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Thompson v. Anderson

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

June 16, 2017

LATOYA REDD THOMPSON PLAINTIFF
v.
CLEVELAND ANDERSON, et al., DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          DANIEL P. JORDAN, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This § 1983 case is before the Court on three pending motions: Plaintiff Latoya Redd Thompson's Motion for Reconsideration [22] and her Motion for Hearing [27], and Defendants' Motion to Strike [24]. For the reasons that follow, the motion for reconsideration is granted, and the motion to strike and motion for hearing are denied.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         As recounted in the prior Order [19] of the Court, Plaintiff Latoya Redd Thompson filed this lawsuit against Canton Municipal Utilities (“CMU”) and three of its commissioners after she was terminated from her position as a staff attorney without notice and a hearing. The Complaint alleged no other wrongdoing. Along with her Complaint, Thompson filed a motion for a preliminary injunction seeking reinstatement to her staff-attorney position. But the next day, the parties agreed that Thompson would be “reinstated to the position of CMU Staff Attorney with all prior rights, responsibilities and benefits.” Agreed Order [5]. The agreement mooted the then-pending motion for preliminary injunctive relief. Id.

         Once Thompson was reinstated, Defendants moved to dismiss the remaining claims, arguing that they were moot. The Court agreed as to the claim for an injunction preventing further deprivation of her rights, but denied the motion regarding the claim for declaratory relief. Order [19] at 5-6. In particular, the Court noted that, since Thompson's return to CMU, the CMU handbook was amended to make clear that CMU employees are entitled to notice and a hearing prior to termination. Id. The Court concluded that “[u]nder these circumstances, Thompson's claim that she may again be subjected to termination without notice and a hearing in violation of her constitutional rights is ‘too speculative to avoid mooting the case.'” Id. at 6 (quoting Sossamon v. Lone Star State of Tex., 560 F.3d 316, 325 (5th Cir. 2009), aff'd sub nom. Sossamon v. Texas, 563 U.S. 277 (2011)).

         On May 12, 2017, Thompson filed her motion for reconsideration, asking the Court to reinstate her claim for injunctive relief. Defendants responded with a motion to strike Thompson's motion. Finally, Thompson filed a motion asking the Court to “set a hearing to allow Plaintiff to call witnesses and present evidence in support of her motion for injunctive and declaratory relief.” Mot. [27] at 1. The Court is prepared to rule on all three pending motions.

         II. Analysis

         A. Motion for Reconsideration

         In her motion for reconsideration, Thompson complains about issues that are not directly related to the injunctive-relief claim she asks the Court to reinstate. It is therefore important to specify the claims Thompson originally asserted. In her Complaint, the only wrongful act Thompson mentioned was the termination of her employment without notice and a hearing. See Compl. [1] at 3-4. Consistent with her factual averments, Thompson sought:

A. A declaration that [Defendants] violated her rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when they terminated her without proper notice and a hearing;
B. A declaration that Latoya Redd Thompson shall be reinstated to her position as staff attorney[;]
C. A temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction enjoining defendants from interfering with Latoya Redd Thompson's constitutional rights when she returns to her position as staff attorney[;]
D. An award to Plaintiff of attorneys' fees and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988; and E. and [sic] such other and further [relief] as this Court deems appropriate.

Id. at 4-5. The case thus sought redress from an alleged procedural-due-process violation related to the termination of employment without notice and a hearing. While Thompson generally sought an injunction against violation of her “constitutional rights” upon reinstatement, that prayer must be read in the context of the rest of the Complaint, which focuses solely and exclusively on the procedural-due-process violation she claims she suffered. Id. at 5. So as pleaded, the claim for ...


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