United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
DONNIE R. KENNEDY PLAINTIFF
PIONEER CREDIT COMPANY DEFENDANT
SHARION AYCOCK UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Kennedy filed his Complaint  in this Court on December 28,
2016 alleging that his former employer, Pioneer Credit
Company, fired him because of his age in violation of the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §621 et.
seq. Kennedy was sixty-two years old at the time he was
fired. Now before the Court is Defendant Pioneer Credit's
Motion for Summary Judgment , requesting judgment in its
favor on all of Kennedy's claims and dismissal of this
action with prejudice. The issues are fully briefed and ripe
and Procedural Background
worked in the consumer finance industry for more than thirty
years, starting as a collector and quickly working his way up
to a branch manager. Starting in 1986, Kennedy managed
branches for a few different companies in Northeast
Mississippi, including branches in Amory, Booneville, and
Tupelo, Mississippi. In 2010, the owners of Pioneer recruited
Kennedy to open a new branch in Tupelo. Kennedy accepted the
job, and recruited his own staff to run the branch.
December of 2014, the owners sold the company to Mariner
Finance. Mariner kept doing business under the name Pioneer
but made many other changes, including implementing a new
computer system that removed manager discretion in deciding
whether to make loans. Some of these changes were hard for
Kennedy, and he did not like some of the changes.
in 2016, Kennedy's area supervisor Jim Campbell told him
that Mariner planned to close the nearby Pontotoc branch and
move all of the Pontotoc accounts to Tupelo. On March 2,
2016, Pioneer Vice President Ricky Hentz came to the Tupelo
Branch and told Kennedy that he was there to let him go.
After Pioneer fired Kennedy, it closed the Pontotoc branch
and promoted the assistant manager from the now closed
Pontotoc branch, Corey Caygle, to branch manager at the
Tupelo location. Kennedy was sixty-two years old when Pioneer
fired him. Caygle was thirty-one years old when he took over
as manager at the Tupelo branch.
now requests summary judgment in its favor arguing that
Kennedy cannot establish a prima facie case of age
discrimination, and that even if he could, he cannot show
that “but for” his age, he would not have been
of Review 3
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 governs summary judgment. Summary
judgment is warranted when the evidence reveals no genuine
dispute regarding any material fact, and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
The rule “mandates the entry of summary judgment, after
adequate time for discovery and upon motion, 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.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).
reviewing the evidence, factual controversies are to be
resolved in favor of the non-movant, “but only when . .
. both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory
facts.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d
1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994). When such contradictory facts
exist, the Court may “not make credibility
determinations or weigh the evidence.” Reeves v.
Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150, 120
S.Ct. 2097, 147 L.Ed.2d 105 (2000).
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.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct.
2548. The nonmoving party must then “go beyond the
pleadings” and “designate ‘specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'”
Id. at 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (citation omitted).
the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, an employer may be
liable for “discharg[ing] any individual . . . because
of such an individual's age.” 29 U.S.C. §
623(a)(1). To prove discriminatory termination under the
ADEA, a plaintiff must show that but for the alleged
discrimination, he would not have been terminated. Gross
v. FBL Financial Servs., Inc., 557 U.S. 167, 176, 129
S.Ct. 2343, 174 L.Ed.2d 119 (2009). When, as here, a
plaintiff seeks to establish his claim with circumstantial
evidence only, the Court assesses the sufficiency of the
evidence using the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting
framework. Miller v. Raytheon Co., 716 F.3d 138, 144
(5th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).
the McDonnell Douglas contours, Kennedy must first
establish a prima facie case of age discrimination,
“at which point, the burden shifts to the employer to
articulate a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for the
employment decision.” Berquist v. Wash. Mut.
Bank, 500 F.3d 344, 349 (5th Cir. 2007). If Pioneer
meets its burden of production, Kennedy must introduce
evidence from which a jury could infer that Pioneer's
proffered reasons are not true -but are instead a pretext for
discrimination- or that even if the proffered reasons are
true, Kennedy was terminated “because of” his
age. Miller, 716 F.3d at 144 (citing Gross,
557 U.S. at 180, 129 S.Ct. 2343). To demonstrate pretext
under the ADEA, Kennedy must offer evidence to rebut
each of the employer's ...