United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Valdosta Division
HUGH LAWSON, Senior District Judge.
This case is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 14). After reviewing the pleadings, briefs, affidavits, and other evidentiary materials presented, and determining that there is no genuine dispute of the material facts, the Court finds that Defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law and grants Defendants' motion.
I. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 requires that summary judgment be granted "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled the judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "The moving party bears the initial responsibility of informing the... court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answer to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.'" Hickson Corp. v. N. Crossarm Co. , 357 F.3d 1256, 1259 (11th Cir. 2004) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (internal quotations omitted)). Where the moving party makes such a showing, the burden shifts to the non-movant, who then must go beyond the pleadings and present affirmative evidence to show that a genuine issue of material fact does exist. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 257 (1986).
In resolving a motion for summary judgment, the court must view all evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Patton v. Trial Guar. Ins. Corp. , 277 F.3d 1294, 1296 (11th Cir. 2002). But, the court is bound only to draw those inferences which are reasonable. "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial." Allen v. Tyson Foods, Inc. , 121 F.3d 642, 646 (11th Cir. 1997) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson , 477 U.S. at 249-50 (internal citations omitted).
A. Local Rule 56
In compliance with Local Rule 56, Defendants filed a separate statement of material facts in which Defendants contend there is no genuine issue to be tried. (Doc. 15). Defendants properly numbered each factual statement and provided the support of a specific citation to the record. See M.D. Ga. L.R. 56.
Both Local Rule 56 and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e) require Plaintiff as the non-moving party to respond to each of the movants' numbered material facts. "All material facts contained in the moving party's statement which are not specifically controverted by specific citation to the record shall be deemed to have been admitted, unless otherwise appropriate." M.D. Ga. L.R. 56. Plaintiff neglected to file any response to the statement of material facts. Accordingly, the facts contained in Defendants' statement are deemed admitted.
The Court notes that Defendants' filed the pending motion on January 21, 2014. After receiving no response from Plaintiff, the Court entered an order granting summary judgment on March 7, 2014. (Doc. 20). That same date, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Set Aside Order (Doc. 22), informing the Court that neither Plaintiff nor Plaintiff's counsel received a copy of Defendants' motion and requesting the opportunity to respond. Even after the Court agreed to vacate the order and afforded Plaintiff time to file a response, Plaintiff failed outright to respond to the Defendants' statement of material facts or to provide a well-researched, well-articulated defense to Defendants' motion supported by precise citations to the record, which, in the Court's opinion, is equivalent to filing no response at all. The Court cautions Plaintiff's counsel to remember his duty under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 11 to refrain from making frivolous arguments to the Court and wasting valuable time and resources.
Even in the absence of a response, the Court "cannot base the entry of summary judgment on the mere fact that the motion was unopposed, but rather, must consider the merits of the motion." United States v. One Piece of Real Prop. Located at 5800 SW 74th Ave., Miami, Fla. , 363 F.3d 1099, 1011 (11th Cir. 2004). Defendant "continues to shoulder the initial burden of production in demonstrating the absence of any genuine issue of material fact, and the court must satisfy itself that the burden has been satisfactorily discharged." Reese v. Herbert , 527 F.3d 1253, 1268 (11th Cir. 2008). The Court must "review the movant's citations to the record to determine if there is, indeed, no genuine issue of material fact." Id. at 1269 (quotation and internal quotation marks omitted). The Court has so reviewed the record, and viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, finds the facts for purposes of summary judgment to be as follows.
B. Relevant Factual Background
Plaintiff is a Hispanic male. He was hired by the City of Moultrie in January of 2006 to work as a police officer. Plaintiff resigned his employment with the City on March 3, 2013.
Hope Allen is an African-American female. She began working for the City as a police officer on July 9, 2012. Shortly after Ms. Allen was hired, she was placed on a shift supervised by Sergeant Daniel Lindsay. Plaintiff also worked on Sergeant Lindsay's shift at this time. Corporal Rocky Hancock was assigned as Ms. Allen's field training ...