United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
O. Hickey United States District Judge.
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 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
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.
Court will set forth an abbreviated statement of the material
facts pertinent to Plaintiff's remaining
claims. 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.
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.
testified in his deposition that around the second week of
December 2014, he contacted the “state ranger” by
telephone. 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,  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.
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.
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 ...