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Kidd v. Meridian Public School District

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

June 9, 2014

BARBARA J. KIDD, Plaintiff,
v.
MERIDIAN PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant.

ORDER

DANIEL P. JORDAN, III, District Judge.

This employment-discrimination action is before the Court on motion of Defendant Meridian Public School District for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Plaintiff Barbara J. Kidd has responded in opposition. The Court, having considered the memoranda, submissions, and pertinent authorities, finds that Defendant's motion should be granted.

I. Facts and Procedural History

Plaintiff Barbara Kidd, a black female born in 1955, has a history of employment with the Meridian Public School District dating back to 1999. She served as the public relations director of the District from 1999 until her employment was terminated in 2000. The position remained unoccupied until Kidd resumed the duties from 2009 to 2010, when the District again terminated her employment. Both times Kidd was laid off, she was informed that it was for budgetary reasons.

The position remained vacant during the 2010 school year, but the District decided to reopen the position in 2011 and advertised the vacancy. Kidd once again applied for the publicrelations specialist position, but this time the District selected Elizabeth McDonald, a white female born in 1983. Believing that she was the superior candidate, Kidd lodged a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and filed this suit, alleging that race and age discrimination influenced the District's decision in violation of Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). In addition, Kidd makes a vague allegation that the District's failure to hire her violated its own policies and procedures, affording her relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Finally, Kidd also claims that her 2010 lay off was based on discriminatory reasons, not financial constraints.

The District moved for summary judgment as to all claims. Plaintiff filed a response, but as explained in further detail below, her response is heavy on law and slim on facts, evidence, citations to the record, and legal analysis. Nevertheless, the Court has endeavored to consider the record as a whole and concludes that summary judgment is appropriate.

II. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is warranted under Rule 56(a) 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 showing sufficient 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 (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] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Id. at 323. The nonmoving party must then "go beyond the pleadings" and "designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 324 (citation omitted). In 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 v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994). When 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). Conclusory allegations, speculation, unsubstantiated assertions, and legalistic arguments have never constituted 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, 37 F.3d at 1075; SEC v. Recile, 10 F.3d 1093, 1097 (5th Cir. 1993).

Significant here, the non-movant is required to "submit or identify evidence in the record to show the existence of a genuine issue of material fact as to each element of the cause[s] of action." Malacara v. Garber, 353 F.3d 393, 404 (5th Cir. 2003). The non-movant must also "articulate the precise manner in which the submitted or identified evidence supports his or her claim." Smith ex rel. Estate of Smith v. United States, 391 F.3d 621, 625 (5th Cir. 2004). Although the Court endeavored to consider the record as a whole, to the extent it may have overlooked evidence Plaintiff failed to identify, the Court is under no "duty to sift through the record in search of evidence to support a party's opposition to summary judgment." Jackson v. Cal-Western Packaging Corp., 602 F.3d 374, 379-80 (5th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted); see also Malacara v. Garber, 353 F.3d 393, 405 (5th Cir. 2003) ("When evidence exists in the summary judgment record but the nonmovant fails even to refer to it in the response to the motion for summary judgment, that evidence is not properly before the district court.").

The 2010 amendments to Rule 56 now make this clear. Pursuant to Rule 56(c)(1), a party asserting that a fact "is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by: (A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations..., admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials." (emphasis added). Moreover, Rule 56(c)(3) now states: "Materials Not Cited. The court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record."

III. Analysis

Kidd challenges two employment actions in this suit-her lay off in 2010 and the District's failure to hire her in 2011.

A. Lay Off

Kidd contends that her lay off in 2010 was not due to budgetary cutbacks-as she was told-but was in fact the result of discrimination. Based on a review of Plaintiff's Complaint and Response, it appears that she claims her dismissal was due to race discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. See Pl.'s Comp. [1] ¶¶ 6, 31, 32, 33; Pl.'s Resp. [39] ¶ 4. Section 1981 "protects the equal right of [a]ll persons within the jurisdiction of the United States' to make and enforce contracts' without respect ...


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