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Bankhead v. City of Cleveland

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

June 28, 2018

ANDREW BANKHEAD PLAINTIFF
v.
CITY OF CLEVELAND, and CHARLES BINGHAM DEFENDANTS

          ORDER AND MEMORANDUM OPINION

          SHARION AYCOCK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         After filing a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and receiving a “right-to-sue” letter, Andrew Bankhead filed his Complaint [1] in this Court against the City of Cleveland, Mississippi and Cleveland Police Chief Charles Bingham. Now before the Court is the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [13] requesting summary judgment in their favor on all of Plaintiff Bankhead's claims. The Plaintiff failed to respond and the allotted time for doing so is expired. See L. U. Civ. R. 7(b)(4).

         Preliminary Matters

         The Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, and the Court will construe his pleadings liberally. See McCreary v. Richardson, 738 F.3d 651, 657 (5th Cir. 2013). After examining the Plaintiff's Complaint and the attached Charge of Discrimination, it appears to the Court that the Plaintiff has brought a claim for race discrimination, and a claim for retaliatory termination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. The Plaintiff alleges that the City and Bingham failed to promote him to the position of inspector because he is African American, and instead promoted two white candidates. The Plaintiff further alleges that the Defendants later fired him in retaliation for filing a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission related to his failed promotion.

         The Plaintiff failed to respond to the Defendants' requests for admission served under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 36.[1] The Defendants now argue that the Plaintiff's failure to respond to their requests for admission deems the matters contained within the requests admitted and conclusively established. The Court agrees. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(a)(3), (b). Although the Court is fully aware of its obligation to construe pro se pleadings liberally, a pro se Plaintiff is not excused from the procedures and obligations mandated by the Federal Rules. See Coleman v. Wells Fargo Bank Nat'l Ass'n, No. A-12-CV-032 LY, 2012 WL 12886432, at *1 (W.D. Tex. July 27, 2012) (citing Douglass v. United Services Auto. Ass'n, 65 F.3d 452, 455 n.4 (5th Cir. 1995)); see also Grant v. Cuellar, 59 F.3d 523, 524 (5th Cir. 1995). By operation of Rule 36, the matters contained in the Defendants' requests for admission, and not answered or objected to by the Plaintiff, are deemed admitted and conclusively established. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(a)(3), (b).

         With these preliminary matters addressed, the Court will now take up the substance of the Defendants' request for summary judgment.

         Standard of Review

         Federal 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).

         In 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.” procedural 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).

         The 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). This Court has no duty to “sift through the record in search of evidence to support” the nonmovant's opposition to summary judgment. Edwards v. Cont'l Cas. Co., 841 F.3d 360, 363 (5th Cir. 2016) (citing Forsyth v. Barr, 19 F.3d 1527, 1537 (5th Cir. 1994) (quoting Skotak v. Tenneco Resins, Inc., 953 F.2d 909, 915 n.7 (5th Cir. 1992)).

         The Court notes that the Plaintiff failed to respond to the pending motion for summary judgment and wholly failed to “designate ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (citation omitted). Although the Plaintiff clearly failed to meet his responsibility in the summary judgment context, out of an abundance of caution, the Court conducted an independent review of the entire record in this case and will analyze the relevant issues based on this review.

         Discussion and Analysis

         As noted above, the Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants refused to promote him because of his race, and that the Defendants then fired him in retaliation for filing a Charge of Discrimination. The Defendants respond by arguing that the Plaintiff, by way of his failure to respond to discovery, has admitted that his failed promotion and termination had nothing to do with his either his race or his filing with the Commission. The Defendants argue in the alternative, that ...


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