United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
L. C. FELDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are four motions by Next Production, LLC: (1)
motion for discovery sanctions or, in the alternative, to
extend trial and defendant's expert deadlines and to
award costs; (2) motion for summary judgment; (3) motion
in limine to exclude all evidence, reference to, and
argument concerning plaintiff's unalleged wage claim; and
(4) motion in limine to limit plaintiff's
alleged damages. For the reasons that follow, the motion for
summary judgment is GRANTED, and the remaining motions are
DENIED as moot.
an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) case in which the
plaintiff, pro se, alleges that he suffers from
anxiety and depression, and that the defendant failed to
accommodate his disability and wrongfully terminated his
employment as a Key Assistant Location Manager on the
production of Season 2 of the MTV television series
Allen Peterson sued Next Production, L.L.C. on September 22,
2016, alleging that Next Production refused to provide him
with reasonable accommodations and fired him, in violation of
the ADA, because his major depressive and anxiety disorders
made it difficult for him to maintain the grueling work
schedule demanded of him. This case is set for trial on
September 25, 2017. In June 2017, the Court granted the
defendant's motion to extend its expert report deadline
after the plaintiff cancelled the independent medical exam
scheduled by the parties. The plaintiff again cancelled the
rescheduled independent medical exam in spite of a July 19,
2017 order compelling his attendance. This prompted the
defendant's motion for discovery sanctions; the
plaintiff's failure to submit to the examination rendered
the defendant incapable of complying with its August 9, 2017
deadline to submit expert reports.
August 4, 2017, the Court granted the defendant's motion
for expedited hearing on its motion for discovery sanctions
and further ordered the plaintiff to file his response or
opposition papers no later than August 8, 2017. The Court
expressly ordered: “If Mr. Peterson fails to timely
file papers into the record addressing the defendant's
motion, the Court will treat Mr. Peterson's silence as
abandonment of his case and acquiescence to the
defendant's motion for discovery sanctions.” Next
Production now moves for discovery sanctions, summary relief,
and to limit or exclude some aspects of the plaintiff's
claims or damages at trial. Not only has Mr. Peterson failed
to respond to the defendant's motion for discovery
sanctions, but he has also failed to respond to the
defendant's motion for summary judgment and its two
motions in limine.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 instructs that summary judgment is
proper if the record discloses no genuine dispute as to any
material fact such that the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. No genuine dispute of fact
exists if the record taken as a whole could not lead a
rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party.
See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). A genuine dispute of
fact exists only "if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving
party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
Court emphasizes that the mere argued existence of a factual
dispute does not defeat an otherwise properly supported
motion. See id. Therefore, "[i]f the evidence
is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative,
" summary judgment is appropriate. Id. at
249-50 (citations omitted). Summary judgment is also proper
if the party opposing the motion fails to establish an
essential element of his case. See Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). In this regard,
the non-moving party must do more than simply deny the
allegations raised by the moving party. See Donaghey v.
Ocean Drilling & Exploration Co., 974 F.2d 646, 649
(5th Cir. 1992). Rather, he must come forward with competent
evidence, such as affidavits or depositions, to buttress his
claims. Id. Hearsay evidence and unsworn documents
that cannot be presented in a form that would be admissible
in evidence at trial do not qualify as competent opposing
evidence. Martin v. John W. Stone Oil Distrib.,
Inc., 819 F.2d 547, 549 (5th Cir. 1987); Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)(2). "[T]he nonmoving party cannot defeat summary
judgment with conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated
assertions, or only a scintilla of evidence."
Hathaway v. Bazany, 507 F.3d 312, 319 (5th Cir.
2007)(internal quotation marks and citation omitted). In
deciding whether a fact issue exists, courts must view the
facts and draw reasonable inferences in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party. Scott v. Harris,
550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007). Although the Court must
"resolve factual controversies in favor of the nonmoving
party, " it must do so "only where there is an
actual controversy, that is, when both parties have submitted
evidence of contradictory facts." Antoine v. First
Student, Inc., 713 F.3d 824, 830 (5th Cir.
2013)(internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
Disability Discrimination/Wrongful Termination
plaintiff has only circumstantial evidence of discrimination,
the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework
governs the summary judgment inquiry into the plaintiff's
claim for wrongful termination under the Americans with
Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101. McInnis v.
Alamo Cmty. Coll. Dist., 207 F.3d 276, 279 (5th Cir.
2000). The plaintiff ...