Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jackson v. Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning of State of Mississippi

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

July 2, 2018

HAROLD LEON JACKSON PLAINTIFF
v.
THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF STATE INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI; et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON BREACH OF CONTRACT CLAIM

          LOUIS GUIROLA, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         BEFORE THE COURT are the [28] Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiff Harold Leon Jackson and the [30] Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Dr. Glen F. Boyce, Dr. Carolyn Meyers, and the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning of the State of Mississippi (“IHL”).

         Defendant IHL filed a [32] Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion, but no further briefing has been filed. The Court has already granted in part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment by prior Order and dismissed Boyce and Meyers from the lawsuit. Jackson's sole remaining claim is for breach of contract against IHL. Having considered the submissions of the parties, the record, and relevant law, the Court finds that there exist genuine disputes as to material facts which preclude judgment as a matter of law. Both Jackson and IHL will be denied summary judgment on Jackson's breach of contract claim.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Harold Leon Jackson filed a Complaint in the Circuit Court of Hinds County, Mississippi in April 2017 against IHL, Dr. Meyers, and Dr. Boyce. Defendants subsequently removed the action to this Court on May 12, 2017. Jackson was employed by IHL as the Head Football Coach of Jackson State University (“JSU”) from January 13, 2014 until his termination on October 6, 2015. IHL is the Mississippi governmental entity responsible for management and control of the State's eight public institutions of higher learning. Dr. Meyers was President of JSU during Jackson's coaching tenure, and Dr. Boyce was the Commissioner of Higher Education at IHL at the time of Jackson's termination. The Court has already dismissed Jackson's claims against Drs. Meyers and Boyce.

         The parties agree that Jackson and IHL, acting through its member institution JSU, executed the Employment Agreement on January 13, 2014, which stipulates that Jackson would serve as the Head Football Coach at JSU for a period of three years beginning January 13, 2014 and ending January 12, 2017.[1] The Employment Agreement provides for an annual base salary of $260, 000. (Pl.'s Mot. Ex. B, at 1, ECF No. 28-2) [hereinafter Emp't Agreement].

         Jackson's Complaint alleges that IHL breached the Employment Agreement. Section 2.1 of the Employment Agreement, which is at the heart of the parties' contract dispute, provides, “This agreement shall be for a term of three (3) years . . ., with a buyout clause of $65, 000 or a figure negotiated and agreed upon by both parties if terminated earlier by the University.” (Emp't Agreement at 1) (emphasis added). Pursuant to this section, but without further negotiation, IHL offered Jackson $65, 000 to “buyout” his contract on October 6, 2015. Jackson refused to accept that amount. (See Compl. ¶¶16-19, ECF No. 1-1.) IHL insists that this offer of $65, 000 was in compliance with section 2.1's condition of early termination by the University. (Defs' Mem. to Mot. Summ. J. 6, ECF No. 27.) However, Jackson maintains that this “buyout clause” instead establishes the sum of money he would have owed JSU if he had sought to prematurely terminate the contract. (Compl. ¶17, ECF No. 1-1.) Jackson asserts that he “is entitled to be compensated at a minimum, for the value of the remainder of his Employment Agreement, in the amount of $329, 808.22.” (Id. ¶19.) He also states that “[t]here was no meeting of the minds between the parties as to the meaning of the term ‘buyout clause,' or the effect of such clause.” (Id. ¶23.)

         On April 30, 2018, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment on May 1, 2018.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Jackson's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment makes three alternative arguments in support of his position that IHL breached the Employment Agreement: (1) the Employment Agreement is invalid because JSU had no authority to contract with Jackson, only IHL has such authority; (2) the early termination clause is invalid because there was never a meeting of the minds between the parties as to the meaning of this provision; and (3) the early termination clause is legally unconscionable.

         Defendants' Response in Opposition addresses each argument, insisting that (1) the Employment agreement is valid because IHL's Policies and Bylaws explicitly delegate to the executive officer of each member institution the authority to hire head football coaches without IHL approval, (2) Jackson agreed to the language in the Employment agreement even if he maintains that he understood it differently from Defendants, and (3) the Employment Agreement is not unconscionable because it is not so one-sided as to be legally oppressive.

         Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment similarly argues that IHL did not breach the Employment Agreement with Jackson.

         a. Summary Judgment Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “When the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). “[T]he nonmovant must go beyond the pleadings and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.