plaintiff, Audrey Cochran, began working for Defendant, Tri-State Trucking, in September 2007 as a scanning clerk. Pl.'s Compl. [1] at ¶ 6. Tri-State then promoted Cochran to the position of accounts-payable clerk in March of 2010. Def.'s Mem. Supp. Summ. J. [38] at 2. But on March 1, 2012, Tri-State terminated Cochran, claiming that her work contained numerous errors. Id. at 2-3. Tri-State introduced evidence of the alleged errors, insisting such examples are "only a sampling" of what occurred during Cochran's employment as the accounts-payable clerk. Id. at 6 (citing Ex. K).

Cochran counters that her termination occurred because she opposed racial discrimination against a co-worker, Angela Patrick. Pl.'s Mem. Opp. Summ. J. [40] at 3. Ms. Patrick filed two EEOC claims against Tri-State, and Cochran maintains that Tri-State subsequently instructed her not to associate with Ms. Patrick while at work. Id. Cochran states that she and Ms. Patrick were "good friends, " and that she "voiced her opinion" that Ms. Patrick should have been given the opportunity to work in a more senior position at the company. Id. She further believes that Tri-State failed to promote Ms. Patrick due to her race. Id.

Aggrieved by her termination, Cochran filed a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC alleging retaliation. The EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter, and Cochran initiated this lawsuit on December 17, 2012. Her complaint alleges (1) unlawful retaliation in violation of Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981; (2) negligent and/or intentional infliction of emotional distress; and (3) wrongful termination. Defendant seeks summary judgment on all claims. The Court has personal and subject-matter jurisdiction.

II. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is warranted under Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when evidence reveals no genuine dispute regarding any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The rule "mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a sufficient showing to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).

The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Id. at 323. The non-moving party must then go beyond the pleadings and designate "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Id. at 324. Conclusory allegations, speculation, unsubstantiated assertions, and legalistic arguments are not an adequate substitute for specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick James of Wash., 276 F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir. 2002); Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (en banc); SEC v. Recile, 10 F.3d 1093, 1097 (5th Cir. 1993).

When reviewing the evidence, factual controversies are to be resolved in favor of the nonmovant, "but only when... both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory facts." Little, 37 F.3d at 1075. If such contradictory facts exist, the court may "not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence." Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods. Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000).

III. Analysis

A. Conceded and Abandoned Claims

Cochran concedes that her claim for intentional and/or negligent infliction of emotional distress is not supported by applicable law. Pl.'s Mem. Opp. Summ. J. [40] at 20. She also admits that summary judgment should be granted as to her ...


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