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Barnes v. Omega Laboratories, Inc.

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

October 30, 2017

CHAQUITA BARNES PLAINTIFF
v.
OMEGA LABORATORIES, INC. DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DEBRA M. BROWN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are Omega Laboratories, Inc.'s motion for summary judgment, Doc. #54, and motion to continue trial, Doc. #62; and Chaquita Barnes' motion to continue trial, Doc. #66, and “Motion Requesting Additional Time to Amend Pleadings and Respond to Defendant's Summary Judgment Motion, ” Doc. #67.

         I

         Summary Judgment Standard

         Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “[s]ummary judgment is proper only when the record demonstrates that no genuine issue of material fact exists and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Luv N' Care Ltd. v. Groupo Rimar, 844 F.3d 442, 447 (5th Cir. 2016). “A factual issue is genuine if the evidence is sufficient for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party and material if its resolution could affect the outcome of the action.” Burton v. Freescale Semiconductor, Inc., 798 F.3d 222, 226 (5th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks omitted). On a motion for summary judgment, a court must “consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor.” Edwards v. Cont'l Cas. Co., 841 F.3d 360, 363 (5th Cir. 2016).

         In seeking summary judgment, “[t]he moving party bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the record which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Nola Spice Designs, L.L.C. v. Haydel Enters., Inc., 783 F.3d 527, 536 (5th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted). If the moving party satisfies this burden, “the non-moving 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.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). “Where the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof at trial, the moving party satisfies this initial burden by demonstrating an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Celtic Marine Corp. v. James C. Justice Cos., Inc., 760 F.3d 477, 481 (5th Cir. 2014).

         II

         Procedural History

         On June 13, 2016, Chaquita Barnes filed a complaint in this Court against Omega Laboratories, Inc., alleging causes of action for negligence and “defamation and slander” arising from an allegedly erroneous drug test conducted by Omega. Doc. #1. On August 1, 2016, Omega moved to dismiss Barnes' complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Doc. #4. After considering Barnes' response in opposition and Omega's reply, the Court granted Omega's motion to dismiss with respect to Barnes' defamation and slander claims, and to the extent Barnes' negligence claim is based on chain of custody documentation and failure to inform of the risk of false positives. Doc. #53 at 10. However, the Court denied the motion to the extent Barnes' negligence claim is based on inaccurate results and the reporting of inaccurate results. Id. The dismissed claims were dismissed without prejudice to the filing of an amended complaint by Barnes within twenty-one days of the order. Barnes failed to amend the complaint within the allotted time.[1]

         On May 3, 2017, Omega filed a motion for summary judgment on the remaining negligence claim. Doc. #54. Barnes filed no response to the motion within the time allowed under the Court's procedural rules.

         On September 18, 2017, Omega filed a motion to continue the trial in this case now set for November 6, 2017. Doc. #62. On October 12, 2017, following the pre-trial conference held October 6, 2017, Barnes filed a motion to continue trial. Doc. #66. On October 18, 2017, five months after her response to Omega's summary judgment motion was due, Barnes filed a “Motion Requesting Additional Time to Amend Pleadings and Respond to Defendant's Summary Judgment Motion.” Doc. #67. Omega responded in opposition to the motion on October 26, 2017. Doc. #71.

         III

         Factual Background

         On March 29, 2016, Barnes, who was enrolled at Mississippi Delta Community College (“MDCC”), provided a hair sample to Craig Carlock for the purpose of drug testing. Doc. #55-1 at 3-4, 21.[2] Carlock was an agent of Drug Free Schools, which is a separate legal entity that contracted with Omega to provide forensic laboratory drug testing. Id. at 3-4. Carlock certified that the hair specimen was provided by ...


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