United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Eastern Division
M. Moody, United States District Judge.
is the Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (Docket #
48). Plaintiffs have filed a response and Defendants have
filed a reply. For the reasons set forth herein, the motion
Waldo McWane has filed a motion to enforce the settlement
agreement entered in this case. As part of the settlement,
the City of Earle, Arkansas agreed to give each of the
Plaintiffs a one year contract of employment as a police
officer with the City of Earle Police Department. The terms
of the settlement required the Plaintiffs to dismiss their
pending claims and lawsuit against the City in exchange for a
payment of $90, 000 and a reinstatement package, which
included Plaintiffs being subject to termination only for
“good cause, ” instead of being at-will
employees. The City of Earle voted to approve the Settlement
Agreement at a council meeting held on March 21, 2017. The
interim Mayor, Robert Malone, then signed the Contracts of
Employment of Hampton, Eaves and McWane.
contract of employment of Waldo McWane provides that he will
be employed for a period of one year beginning on the date of
the entry of the dismissal of this lawsuit and during that
time he would not be demoted, terminated, or have his rate of
pay reduced except for good cause. Once the employment
contracts were authorized by the interim mayor,
Defendants' counsel notified counsel for McWane that the
Plaintiffs should be ready to return to work the day after
the order of dismissal was entered.
8, 2017 the order of dismissal was entered and
Defendants' counsel sent another e-mail to counsel for
McWane stating that the Plaintiffs needed to contact the
Mayor about returning to work. Plaintiff Eaves reported to
work on May 8, 2017 and was scheduled to work beginning May
12, 2017. In the late afternoon of Wednesday, May 10, 2017,
Defendants' counsel was advised that neither Hampton nor
McWane had made inquiry about further employment.
Defendants' counsel then sent an email to Plaintiffs'
counsel informing him that the City would be advised to
terminate Hampton and McWane's employment based on their
no-call and no-show. Plaintiffs' counsel then notified
Defendants' counsel that Hampton would not be seeking
reemployment with the City. On Friday, May 12, 2017, at
around 2:00 p.m., Plaintiff McWane drove to the Earle City
Hall to purportedly fill out the paperwork to get his job
back. As part of that process he handed a City employee his
driver's license to be copied; whereupon it was
discovered that his license was expired. At that time, the
Mayor declined to re-employ him because he was late in
returning to work, he could not be immediately re-employed
because he could not drive a patrol car, and it was a
violation of law for him to drive to City Hall with an
City unilaterally terminated the employment agreement with
McWane on May 12, 2017. Thereafter, the City refused to
reinstate McWane on June 1, 2017 after he had cured his
driver's license. Plaintiff McWane then filed a motion to
enforce settlement agreement. Finding that there were
questions of fact, the Court set the case for a bench trial.
Defendants seek summary judgment arguing that McWane
materially breached the employment contract thereby excusing
the City from performance.
judgment is appropriate only when there is no genuine issue
of material fact, so that the dispute may be decided solely
on legal grounds. Holloway v. Lockhart, 813 F.2d 874
(8th Cir. 1987), Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The Supreme Court has
established guidelines to assist trial courts in determining
whether this standard has been met:
The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining
whether there is a need for a trial -- whether, in other
words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can
be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may
reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250
Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has cautioned that summary
judgment should be invoked carefully so that no person will
be improperly deprived of a trial of disputed factual issues.
Inland Oil & Transport Co. v. United States, 600
F.2d 725 (8th Cir. 1979), cert. denied, 444 U.S. 991
(1979). The Eighth Circuit set out the burden of the parties
in connection with a summary judgment motion in Counts v.
M.K. Ferguson Co., 862 F.2d 1338 (8th Cir. 1988):
[T]he burden on the party moving for summary judgment is only
to demonstrate, i.e., ‘[to] point out to the District
Court, ' that the record does not disclose a genuine
dispute on a material fact. It is enough for the movant to
bring up the fact that the record does not contain such an
issue and to identify that part of the record which bears out
his assertion. Once this is done, his burden is discharged,
and, if the record in fact bears out the claim that no
genuine dispute exists on any material fact, it is then the
respondent's burden to set forth affirmative evidence,
specific facts, showing that there is a genuine dispute on
that issue. If the respondent fails to carry that burden,
summary judgment should be granted.
Id. at 1339 (quoting City of Mt. Pleasant v.
Associated Elec. Coop., 838 F.2d 268, 273-274 (8th Cir.
1988) (citations omitted)(brackets in original)). Only
disputes over facts that may affect the outcome of the suit
under governing law will properly preclude the ...