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McMullin v. Mississippi Department of Public Safety

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

September 28, 2019

GAYLE MILLER MCMULLIN PLAINTIFF
v.
MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY; MARSHALL FISHER, in his official Capacity as Commissioner of the MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY; and CHRIS GILLARD, in his official Capacity as Colonel for the MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          HENRY T. WINGATE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         BEFORE THIS COURT are two motions [Docket nos. 94 and 96] filed by Plaintiff Gayle Miller McMullin (hereinafter referred to as “Plaintiff”). Plaintiff submitted her Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement by Way of Partial Summary Judgment and Citation of Contempt [Docket no. 94] and supporting memorandum brief [Docket no. 95] on November 19, 2018. Plaintiff filed an identical motion and supporting memorandum of law [Docket nos. 96-97] on the same day. Plaintiff's two motions and supporting briefs are undistinguishable in every respect[1].

         Defendants, Mississippi Department of Public Safety (“MDPS”), Commissioner Marshall Fisher in his official capacity and Colonel Chris Gillard in his official capacity (hereinafter collectively referred to as “Defendants”) filed their response in opposition and memorandum brief of law [Docket nos. 102-103] on December 3, 2018. Plaintiff filed a rebuttal in support of her motion on December 17, 2018. [Docket no. 106].

         Plaintiff's Motion asserts that the Defendants breached a 2015 Settlement Agreement [Docket no. 94-1], which provided, among other things, that Plaintiff would be promoted to the rank of Captain and given the position of Training Director of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety[2]. Plaintiff asks this Court for the following relief: (a) an Order mandating that she be placed back into her Training Director position; (b) an Order granting her partial Summary Judgment as to liability for violation of the Settlement; (c) an Order adjudicating the Defendants in civil contempt for willful violation of said Order; and (d) a trial on damages for the willful violation of this Court's Order and Settlement Agreement in Civil Action No. 3:13-cv-68-CWR-FKB. [Docket no. 94, ¶ 7]. Defendants claim they have fulfilled their obligations under the Settlement Agreement and are not in breach or contempt. For the reasons stated herein, this Court agrees with the Defendants and DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Contempt and Partial Summary Judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         a. Prior Lawsuit

         Plaintiff is employed by MDPS and carries the rank of Captain. Prior to becoming Captain, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit (hereinafter referred to as “initial lawsuit”) against MDPS, alleging racial discrimination in employment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as amended)[3] and Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983[4]. In her initial lawsuit, Plaintiff alleged that she had been denied a transfer and promotion as Training Director for MDPS because of her race, Caucasian.

         In the initial lawsuit, The Honorable Judge Carlton Reeves granted summary judgement in favor of the Defendants, MDPS and then Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz, finding that Plaintiff, had failed to establish a prima facie case of race-based discrimination[5]. Judge Reeves entered a final judgment dismissing the case with prejudice on May 6, 2014.[6] The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit; however, found that the district court had erred in granting summary judgment and, consequently, vacated the district court's judgement and remanded the case for trial on April 28, 2015.[7]

         b. Settlement and Terms

         Plaintiff, thereafter, entered into a Settlement and Release Agreement (hereinafter referred to as the “Settlement Agreement”) with MDPS on September 18, 2015. [Docket no. 94-1]. As part of the Settlement Agreement, MDPS agreed to: (1) promote Plaintiff, then carrying the rank of Lieutenant to Captain; and (2) to appoint Plaintiff as Director of Training for the Mississippi Highway Patrol. The Settlement Agreement did not indicate that Plaintiff was to remain in the position of Director of Training for any prescribed length of time. In exchange for her promotion and other covenants, Plaintiff agreed to dismiss her initial lawsuit and to release Defendants MDPS and Albert Santa Cruz, in his official capacity, from all claims filed against them in her initial lawsuit.

         c. Plaintiff's promotion to Captain and appointment to position of Training Director

         MDPS promoted Plaintiff to the rank of Captain and appointed her as the Director of Training on September 21, 2015[8]. The Training Director is tasked with providing oversight for the continued in-service training of Mississippi State Troopers, to maintain their certification, as well as directing Trooper Schools for newly hired Troopers. [See Docket no. 103, pp. 1-3].

         To date, MDPS has taken no action to remove Plaintiff from the Training Director's position; Plaintiff retains the same rank, PIN number, and duties bestowed upon her on September 21, 2015.

         d. Plaintiff's leave of absence due to ...


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