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Walker-Hynes v. Poore

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

March 15, 2018

STEPHANIE WALKER-HYNES PLAINTIFF
v.
MICHAEL POORE, Individually and Officially as Superintendent of Little Rock School District DEFENDANTS

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         I. Procedure for Filing Objections

         This Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to Judge James M. Moody, Jr. Any party to this suit may file written objections with the Clerk of Court within 14 days of the date the Recommendation is filed. Objections must be specific and must include the factual or legal basis for the objection. An objection to a factual finding must identify the finding of fact believed to be wrong and describe the evidence that supports that belief.

         By not objecting, any right to appeal questions of fact may be jeopardized. And if no objections are filed, Judge Moody can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing the record.

         II. Introduction

         By Complaint filed on December 22, 2016, Plaintiff Stephanie Walker-Hynes sued Johnny Key, Arkansas Commissioner of Education, and Michael Poore, Superintendent of the Little Rock School District (“LRSD”), alleging that her termination from the LRSD in 2016 was retaliatory and the result of race and gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Docket entry #1) She also alleged age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”). (Id.)

         A Partial Recommended Disposition was filed on July 25, 2017, recommending that Commissioner Key's motion to dismiss be granted for failure to state a federal claim for relief. (#16). No. objections were filed, and Judge James M. Moody Jr., the presiding judge in the case, adopted that recommendation. (#17) Commissioner Key was dismissed from the lawsuit. (Id.).

         Superintendent Poore has filed a motion for summary judgment as to all the claims against him in this case, including official-capacity and individual-capacity claims. (#30, #31, #32) Ms. Walker-Hynes has responded to this motion (#35, #36, #37), and Superintendent Poore has replied. (#38) Judge Moody referred this case to the undersigned for a recommended disposition. (#13) Both parties agree that the sole remaining claim is whether Ms. Walker-Hynes's termination was the result of retaliation.[1] For the reasons stated below, Superintendent Poore's motion for summary judgment should be granted and this case dismissed with prejudice.

         III. Discussion

         A. Superintendent Poore, Individual Capacity

         Superintendent Poore first contends that Ms. Walker-Hynes's Title VII claim against him in his individual capacity must be dismissed because Title VII does not provide for individual liability. (#32 at 9-10, #38 at 2) The Court agrees. Title VII liability only attaches to an employer. Van Horn v. Best Buy Stores, LP., 526 F.3d 1144, 1147 (8th Cir. 2008) (“The district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of Mr. Clark on the Title VII claim because that law does not provide for an action against an individual supervisor. . . .”) (citing Bales v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 143 F.3d 1103, 1111 (8th Cir. 1998)). Accordingly, the Court recommends that Judge Moody dismiss Ms. Walker-Hynes's Title VII claim against Superintendent Poore in his individual capacity.

         B. Superintendent Poore, Official Capacity[2]

         1. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate where evidence the parties prevent shows that there is no genuine issue as to any fact important to the outcome of the claim. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). As the moving party, Superintendent Poore bears the initial burden of demonstrating that there is no genuine dispute of fact. Id. If he meets this burden, then Ms. Walker-Hynes is obligated to come forward with evidence establishing a genuine dispute that must be decided at a trial. Id. ...


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