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Carr v. Wal-Mart Louisiana, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

July 22, 2019

SONYA CARR
v.
WAL-MART LOUISIANA, LLC

          KAY, MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          JAMES D. CAIN, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the court is a Motion for Summary Judgment [doc. 33] filed by defendant Wal-Mart Louisiana, LLC ("Wal-Mart") in response to the amended wrongful termination suit filed by plaintiff Sonya Carr. Carr opposes the motion, which is now ripe for review.

         I.

         Background

         This suit began with a pro se complaint filed in the 33rd Judicial District Court, Allen Parish, Louisiana, by Sonya Carr. See doc. 1, att. 3. There Carr alleged that she had worked at a Wal-Mart store in Oakdale, Louisiana, from February 2006 until she was terminated on October 4, 2016. Id. at ¶¶ 2-3. She also alleged that store manager Brent Dietz fired her out of personal animus, as demonstrated by a write-up he issued to her in July 2016 and based on his contention that she could no longer do her job after she took a few weeks of medical leave in September 2016. Id. at ¶¶ 3-6, 9. Accordingly, she filed suit against Wal-Mart on October 3, 2017, asserting that she was "terminated due to discrimination." Id. at ¶ 9.

         Wal-Mart removed the matter to this court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Doc. 1. It moved to dismiss the suit under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), based on Carr's failure to demonstrate how her termination violated any state or federal law. Doc. 5. Counsel enrolled on Carr's behalf and opposed the motion. Docs. 18, 19. Counsel asserted that Carr's complaint provided adequate support for a claim of wrongful termination under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq. Doc. 18, p. 2. The court disagreed, finding the allegations were inadequate to support such a claim, but allowed Carr time to amend her complaint. Docs. 20, 21.

         Carr filed an amended petition through counsel. Doc. 22. There she alleged that (1) her September 2016 leave was covered by FMLA; (2) she had been certified as eligible to return to work on September 26, 2016; and (3) she was nonetheless terminated for inability to perform her work on October 4, 2016. Id. Accordingly, she claimed that Wal-Mart terminated her in retaliation for exercising her right to leave under the FMLA. Id.

         Wal-Mart now moves for summary judgment. Doc. 33. It asserts that Carr was fired for insubordination and poor job performance, and that she cannot provide any evidence of retaliatory motive. Doc. 33, att. 1. Carr opposes the motion and Wal-Mart has filed a reply. Docs. 38, 39.

         II.

         Law & Application

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         A court should grant a motion for summary judgment when 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. The party moving for summary judgment is initially responsible for identifying portions of pleadings and discovery that show the lack of a genuine issue of material fact. Tubacex, Inc. v. M/V Risan, 45 F.3d 951, 954 (5th Cir. 1995). The court must deny the motion for summary judgment if the movant fails to meet this burden. Id.

         If the movant makes this showing, however, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986) (quotations omitted). This requires more than mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleadings. Instead, the nonmovant must submit "significant probative evidence" in support of his claim. State Farm Life Ins. Co. v. Gutterman,896 F.2d 116, 118 (5th Cir. 1990). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or ...


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