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Floyd v. State, Department of Parks & Tourism

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

August 31, 2018



          Susan O. Hickey United States District Judge.

         On December 22, 2017, the Court entered a Memorandum Opinion and Order granting in part and denying in part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 54. The remaining claims in this case are as follows: (1) Plaintiff's § 1983 retaliatory discharge claim against the Individual Defendants[1] in their individual capacities; (2) Plaintiff's § 1983 claim for prospective injunctive relief against the Individual Defendants in their official capacities; and (3) Plaintiff's claim for a declaratory judgment regarding Plaintiff's § 1983 retaliation claim.

         On January 3, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion for Reconsideration requesting that the Court reconsider its order denying summary judgment as to the § 1983 retaliatory discharge claim. ECF No. 58. The Court granted the Motion to Reconsider and ordered further briefing from the parties. ECF No. 60. Defendants filed a brief (ECF No. 63), and Plaintiff filed a responsive brief. ECF No. 64. Defendants filed a reply. ECF No. 65. Presently before the Court is the issue of whether Defendants are entitled to summary judgment as to the remaining claims.


         The Court will set forth an abbreviated statement of the material facts pertinent to Plaintiff's remaining claims.[2] In 2008, Plaintiff was hired by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism (“ADPT”) as a part-time maintenance tech at Historic Washington State Park. During his employment, Plaintiff became frustrated by his immediate supervisor's conduct and requested a meeting to discuss the issue. Plaintiff believed that his supervisor, Edward Donihoo, was “out to get him” and was “spying on him.” On July 31, 2013, Plaintiff met with Donihoo, Mike Roberts (Donihoo's immediate supervisor), and Brandon Owen (Historic Washington State Park Superintendent). Owen terminated Plaintiff during the meeting. However, Plaintiff was rehired at the same position later that day.

         On August 3, 2013, Plaintiff filed a grievance with the ADPT complaining of discriminatory conduct by Donihoo. Mark Steindl, Procurement Manager and Hearing Officer of the ADPT, presided over a grievance hearing on August 26, 2013, and determined that Donihoo's conduct was improper for a supervisor. On August 28, 2013, the ADPT received an anonymous letter stating that there was an “air of hostility” in Historic Washington State Park and that witnesses in the grievance hearing feared being retaliated against. ECF No. 44-6.

         Plaintiff testified in his deposition that around the second week of December 2014, he contacted the “state ranger” by telephone.[3] Plaintiff could not remember the ranger's full name but stated that he thought his last name was Rutledge. Plaintiff stated that he told the ranger about Donihoo's conduct, [4] alleged misconduct by Mike Roberts, and Brandon Owen's inaction when a co-worker pulled a knife on another co-worker. Plaintiff testified that the ranger never followed through, never talked to anybody, and never investigated anything. Plaintiff further testified that if the ranger did talk to someone about the conversation, he “just talked to people higher up” and not to anyone in the maintenance department. ECF No. 35-2, p. 22.

         On January 6, 2015, Plaintiff was terminated for “lack of work, ” which, according to the ADPT, means that there was not enough work to be done to justify the part-time maintenance position. A full-time maintenance employee was hired in August 2015.


         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that when a party moves for summary judgment:

The court shall grant summary judgment 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); Krenik v. Cnty. of LeSueur, 47 F.3d 953, 957 (8th Cir. 1995). The Supreme Court has issued the following guidelines for trial courts to determine whether this standard has been satisfied:

The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is a need for trial-whether, in other words, there are 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 (1986); see also Agristor Leasing v. Farrow, 826 F.2d 732 (8th Cir. 1987); Niagara of Wis. Paper Corp. v. Paper Indus. Union-Mgmt. PensionFund, 800 F.2d 742, 746 (8th Cir. 1986). A fact is material only when its resolution affects the it could cause a ...

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