United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are the parties' cross motions for summary
judgment, Docs. #41, #43; and a number of related motions
filed by Jason Alston, Docs. #52, #53, #56, #61, #73, #83.
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).
“When parties file cross-motions for summary judgment,
[courts] review each party's motion independently,
viewing the evidence and inferences in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party.” Duval v. N.
Assurance Co. of Am., 722 F.3d 300, 303 (5th Cir. 2013)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
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) (alterations and internal quotation marks
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).
Alston worked at the Mississippi Department of Transportation
(“MDOT”) from September 1, 2012, until October
26, 2015. Doc. #43-6; see Doc. #42 at 4.
Alston's supervisor at MDOT was Martin Price. Doc. #42 at
4; Doc. #43-2 at 145. While employed by MDOT, Alston filed at
least one charge of discrimination with the
EEOC. Doc. #41-4.
October 5, 2015, Alston applied in-person to work at Prairie
Farms. Doc. #44 at 2; Doc. #48-1 at ¶ 5. He was
interviewed by Brad Hutchison and Rodney Smith. Doc. #43-2 at
59; Doc. #48-1 at ¶ 5. After interviewing Alston,
Hutchison and Smith made the decision to hire Alston. Doc.
#43-2 at 60; Doc. #43-3 at ¶ 7. In accordance with
Prairie Farms' standard hiring procedure, Hutchison
contacted Price for an employment reference. Doc. #48-1 at
¶ 7. Price gave Alston a “favorable reference
indicating that he came to work on time and did not have a
history of excessive absences.” Doc. #43-4 at ¶
October 26, 2015, Alston began working as a general laborer
or “trailer man” in Prairie Farms' cooler
where he loaded delivery trucks. Doc. #43-2 at 79; Doc. #48-1
at ¶ 4. Pursuant to Prairie Farms' collective
bargaining agreement, Alston was “initially hired on a
trial basis for the first ninety (90) days of employment,
” during which time “employees may be terminated
in [Prairie Farms'] sole discretion.” Doc. #43-1 at
Prairie Farms, Alston was trained and supervised by Donny
Riley. Doc. #43-2 at 61, 80; Doc. #43-5 at ¶ 8.
“Almost immediately” after Alston began working,
Riley noticed that Alston had trouble keeping up with his
assignments and voiced this concern to Smith and Hutchison.
Doc. #43-5 at ¶ 9. Alston's subpar work performance
continued for nearly two weeks, requiring Riley to help
Alston load trucks to ensure on-time deliveries. Id.
at ¶ 10. Riley, Smith, and Hutchison all agreed that
Alston was “not a good fit for the position” and,
based on Riley's concerns and recommendations, Smith and
Hutchison terminated Alston's employment on November 5,
2015. Id. at ¶ 12.
Alston filed a charge of discrimination against Prairie Farms
with the EEOC alleging that Price “insisted” that
he quit working at MDOT and work for Price's friend,
Hutchison, at Prairie Farms. Doc. #1-1 at 1. On September 30,
2016, Alston received a right to sue letter. Doc. #1-2.
December 13, 2016, Alston filed a complaint against Prairie
Farms in the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Mississippi, alleging violations of Title VII and
42 U.S.C. § 1981. Doc. #1. Prairie Farms answered the
complaint on January 13, 2017. Doc. #5. On November 3, 2017,
Alston's then counsel of record filed a motion to
withdraw as his attorney, which the Court granted on November
7, 2017. Doc. #38; Doc. #39. Since then, Alston has proceeded
period of discovery, Alston moved for summary judgment on
November 7, 2017. Doc. #41. One week later, Prairie Farms
moved for summary judgment. Doc. #43. On November 20, 2017,
Alston responded to Prairie Farms' motion for summary
judgment, Doc. #45, and also filed “Objections to
Evidences and Declarations Submitted in Support of
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, ” Doc.
#47. Prairie Farms responded to Alston's motion for
summary judgment on November 21, 2017. Doc. #48. On November
27, 2017, Alston filed a “Reply in Further Opposition
to Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment” Doc. #49, and Prairie Farms replied in
support of its summary judgment motion, Doc. #51.
November 27, 2017, Alston moved to strike certain
declarations and deposition excerpts in Prairie Farms'
motion for summary judgment. Doc. #52. Prairie Farms
responded to the motion to strike on December 11, 2017. Doc.
Alston filed a number of motions: on December 1, 2017, a
motion to correct two dates in his November 27 reply, Doc. #
53, and a motion for the Court to take judicial notice of
various documents, Doc. #56; on December 15, 2017, a motion
for judgment as a matter of law, Doc. #61; on March 19, 2018,
a motion to continue trial, Doc. #73, and a motion for
sanctions, Doc. #74; and finally, on April 5, 2018, a motion
to strike all of Prairie Farms' responsive pleadings and
for entry of default judgment, Doc. #83. To date, with the
exception of the motion for sanctions, Prairie Farms has not
responded to any of these motions. Alston's motion for
sanctions was denied by separate order on April 13, 2018.
alleges his employment at Prairie Farms was terminated in
retaliation for his filing charges of race discrimination
with the EEOC while employed at MDOT. Doc. #1 at 2.
Retaliation under Title ...