United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. BROWN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are the motion for summary judgment of Gerald
Wesley, Jr. and Gerald Wesley, Sr., Doc. #56; and the motion
for summary judgment of Bolivar County, Mississippi, Doc.
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). In evaluating
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).
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).
Vivian Caston's Hire
Caston, a resident of Duncan, Mississippi, was hired as a
receptionist and clerk at the Bolivar County Regional
Correctional Facility in November 1999 by then Bolivar County
Sheriff Mack Grimmett. Doc. #60-1 at 5, 7. As receptionist,
she “serve[d] as a front line service representative
for the Bolivar County Regional Correctional Facility and
also the Bolivar County Sheriff's
Department.” Doc. #60-3 at 1. Vivian was aware that
she was hired as an at-will employee who “may be
terminated for any reason without cause or notice” at
any time. Doc. #60-1 at 29, 62.
Williams became Bolivar County Sheriff in 2012 and was
re-elected to the position in 2016. Doc. #60-5 at 4. Before
the start of each of Williams' terms, all Correctional
Facility employees had to apply to retain their jobs. Doc.
#60-1 at 29-31. Vivian reapplied for her job on January 9,
2012, and again on November 30, 2015. Id. at 31.
Some employees were not rehired during these reapplication
periods. Id. at 31-32. Though Williams fired
“quite a few” of his employees in 2012 because
they were at-will, Vivian was retained. Doc. #60-5 at 20, 22.
after Williams assumed office in 2012, Gerald Wesley, Jr. was
appointed Chief Deputy of the Bolivar County Sheriff's
Department. Doc. #60-7 at 4. Wesley Jr.'s wife, Veronica,
is an investigator with the Cleveland Police Department. Doc.
#60-8 at 4. Wesley Jr.'s father, Gerald Wesley, Sr.,
retired from the Bolivar County Sheriff's Department in
December 2015. Doc. #60-6 at 4-5. Before his retirement,
Wesley Sr. served as the Bolivar County Sheriff
Department's chief investigator for four years.
Id. at 5.
Jr. and Wesley Sr. did not supervise Vivian. Wesley Jr. and
Wesley Sr. worked on the Sheriff's Department side of the
Correctional Facility while Vivian worked on the Corrections
Department side. Doc. #58-3 at 7; Doc. #60-7 at 20-21.
Wesley Jr. and Kesha Caston
Caston is Vivian's adult daughter. Doc. #60-1 at 7. In
2011 or 2012, Wesley Jr. began an extramarital affair with
Kesha. Doc. #60-7 at 5; Doc. #60-10 at 7. When
Kesha became pregnant with Wesley Jr.'s child, Wesley Jr.
asked her to have an abortion and gave her $500 for the
procedure. Doc. #60-7 at 5-7.
learned of Kesha's pregnancy on Memorial Day weekend in
2013. Doc. #60-1 at 35. Vivian first discussed the pregnancy
with Wesley Jr. after Kesha approached her upset and crying
about his “want[ing] her to have an abortion.”
Id. at 35-36. Vivian confronted Wesley Jr. about the
abortion matter in his office during work hours and told him
that Kesha was not going to have an abortion “because
of … the risk [to] the baby.” Id. at
36. Vivian also told Wesley Jr. that she was “not going
to approve” of Kesha having an abortion and asked him
to stop asking Kesha to have one. Id. at 36-37.
though aware Kesha was pregnant with Wesley Jr.'s child,
does not recall discussing the pregnancy with Vivian, Wesley
Jr., or Wesley Sr., and was not aware that Wesley Jr. asked
Kesha to have an abortion. Doc. #60-5 at 7, 10. Vivian
testified she never discussed with Williams Kesha's
relationship with Wesley Jr., Kesha's pregnancy, or the
prospect of Kesha having an abortion. Doc. #60-1 at 37.
Confrontation between Vivian and Wesley Sr.
Kesha's pregnancy, Wesley Sr. confronted Vivian in the
parking lot of the Correctional Facility where they then both
worked. Doc. #60-1 at 39. According to Vivian, Wesley Sr.
told her that Williams told Wesley Jr. that “[Wesley
Jr.] was going to cause [Williams] to lose the
election” because of Kesha's pregnancy; and she
replied, “That doesn't have anything to do with the
election. That doesn't have nothing to do with me.”
Id. at 40. Vivian claims Wesley Sr. also told her
that if Kesha carried the pregnancy to term and Veronica
found out, Kesha could be harmed. Doc. #30 at
Wesley Sr. does not recall having this conversation, and
denies threatening to harm Kesha or telling Vivian that
Williams stated Kesha's pregnancy could lose him the
election. Doc. #60-6 at 10.
Wesley Sr.'s Phone Call to Vivian
to Vivian, while Kesha was pregnant, Wesley Sr. called
Vivian's home and “threatened” her. Doc.
#60-1 at 37-38. Wesley Sr. accused Kesha and her friend of
text messaging Veronica, and threatened to “call the
state” on them. Id. at 38. After Wesley Sr.
threatened her, Vivian called Williams and said that she
“was not going to do anything to embarrass him, because
he's the sheriff of Bolivar County.” Id.
at 38-39. Vivian testified that when she relayed to Williams
that Wesley Sr. threatened her and that she wanted him to
stop, Williams replied that he told Wesley Sr. “to
leave that alone” and that “it would work itself
out.” Id. at 39.
Sr. denies ever calling Vivian or threatening to call the
authorities on her. Doc. #60-6 at 13. Williams does not
recall Vivian complaining that Wesley Sr. threatened her;
however, Williams testified he “may have” told
Wesley Sr. to “leave it alone … [t]o keep peace
and keep it from the office … because I don't like
the conflict, and I didn't want it at the office.”
Doc. #60-5 at 10-12. Williams phoned Kesha about allegations
that she or her friends were sending harassing text messages
to Veronica, telling Kesha that she and Veronica
“needed to try and work things out
….” Doc. #60-10 at 25.
gave birth to a son in December 2013. Doc. #60-7 at 11.
Williams testified that Kesha's pregnancy and birth did
not interfere with the operation of the Correctional
Facility, stating, “I don't recall it getting that
serious.” Doc. #60-5 at 13.
would bring her son to the Correctional Facility to visit
Vivian at work. Doc. #60- 1 at 42. Vivian recounts that her
grandson was four or five months old when Kesha brought him
for his first visit, and that Kesha would bring him by the
facility “[e]very now and then.” Id.
saw Kesha or Vivian bring Kesha's son to the Correctional
Facility “maybe once, ” and never told Kesha or
Vivian not to bring the child there. Doc. #60-5 at 7-8.
Williams had no issue or problem with Vivian's grandson
visiting the front of the Correctional Facility, testifying
that “[b]abies come in all the time.”
Id. at 8.
the birth of their son, Kesha and Wesley Jr. argued about
rumors that Wesley Jr. falsified his salary for child support
purposes by submitting his father's lower salary. Doc.
#60-10 at 19-20. They also argued about Wesley Jr.'s
refusal to sign the birth certificate and provide Kesha with
his insurance card for the child. Id. at 22-24,
embroiled in a dispute with Wesley Jr. about his refusal to
sign their son's birth certificate, Kesha confronted
Veronica on October 1, 2014, outside the Cleveland Police
Department where Veronica worked. Doc. #60-12 at 1, 3. Kesha
and Veronica argued over Wesley Jr.'s refusal to sign the
birth certificate after DNA tests proved that he was the
child's father. Doc. #60-10 at 41-42. Melvin Sparks, then
an investigator at the Cleveland Police Department, prepared
an incident report stating that an “irate” Kesha
had “started a disturbance” with
Veronica. Doc. #60-12 at 3.
before January 2015, Kesha came to the Correctional Facility
to confront Wesley Jr. over issues with his insurance
card. Doc. #60-1 at 42-45. Vivian testified that
an upset Wesley Jr. called her into his office, where he and
Kesha “had a little altercation about the [insurance]
card.” Id. at 44. Vivian stated that
she “wish[ed] they could get along …
better.” Id. Wesley Jr. then began objecting
to the baby visiting the facility because it “can catch
a disease.” Id. at 44-45. After Vivian
defended her grandson's visits,  she stated that she
“was a taxpayer citizen” and Kesha “has the
right … [to] come out and visit me.”
Id. at 45. Williams, overhearing the conversation,
entered Wesley Jr.'s office while Vivian was talking and
believed that she “had came over and started the
conversation.” Id. After informing Williams
that Wesley Jr. had summoned her into his office, Vivian
returned to her post. Id. at 45-46.