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Scott v. Corrections Corporation

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

October 7, 2014

JACKIE SCOTT, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA; TALLAHATCHIE COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; BOBBIE PHILLIPS; J. WARDLOW; CHARLOTTE BURNS; MIRANDA RANKIN; and GINA ROBINSON, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DEBRA M. BROWN, District Judge.

This employment discrimination action is brought by Plaintiff Jackie Scott against her former employer, Defendant Corrections Corporation of America d/b/a Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility.[1] Before the Court are Plaintiff's motion to continue [81], Defendant's[2] motion for summary judgment [56], Defendant's motion for leave to file a reply in support of its motion for summary judgment [67], and Defendant's four motions in limine [69, 71, 73, 75]. For the reasons that follow, the motion for summary judgment is granted, and the motions for leave, in limine, and to continue are denied as moot.

I

Motion for Leave to File Reply

Defendant filed its motion for summary judgment on June 2, 2014. Doc. #56. On June 16, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion to extend the time to file a response to the motion for summary judgment from June 19, 2014, through and until July 3, 2014. Doc. #60. On June 19, 2014, Plaintiff filed her response to the motion for summary judgment. Doc. #64. Because Plaintiff filed her response within the time allowed, the Court denied her motion for extension as moot. Doc. #66.

On July 16, 2014, Defendant filed a motion for leave to file a reply out of time. Doc. #67. The proposed reply was attached as an exhibit to the motion. Doc. #67-1. In its motion, Defendant submits that "the undersigned counsel responsible for drafting and filing of the reply brief was hospitalized unexpectedly shortly prior to the deadline and has been unable [to] file the reply memorandum since being discharged." Doc. #67. Plaintiff opposes the motion on the grounds that "[a]n associate counsel could have and should have filed [the reply]" and "[s]uch a delay may not be excused as a mistake or unintentional oversight." Doc. #68.

Upon consideration, the Court concludes that the summary judgment motion may be decided without recourse to a reply brief. Accordingly, because the summary judgment motion is granted below, the motion for leave will be denied as moot.

II

Motion for Summary Judgment Standard

"Summary judgment is appropriate when there are no genuine issues as to any material facts, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Norwegian Bulk Transp. A/S v. Int'l Marine Terminals P'ship, 520 F.3d 409, 411 (5th Cir. 2008) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986)). To award summary judgment, "[a] court must be satisfied that no reasonable trier of fact could find for the nonmoving party or, in other words, that the evidence favoring the nonmoving party is insufficient to enable a reasonable jury to return a verdict in her favor." Id. at 411-12 (internal quotation marks omitted). To this end, "[t]he moving party bears the burden of establishing that there are no genuine issues of material fact." Id. at 412.

"If, as here, the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof at trial, the moving party may demonstrate that it is entitled to summary judgment by submitting affidavits or other similar evidence negating the nonmoving party's claim, or by pointing out to the district court the absence of evidence necessary to support the nonmoving party's case." Morris v. Covan World Wide Moving, Inc., 144 F.3d 377, 380 (5th Cir. 1998). If the moving party makes the necessary demonstration, "the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to show that summary judgment is inappropriate." Id. In making this showing, "the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and by her own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Cotroneo v. Shaw Env't & Infrastructure, Inc., 639 F.3d 186, 191-92 (5th Cir. 2011) (internal punctuation omitted). When considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court "resolve[s] factual controversies in favor of the nonmoving party." Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994).

III

Relevant Facts

On June 12, 2008, Plaintiff Jackie Scott submitted an application for employment to work as an "Academic Instructor" at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility ("TCCF") run by Defendant Corrections Corporation of America ("CCA"). Doc. #56-3. On the last page of the employment application, Plaintiff checked a box acknowledging her understanding and agreement to the statement that "any employment with [Defendant] is for an indefinite term and can be terminated, with or without cause, at any time at the discretion of either the company or myself." Id. Plaintiff began work with Defendant on August 4, 2008. Doc. #56-4.

On August 4, 2008, Plaintiff executed a CCA Code of Conduct Acknowledgment Form in which she acknowledged receiving and reading CCA's Code of Conduct. Doc. #56-2. Of relevance here, page two of the Code of Conduct listed "Integrity, " "Respect, " "Trust" and "Loyalty" as "Guiding Principles." Id. The Code of Conduct also provided that "[a]ny employee who violates the Code of Conduct is subject to disciplinary or corrective action ranging from warnings and reprimands up to and including termination of employment...." Id.

On August 25, 2008, Plaintiff executed an Acceptance form re-affirming her status as an at-will employee. Doc. #56-4.

A. Plaintiff's Disciplinary History

During Plaintiff's employment, she worked two class shifts: a morning shift from approximately 7:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.; and an afternoon shift from approximately 1:00 p.m. until "4:00... or 5:00... or whatever time the inmates would be released from the education building back to their units." Doc. #56-1 at 165-66.

On May 12, 2009, Plaintiff received a "Letter of Instruction" from Gina Robinson, Instructional Supervisor, or "Principal, " at TCCF. Doc. #56-5. The letter provided, in relevant part:

According to Policy every employee is required to call their direct supervisor two hours prior to their assigned shift, or as soon as possible if they are not able to report to work.
On Monday, May 4, 2009 you were scheduled to report to your post by 7:00 a.m. You signed in on the Education Roster at 7:04a.m. On May 12, 2009 you arrived in Education at 7:12 and signed in at 7:00 No call is on record as missed to the Instructor Supervisor, Principal, or the facility. For future reference you are advised to call the Instructor Supervisor, Principal, or the facility in this order. As your supervisor, I encourage you to take corrective action. Your failure to do so could result in a formal review by the Administration.

Id.

When presented with the May 12 letter, Plaintiff informed Robinson that she previously asked her former supervisor, "Mr. Reaves, "[3] for permission to arrive "a few minutes" late, and that Reaves approved the request. Doc. #56-1 at 118. Based on her previous agreement with Reaves, Plaintiff refused to sign the letter of instruction. Id. at 121.

On May 13, 2009, Robinson issued Plaintiff an Employee Problem Solving Notice ("PSN"). Doc. #56-6. The PSN recommended that Plaintiff be issued a written reprimand for signing into work at 7:05 a.m., five minutes after the time she was scheduled to work. Id. The notice also asserted that Plaintiff "had a counseling session earlier this week regarding a problem with this issue." Id. On June 9, 2009, Dwayne Blair, acting as "Warden/Administrator/FSC Department Head, " followed Robinson's suggestion and issued Plaintiff a written reprimand. Id.

On June 16, 2010, Robinson issued Plaintiff a second PSN recommending a second written reprimand. Doc. #56-7. As grounds for the reprimand, the June 16 PSN recited:

On Wednesday at 7:15a.m. June 16, 2010 Instructor Supervisor, G. Robinson discussed use of PTO [paid time off] with J. Scott. She was advised to complete a PTO slip for 4 hours yesterday and was approved to leave at 11:00 a.m. Mrs. Scott stated she stayed until 13:00 (against request of supervisor) and needed to leave again at 13:00 on June 17. Mrs. Scott refused to complete the slip and stated. "She would just have to talk to me about this later." Mrs. Scott abuses leaving early without submitting PTO as requested. She assumes her need to leave early should always be approved if she has worked a 5 hour shift. ...

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