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Galle v. Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

August 19, 2014

STEVEN EDWARD GALLE APPELLANT
v.
ISLE OF CAPRI CASINOS, INC.; RIVERBOAT CORPORATION OF MISSISSIPPI A/K/A ISLE OF CAPRI CASINO-HOTEL BILOXI A/K/A DIVISION AND PROPERTY OF ISLE OF CAPRI CASINOS, INC.; JAMES B. PERRY, AS CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, ISLE OF CAPRI CASINOS, INC., AND JAMES B. PERRY, INDIVIDUALLY; VIRGINIA MCDOWELL, AS PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, ISLE OF CAPRI CASINOS, INC., AND VIRGINIA MCDOWELL, INDIVIDUALLY; LYNN BANKS, AS CORPORATE DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES, ISLE OF CAPRI CASINOS, INC., AND LYNN BANKS, INDIVIDUALLY; DOUG SHIPLEY, AS GENERAL MANAGER OF RIVERBOAT CORPORATION OF MISSISSIPPI A/K/A ISLE CASINO-HOTEL BILOXI A/K/A DIVISION AND PROPERTY OF ISLE OF CAPRI CASINOS, INC., AND DOUG SHIPLEY, INDIVIDUALLY; MICHAEL (MIKE) CRAY, AS DIRECTOR OF CASINO OPERATIONS, RIVERBOAT CORPORATION OF MISSISSIPPI A/K/A ISLE CASINO-HOTEL BILOXI A/K/A DIVISION AND PROPERTY OF ISLE OF CAPRI CASINOS, INC., AND MICHAEL (MIKE) CRAY, INDIVIDUALLY; AND BELL KESSLER, AS SENIOR DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES, RIVERBOAT CORPORATION OF MISSISSIPPI A/K/A ISLE CASINO-HOTEL BILOXI, A/K/A DIVISION AND PROPERTY OF ISLE OF CAPRI CASINOS, INC., AND BELL KESSLER, INDIVIDUALLY APPELLEES

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/30/2012

HARRISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. LAWRENCE PAUL BOURGEOIS JR.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: STEVEN EDWARD GALLE (PRO SE)

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES: MICHAEL F. CAVANAUGH

BEFORE LEE, C.J., BARNES AND FAIR, JJ.

FAIR, J.

¶1. After Steven Galle was fired by the Isle of Capri Casino, he brought a suit against it and various people in its employ, alleging numerous causes of action. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment contending that Galle could not sustain the suit because he was an at-will employee. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment on all of Galle's claims. We conclude that this was error, as it is uncontested that Galle was terminated after reporting to the Mississippi Gaming Commission that the Casino had him managing the poker room without a required license. Moreover, the trial court erred in going beyond the motion for summary judgment to dismiss Galle's other causes of action.

FACTS

¶2. Galle started working in the poker room of the Isle of Capri Casino in December 2005. Galle had some prior experience and, in his own words, was a "natural." He was quickly promoted, becoming the poker room manager by 2008. However, that position required a "key employee license" from the Mississippi Gaming Commission. Galle was denied the key license because he failed to disclose a 1994 arrest on the license application. Galle could continue to work in the poker room without the key license, but he could not hold a key position; i.e., Galle could no longer be the manager. He was nominally demoted to supervisor.

¶3. In early 2011, Galle was issued a new ID badge by the casino that identified his position as "manager." According to Galle, he brought this to his superiors' attention, but he was told to wear it anyway, so he did. A few months later, an inspector from the Gaming Commission noticed Galle's badge. The Commission sent a letter to the casino alleging that Galle was illegally acting as manager and demanding that it remove him from that role. The Casino subsequently fired Galle, for allegedly misrepresenting his position.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶4. "W e employ a de novo standard of review of a trial court's grant or denial of summary judgment and examine all the evidentiary matters before it . . . ." Davis v. Hoss, 869 So.2d 397, 401 (¶10) (Miss. 2004). Summary judgment is proper when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." M.R.C.P. 56(c).

¶5."The evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Davis, 869 So.2d at 401 (¶10). "[A]n adverse party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleadings, but his response . . . must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." M.R.C.P. 56(e). Furthermore:

[W]hen a party, opposing summary judgment on a claim or defense as to which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial, fails to make a showing sufficient to establish an essential element of the claim or defense, then all other facts are immaterial, ...

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