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DeGrate v. City of Monroe

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

January 30, 2017





         Pending before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 3');">37] filed by Defendants Jamie Mayo, John Ross, Bruce Watson, Sam Tennessee, Lois Rogers and the City of Monroe (collectively, “Defendants”). For the following reasons, Defendants&#3');">39; Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED, and DeGrate&#3');">39;s claims are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.


         On October 9, 201');">1');">1');">13');">3, Plaintiff William Earl DeGrate (“DeGrate”) began working for the City of Monroe in the Department of Community Affairs. [Doc. No. 3');">37-3');">3, p. 1');">1');">1');">15]. On October 21');">1');">1');">1, 201');">1');">1');">13');">3, DeGrate signed an acknowledgment for receipt of the Employee Handbook, At Will Statement and Addendums, Violence Free Workplace Policy, and Memorandum of Understanding. Id. 1');">1');">1');">14. According to DeGrate, his job responsibilities were to make sure the children at the City of Monroe&#3');">39;s recreation center followed and obeyed the relevant rules and regulations. Id. at 4.

         During his employment with the City of Monroe, DeGrate also coached a non-city sponsored youth baseball team. Id. at 6-7. The Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Monroe, Defendant Bruce Watson (“Watson”), confronted DeGrate about the allegation that he had been asking parents for baseball uniform money. Id. at 27. Watson explained that his requests were in violation of the City of Monroe&#3');">39;s policy that “no City employee [is] ever to accept funds for any service related to City activities.” Id.

         In a letter dated October 1');">1');">1');">15, 201');">1');">1');">14, the City of Monroe notified DeGrate of the charges against him and that he would be given an opportunity to refute these charges at a pre-disciplinary hearing. Id. at 1');">1');">1');">12-1');">1');">1');">13');">3. On October 21');">1');">1');">1, 201');">1');">1');">14, the pre-disciplinary hearing was held. Id. at 1');">1');">1');">18. After considering DeGrate&#3');">39;s responses during the hearing, DeGrate&#3');">39;s employment with the City of Monroe was terminated in a four-page letter containing the stated reasons for his termination. Id.

         On November 4, 201');">1');">1');">15, DeGrate filed a Complaint against Defendants asserting claims of wrongful termination, discrimination, and defamation. On November 1');">1');">1');">10, 201');">1');">1');">16, Defendants filed this Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 3');">37]. Plaintiff filed an Opposition to Defendant&#3');">39;s Motion [Doc. No. 46] on December 21');">1');">1');">1, 201');">1');">1');">16. On December 28, 201');">1');">1');">16, DeGrate filed a supplemental memorandum. [Doc. No. 47].


         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment “should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.p. 56(c)(2). The moving party bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion by identifying portions of the record which highlight the absence of genuine issues of material fact. Topalian v. Ehrmann, 1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">125');">954 F.2d 1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">125, 1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">13');">32 (5th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1992). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the suit under applicable law in the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1');">1');">1');">1986). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable fact finder could render a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

         If the moving party can meet the initial burden, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to establish the existence of a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Norman v. Apache Corp., 1');">1');">1');">19 F.3');">3d 1');">1');">1');">101');">1');">1');">17');">1');">1');">1');">19 F.3');">3d 1');">1');">1');">101');">1');">1');">17, 1');">1');">1');">1023');">3 (5th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1994). The nonmoving party must show more than “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1');">1');">1');">1986). In evaluating the evidence tendered by the parties, the Court must accept the evidence of the nonmovant as credible and draw all justifiable inferences in its favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255

         B. Wrongful Termination

         Plaintiff&#3');">39;s first claim is for wrongful termination. When the employer and employee are silent on the terms of the employment contract, the Civil Code provides the default rule of employment-at-will. See La. C.C. art. 2747; Quebedeaux v. Dow Chem. Co., 820 So.2d 542, 545 (La. 2002). Under Louisiana law, an at-will employee “could be terminated at any time, for any reason or for no reason at all, provided the termination does not violate any statutory or constitutional provision.” Wallace v. Shreve Mem&#3');">39;l Library, 3');">3d 427');">79 F.3');">3d 427, 429 (5th ...

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