United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
STARRETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment
 filed by Plaintiff Joseph Edward Parker and the Motion
for Summary Judgment  filed by Defendant Leaf River
Cellulose, LLC. After considering the submissions of the
parties, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds
that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment  is well
taken and should be granted. The Court further finds that
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment  is not well
taken and should be denied.
Joseph Edward Parker (“Plaintiff”) filed this
suit on January 23, 2014, against Defendant Leaf River
Cellulose, LLC (“Defendant”), claiming that he
was wrongfully discharged in violation of Mississippi law.
Plaintiff is a resident of Mississippi, and Defendant is a
Delaware limited liability company. This Court has diversity
jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
began working for Defendant at its plant in New Augusta,
Mississippi, in October 2008. (See Plaintiff
Affidavit [69-1] at ¶ 2.) While employed at the plant,
Plaintiff and other employees utilized a parking area which
has no gate, fence, or security station, and which “is
surrounded on all sides by roadways and open fields.”
(See Id. at ¶ 6.) At the entrances of this lot,
signs are posted which state, “THIS PARKING AREA IS FOR
THE EXCLUSIVE USE OF GPEMPLOYEES AND THOSE CONDUCTING BUSINESS
WITH GP. WEAPONS OF ANY KIND ARE PROHIBITED, TO INCLUDE THE
CARRYING OF A PISTOL OR REVOLVER.” (Id. at
December 12, 2013, Defendant received a report that Plaintiff
had a firearm in his locked personal vehicle, and Plaintiff
granted permission for his vehicle to be searched.
(Id. at ¶ 3.) After finding the firearm in the
vehicle, Defendant suspended Plaintiff for violating its
firearm policy and was ordered to leave the premises.
(See Id. at ¶ 4.) Some time later, Plaintiff
approached his supervisor, Don Garner (“Garner”),
about the situation because he “was worried about the
outcome of his job.” (Garner Affidavit [69-12] at
¶ 4.) Plaintiff showed Garner Miss. Code Ann. §
45-9-55, which prevents employers from “prohibiting a
person from . . . storing a firearm in a locked vehicle in
any parking lot, parking garage, or other designated parking
area” unless “access is restricted or limited
through the use of a gate, security station or other means .
. . .” Miss. Code Ann. § 45-9-55(1)-(2). Upon
becoming aware of the situation and this provision of
Mississippi law, Garner contacted the head of security for
Defendant and made him aware of the potential legal issue.
(See Garner Affidavit [69-12] at ¶ 5.)
December 13, 2013, Plaintiff was terminated from his
filed suit on January 23, 2014, and this Court dismissed
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on December
19, 2014, on the basis that Defendant was immune from suit
under § 45-9-55 and under Mississippi's at-will
employment doctrine. (See Order .) The Fifth
Circuit originally affirmed the dismissal, but reversed it on
September 1, 2016, following the answer by the Mississippi
Supreme Court of a certified question in a case involving the
same issue. (See USCA Opinion .) The case was
then remanded back to this Court for further proceedings.
Standard of Review
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that “[t]he court
shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “Where the burden of production at
trial ultimately rests on the nonmovant, the movant must
merely demonstrate an absence of evidentiary support in the
record for the nonmovant's case.” Cuadra v.
Houston Indep. Sch. Dist., 626 F.3d 808, 812 (5th Cir.
2010) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). The
nonmovant must then “come forward with specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Id. “An issue is material if its resolution
could affect the outcome of the action.” Sierra
Club, Inc. v. Sandy Creek Energy Assocs., L.P., 627 F.3d
134, 138 (5th Cir. 2010) (quoting Daniels v. City of
Arlington, Tex., 246 F.3d 500, 502 (5th Cir. 2001)).
“An issue is ‘genuine' if the evidence is
sufficient for a reasonable [fact-finder] to return a verdict
for the nonmoving party.” Cuadra, 626 F.3d at
812 (citation omitted).
Court is not permitted to make credibility determinations or
weigh the evidence. Deville v. Marcantel, 567 F.3d
156, 164 (5th Cir. 2009) (citing Turner v. Baylor
Richardson Med. Ctr., 476 F.3d 337, 343 (5th Cir.
2007)). When deciding whether a genuine fact issue exists,
“the court must view the facts and the inferences to be
drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party.” Sierra Club, 627 F.3d at 138. However,
“[c]onclusional allegations and denials, speculation,
improbable inferences, unsubstantiated assertions, and
legalistic argumentation do not adequately substitute for
specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial.”
Oliver v. Scott, 276 F.3d 736, 744 (5th Cir. 2002)
(citation omitted). Summary judgment is mandatory
“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.” Brown v. Offshore
Specialty Fabricators, Inc., 663 F.3d 759, 766 (5th Cir.
2011) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986)).
of the facts in this case are undisputed, both Motions for
Summary Judgment  turn on the interpretation of Miss.
Code Ann. § 45-9-55(2). Therefore, the Court begins its
Interpretation of Miss. Code ...