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Tribble v. Ouachita Parish Police Jury

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

April 8, 2013

JOHN R. TRIBBLE
v.
OUACHITA PARISH POLICE JURY

For John R Tribble, Plaintiff: Paul Frederick Bell, LEAD ATTORNEY, Bell Law Firm, Baton Rouge, LA.

For Police Jury of Ouachita Parish, Defendant: S Price Barker, LEAD ATTORNEY, Adam Hayes Gates, Michael D Lowe, Cook Yancey et al, Shreveport, LA.

MAG. JUDGE KAREN L. HAYES.

OPINION

ROBERT G. JAMES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Page 627

RULING

This lawsuit was brought by Plaintiff John R. Tribble (" Tribble" ) against Defendant the Ouachita Parish Police Jury (" OPPJ" ). Tribble raises various federal and state law claims asserting that he was wrongfully terminated because of his disability.

Pending before the Court is the OPPJ's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 15]. For the following reasons, the OPPJ's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Tribble was hired by the OPPJ on July 25, 2011, as a computer technician, with the approval of OPPJ Administrator Brad Cammack (" Cammack" ). As a new employee, Tribble was subject to a six-month probationary period, during which he could be terminated with or without cause.

Tribble noted that he was disabled during his job interview and on his job application form. Tribble suffers from arthritis, sensitivity to light, anxiety, depression, and neck and back pain resulting from a ruptured intervertebral disc and bulging disc, which were surgically repaired in 1996. Tribble also suffers from pain in his left knee resulting from a torn ACL, which was surgically repaired in 1984.

Shortly after he was hired, Tribble was found asleep on the job on at least two occasions, on July 27, 2011, and August 8,

Page 628

2011. Tribble was counseled for the first two violations and received a written reprimand on August 9, 2011. The OPPJ asserts that Tribble was found asleep on two other occasions, but Tribble disputes this.

Tribble also failed to complete numerous job assignments during his four-month tenure, including failing to upgrade software, failing to provide employees access to databases, and failing to properly install a closed circuit camera system. However, Tribble never received a written reprimand regarding his work quality.

Additionally, multiple female OPPJ employees complained to management that Tribble behaved inappropriately around them. One employee reported that Tribble followed her into a conference room and used his cell phone camera to take a photograph of her backside. Cammack and LaTanya Harper (" Harper" ), OPPJ's Human Resources Coordinator, met with Tribble about the allegation. Tribble denied taking any photographs and refused to show his phone to Cammack. Following this meeting, Tribble confronted his coworker and told her he could not have his phone out around her and could only say " Hi" or " Bye."

On November 29, 2011, another female coworker, Sonya Abundiz, reported to Harper that as she and another female employee were walking out of the office, Tribble opened the door to enter. The other coworker bumped into Tribble and said, " Excuse me." Tribble let the women walk by, and as Abundiz passed, he whispered to her, " [I] wish it would have been [you]."

Another coworker, Anna Arnold (" Arnold" ), reported multiple unwanted contacts and uncomfortable interactions with Tribble, including invitations to lunch and to play tennis, and contacting her via Facebook. Tribble disputes the frequency of these contacts and does not recall contacting Arnold via Facebook.

Tribble also refused to use the general parking lot for employees or his assigned parking space. Instead, Tribble parked in one of the four handicapped parking spaces of the Ouachita Parish Courthouse, near the OPPJ offices. Since he had a handicapped parking tag issued by the State of Louisiana, Tribble believed he was permitted to park there. Cammack, however, asked Tribble not to park in the handicapped spaces, so they could remain open for courthouse visitors. Tribble initially followed Cammack's instructions, but after a few days, he resumed parking in the OPPJ's handicapped spaces, without further discussion with his supervisors. Later, Tribble was assigned a reserved parking space in the employee parking lot, but he continued to park in the handicapped spaces, claiming he did so because his assigned parking space was too distant.

On November 30, 2011, Cammack met with Tribble and asked why he continued to use the handicapped spaces. Tribble responded that his knee was hurting that morning. Cammack again asked Tribble not to park there and offered his reserved parking space to Tribble, which was located immediately adjacent to the handicapped spaces. Tribble refused this offer. The conversation grew heated, and Cammack suspended Tribble and told him to go home. Cammack then had network specialist Joseph Lee Morris, Jr., deactivate Tribble's account. Tribble believed he had been terminated, and, as he was leaving, he told Cammack, " You're going to be sorry."

On December 1, 2011, Cammack drafted a memorandum " recommending the termination of John Tribble for inability to understand and follow instructions, failure to complete assignments in a timely manner, sleeping while on the job, ...


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