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MacKlin v. FMC Transport, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division

January 12, 2015


For Dennis Macklin, Plaintiff: Alvin Leonard Simes, Attorney at Law, Forrest City, AR.

For FMC Transport Inc, Defendant: Kelly P. Carithers, Davis, Clark, Butt, Carithers & Taylor, PLC, Fayetteville, AR; Rick E. Temple, PRO HAC VICE, Law Offices of Rick E. Temple, LLC, Springfield, MO.

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Plaintiff Dennis Macklin brings this action against defendant FMC Transport, Inc., alleging racial discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Before the Court is FMC Transport's motion for summary judgment and motion in limine (Dkt. Nos. 63, 65), both of which have been fully briefed. For the reasons below, the Court grants the motion for summary judgment and denies as moot the motion in limine.

I. Factual Background

The following facts are taken from FMC Transport's statement of uncontroverted material facts (Dkt. No. 64-1) and Mr. Macklin's statement of contested facts (Dkt. No. 76-1). FMC Transport argues that Mr. Macklin's statement of contested facts does not comply with the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c)(1) and thus that the Court should deem FMC Transport's statement admitted. FMC Transport cites the case of Robinson v. American Red Cross, in which the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals deemed facts in the movant's statement of uncontested facts undisputed when the non-movant failed to submit a response to the movant's statement through a " separate, short and concise statement of the material facts as to which it contends a genuine dispute exists to be tried," as required by this Court's Local Rule 56.1. 753 F.3d 749, 754-55 (8th Cir. 2014). However, Robinson is distinguishable because here Mr. Macklin did respond to FMC Transport's statement ( see Dkt. No. 76). FMC Transport complains that Mr. Macklin's response lacks citations or references to specific parts of the record. Rule 56(e) provides that, in such a situation, the Court may take certain actions. The Court declines to take such actions here.

On May 31, 2005, Mr. Macklin became an independent lease truck driver for FMC Transport, which is a Missouri corporation involved in the transportation of petroleum and petroleum based products. Mr. Macklin owned his own truck while working for FMC Transport. On April 26, 2010, Mr. Macklin was involved in an accident that totaled his truck and rendered it inoperable. He was ticketed for the accident, though that ticket was later dismissed.

FMC Transport's safety and performance program, which all drivers are required to review and follow, involves a point system that gives each driver 12 points per year. Points are deducted for various violations, and an employee's employment or lease is terminated with the loss of all 12 points in one year. FMC Transport states, and the record supports, that an accident review board, comprised of two drivers and one company official, reviews accidents to determine if they are preventable or non-preventable as defined by the safety and performance program (Dkt. No. 67-4, at 3; Dkt. No. 67-15, at 12-15). A preventable accident results in the loss of three to 12 points (Dkt. No. 67-4, at 3). It is not clear from the record before the Court whether the accident review board or other FMC Transport managers choose the amount of points to deduct for a preventable accident.

FMC Transport states, and the record supports, that on May 24, 2010, the accident review board reviewed the investigatory report and details of Mr. Macklin's April 26, 2010, accident (Dkt. No. 67-6; Dkt. No. 67-15, at 12-15). Gary Picard, FMC Transport's safety director, facilitated

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the accident review board, which was comprised of Scott Altermatt, as a company official, and Kevin Baker and Robert Hill, as drivers ( Id.). According to the safety and performance program, at the accident review board, a safety director " will not vote, only present the facts as they are understood" (Dkt. No. 67-4, at 3); at Mr. Macklin's accident review board, Mr. Picard states that he was " there only to give [the board] the documents that we have" and that he did not " make any evidentiary presentation" (Dkt. No. 67-15, at 13). The accident review board determined that Mr. Macklin's accident was preventable, and four points were deducted for the accident, resulting in Mr. Macklin losing all 12 points for that year ( Id.). On May 24, 2010, Mr. Picard sent to Mr. Macklin a letter stating that " [w]e will be deducting 4 safety and performance points for this accident" and " [w]e will be terminating your lease at this time due to the loss of all your safety points" (Dkt. No. 67-6; see Dkt. No. 67-15, at 12-15). Although Mr. Macklin apparently signed a copy of the safety and performance program provisions that explained he had a right to appeal the accident review board's decision (Dkt. No. 67-15, at 39), Mr. Macklin did not appeal.

II. Legal Standard

Summary judgment is proper if the evidence, when viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, shows that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the defendant is entitled to entry of judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). A factual dispute is genuine if the evidence could cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party. Miner v. Local 373, 513 F.3d 854, 860 (8th Cir. 2008). " The mere existence of a factual dispute is insufficient alone to bar summary judgment; rather, the dispute must be outcome determinative under prevailing law." Holloway v. Pigman, 884 F.2d 365, 366 (8th Cir. 1989). However, parties opposing a summary judgment motion may not rest merely upon the allegations in their pleadings. Buford v. Tremayne, 747 F.2d 445, 447 (8th Cir. 1984). The initial burden is on the moving party to demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323. The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to establish that there is a genuine issue to be determined at trial. P ...

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