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Simpson v. Alcorn State University

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

June 13, 2014

ALVIN T. SIMPSON, PLAINTIFF
v.
ALCORN STATE UNIVERSITY; M. CHRISTOPHER BROWN, INDIVIDUALLY AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; SAMUEL WHITE, INDIVIDUALLY AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; ROBERT Z. CARR, JR., INDIVIDUALLY AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; MALINDA BUTLER, INDIVIDUALLY AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; DORIS E. MCGOWAN, INDIVIDUALLY AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING; MISSISSIPPI INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING, DEFENDANTS

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For Alvin T. Simpson, Plaintiff: Bethany Brantley Johnson, LEAD ATTORNEY, STRATEGIC EMPLOYMENT SOLUTIONS, LLC, Jackson, MS.

For Alcorn State University, M. Christopher Brown, individually and official capacity, Samuel White, individually and official capacity, Robert Z. Carr, Jr., individually and official capacity, Malinda Butler individually and official capacity, Doris E. McGowan, individually and official capacity, Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Learning, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, Defendants: Robert L. Gibbs, LEAD ATTORNEY, Gibbs Whitwell PLLC, Jackson, MS.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Tom S. Lee, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

From 1991 until his resignation in May 2012, plaintiff Alvin T. Simpson was

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employed as a professor in the Department of Education and Psychology of Alcorn State University (ASU) pursuant to a series of contracts with the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL). From 2008 to 2011, he also served as interim Chair of the Department of Education and Psychology. Simpson filed the present action on May 10, 2013 against ASU, IHL and a number of ASU officials and employees, asserting putative claims for disability discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794; violation of the Family Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq. ; violation of his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment; retaliation for the exercise of his First Amendment rights; for conspiracy ostensibly in violation of 42 U.S.C. § § 1983 and 1985; and for breach of contract.[1] The case is presently before the court on a motion by all defendants to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment.

Despite having requested and received two extensions of time to respond to the motion, plaintiff failed to timely respond to the motion. He did finally file a response, two weeks beyond the latest deadline established by the court at his request; and he did so without seeking a further extension or leave to file his response out of time. Given these circumstances, defendants have understandably moved to strike plaintiff's response. It is a reasonable request, and the court certainly would be well justified in striking the response. However, since nothing in the response alters this court's view that dismissal is in order, the court will deny the motion to strike.

Plaintiff's Complaint

The allegations of plaintiff's complaint relate to troubles that began in mid 2009, after he reported to an IHL auditor that defendant Doris McGowan, an ASU employee, had forged his signature on a payment authorization to pay $5,000 to ASU employee Doris Gary (resulting in Gary's termination in July 2009 but not McGowan's). Plaintiff alleges that McGowan and her husband began engaging in retaliatory conduct toward him. In October 2009, plaintiff made an official complaint to ASU about the McGowans' conduct; but ASU took no action in response to his complaint and therefore, on October 14, 2009, he reported the McGowans' " criminal activity" to the Attorney General's office.

At some point subsequent to Gary's termination, defendant Robert Carr was installed as Dean of the Department of Education and Psychology. Plaintiff alleges that although Carr knew of the reason for Gary's termination and had been specifically advised by IHL that she was ineligible for rehire, Carr nevertheless rehired her in September 2010 as an adjunct professor without seeking input from plaintiff, for whom he expressed disdain for having been a whistleblower. Plaintiff states that he complained about Carr's " unlawful conduct," and that ...


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