United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
CHRISTOPHER TROTTER, MICHAEL COLLINS, PATRICK SANDERS, EARVIN WILLIAMS, CHARLES F. TROTTER, LEO MITCHELL, TIMOTHY SALLINS, ROBERT SALLINS, CLAUDIEUS GILLIAM, AND ISAAC WEST
LAUREN ENGINEERS & CONSTRUCTORS, INC.
RULING AND ORDER
A. JACKSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CHIEF JUDGE
the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 25) filed
by Lauren Engineers & Constructors, Inc.
("Defendant"). In its motion, Defendant requests
that the Court dismiss this action pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56. Christopher
Trotter, Michael Collins, Patrick Sanders, Charles F.
Trotter, Leo Mitchell, Timothy Sallins, and Isaac West
(collectively "Plaintiffs") filed a memorandum in
opposition, (Doc. 32), and Defendant filed a reply, (Doc.
34). The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1331. Oral argument is not necessary. For the reasons that
follow, Defendant's motion is GRANTED.
filed the instant action on December 4, 2015, in the
Twenty-Third Judicial District Court, Parish of Ascension,
State of Louisiana, alleging that while under Defendant's
employ, Defendant created a hostile work environment in which
they were subjected to discriminatory comments in violation
of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title
VII). Specifically, Plaintiffs assert that on
two separate occasions-July 25, 2015, and September 22,
2015-Brad Hanson, the Mechanical Superintendent for
Defendant, used racially inappropriate language and referred
to Plaintiffs as "monkeys." (See Doc.
undisputed facts show that on July 25, 2015, Mr. Hanson held
a meeting with several project supervisors, including
Plaintiff Timothy Sallins, an African-American man, and
Raymond Williams, a Caucasian man. (Docs. 25-13 at p. 3; 33
at p. 1). At the meeting, Mr. Hanson allegedly commented to
Mr. Williams that his crewmembers, a predominantly black
group known as the "Grout Crew, " "looked like
a bunch of monkeys f**ing a football." (Id.).
Other than Timothy Sallins, no Plaintiff was present at the
meeting. Shortly thereafter, members of the Grout Crew
learned about Mr. Hanson's comment. (Docs. 25-13 at p. 4;
33 at p. 1).
on October 28, 2015, Plaintiff Timothy Sallins sent a fax to
Lauren complaining about the comment Mr. Hanson made on July
25, 2015. (Doc. 25-13 at p. 6). On that same day, Plaintiffs
Patrick Sanders and Robert Sallins each sent a fax to
Defendant complaining about the comment made by Mr. Hanson on
July 25, 2015, and also stating that Mr. Hanson commented on
September 22, 2015: "I can't wait until you monkeys
get off my job site." (Id.; Doc. 33 at p. 1).
basis of these two comments, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant
violated Title VII by having a workplace "that is
permeated with discriminatory actions, intimidation,
ridicule, and insult that was sufficiently severe or
pervasive to alter the conditions of the plaintiffs'
employment and created an abusive workplace
environment." (See Doc. 1-2). Defendant timely removed
the matter to this Court, asserting federal jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (See Doc. 1).
motion, Defendant argues that Plaintiffs cannot establish
claims for racial harassment under Title VII because (1) many
of the individual Plaintiffs involved in this litigation were
not personally subject to the alleged unwelcome harassment,
(2) any alleged harassment was not severe or pervasive enough
to warrant the requested relief, and, alternatively, (3) any
harassment claims are barred by the Faragher/Ellerth
defense. (Doc. 25-1 at p. 8). Plaintiffs filed a memorandum
in opposition to the summary judgment motion, reiterating
many of the same allegations as stated in their Petition.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the
movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A party asserting that a fact cannot be
genuinely disputed must support the assertion by citing
materials in the record, including "depositions,
documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or
declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes
of the motion only), admissions, [and] interrogatory
answers" or that an adverse party cannot produce
admissible evidence to support the presence of a genuine
dispute. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).
a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the
adverse party must set forth specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (quotation
marks and footnote omitted). "This burden is not
satisfied with some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts, by conclusory allegations, by unsubstantiated
assertions, or by only a scintilla of evidence."
Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th
Cir. 1994) (quotation marks and citations omitted). In
determining whether the movant is entitled to summary
judgment, the Court "view[s] facts in the light most
favorable to the non-movant and draw[s] all reasonable
inferences in her favor." Coleman v. Houston Indep.
Sch. Dist., 113 F.3d 528, 533 (5th Cir. 1997).
summary judgment is appropriate if, "after adequate time
for discovery and upon motion, [the non-movant] fails to make
a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element
essential to that party's case, and on which that party
will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).