United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
FISH Senior United States District Judge.
the court is the defendants' motion for summary judgment
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (docket entry 52) and the motion
of the plaintiff to strike the defendants' summary
judgment evidence (docket entry 56). For the reasons stated
below, the defendants' motion is granted and the
plaintiff's motion is denied.
plaintiff, Yvette Coleman (“Coleman”), an African
American woman, was employed as an anti-money laundering
representative for the defendant, Bank of America, N.A.
(“the Bank”), since January 2011. Defendants'
Memorandum in Support of Their Motion for Summary Judgment
(“Supporting Memorandum”) at 4 (docket entry 53);
Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (“Second
Amended Complaint”) ¶¶ 8, 16 (docket entry
40). Coleman's suit arises from her termination from the
Bank on April 20, 2016. According to the Bank, Coleman was
terminated due to activity on her personal, joint checking
account she held with her mother at the Bank. Supporting
Memorandum at 4, 6. The Bank trains its tellers to report
transactions or actions by customers that might violate
banking laws and regulations. Id. at 4. The
Bank's employee handbook states “[y]ou must not
take any action, either personally or on behalf of the
company, that will violate any law or regulation affecting
our business.” Id. Likewise, the Bank's
code of conduct states “[w]e must not take any action,
either personally or on behalf of Bank of America, which
violates any law, rule, regulations or internal Company
policies or procedures.” Id.
Bank must file a currency transaction report
(“CTR”) for “each deposit, withdrawal,
exchange of currency, or other payment or transfer, by,
through, or to such financial institution which involves a
transaction in currency of more than $10, 000.” 31
C.F.R. § 1010.311. It is illegal to structure or attempt
to structure any transaction to evade this requirement. 31
U.S.C. § 5324(a)(3); 31 C.F.R. § 1010.314(c). A
person structures a transaction if:
[T]hat person, acting alone, or in conjunction with, or on
behalf of, other persons, conducts or attempts to conduct one
or more transactions in currency, in any amount, at one or
more financial institutions, on one or more days, in any
manner, for the purpose of evading the reporting requirements
under § 1010.311. . . .
31 C.F.R. § 1010.100(xx).
any manner” includes, but is not limited to, “the
breaking down of a single sum of currency exceeding $10, 000
into smaller sums, including sums at or below $10, 000, or
the conduct of a transaction, or series of currency
transactions at or below $10, 000.” Id. The
transaction or transactions need not exceed the $10, 000
threshold at any single financial institution on any single
day to constitute structuring. Id.
Bank asserts that on February 10, 2016, a teller at one of
the Bank's Dallas area branches reported through its
transaction reporting management system (“TRMS”)
a transaction by Coleman, who was there as a customer.
Supporting Memorandum at 4. The teller reported that Coleman
withdrew $9, 500 cash, wanted to move money from her account
at the Bank to an account at another bank, and wanted to
avoid filling out the paperwork. Id. The teller
reported that after she told Coleman she could fill out a CTR
if she needed to take out more, Coleman said she would just
take some out little by little. Id. Then, on
February 18, 2016, a teller at another Dallas area branch
reported through TRMS that Coleman wanted to withdraw $9, 500
cash after already cashing a check for over $600.
Id. at 5. After she told Coleman she had to file a
CTR, she decided to withdraw $9, 000 to avoid the CTR.
Id. These TRMS reports were given to Cheri Lollman
(“Lollman”), a senior investigator at the Bank.
Id. While reviewing Coleman's transaction
history, Lollman found additional transactions just below the
CTR threshold: on March 7, 2016, Coleman withdrew $8, 000
cash; on March 17, 2016, Coleman wrote a check to herself for
$9, 500; and on April 12, 2016, Coleman withdrew $9, 000
Bank contends that on April 18, 2016, Lollman spoke with
Jeremy Kaster (“Kaster”), Coleman's
third-level manager, and said she needed to talk with Coleman
about her account activity. Id. Later that day,
Lollman spoke with Coleman, and Coleman confirmed that she
completed the Bank's financial crimes compliance
training. Id. She also confirmed that she changed a
withdrawal amount after being told a CTR would have to be
completed because she did not want to do the paperwork.
Id. at 5-6. Coleman asked why she was being
questioned, and Lollman explained that her activity showed a
pattern of structuring. Id. at 6.
asserts that she did not engage in structuring because she
used the money for lawful reasons, and because she did not
attempt to conceal the money's origin or the nature of
the transactions. Second Amended Complaint ¶ 9. Coleman
explained to Lollman that the money was the proceeds of an
insurance check payable to her mother for personal items
stolen from her mother's house, that she was moving the
money from the joint account to her own account at another
bank, and that she then used the money to pay contractors and
buy supplies. Supporting Memorandum at 6. Lollman concluded,
however, that Coleman's personal banking activity was
consistent with structuring. Id.
April 20, 2016, Lollman spoke with Vince Dubman
(“Dubman”), an employee relations consultant, and
explained that Coleman's banking activity was consistent
with structuring. Id. Dubman decided that
Coleman's employment should be terminated because
violating the law is against the Bank's employee handbook
and code of conduct. Id. Dubman and Lollman then
called Tommy Brock (“Brock”), Coleman's
second-level manager, and explained that Coleman's
banking activity was consistent with structuring and
recommended that Coleman be terminated. Id. at 6-7.
Both Brock and Kaster supported and accepted the
recommendation. Id. at 7. On April 20, 2016, Kaster
and Brock informed Coleman that her employment was terminated
effective immediately. Id.
contends that the Bank's reason for terminating her was a
pretext for racial discrimination. Second Amended Complaint
¶ 9. Coleman asserts that a few days before her
termination, Kevin Bennett (“Bennett”), a white
male co-worker, sent an e-mail complaint about Coleman and
requested that she be terminated. Id. ¶ 11.
Coleman alleges that “the complaint surrounded an
incident where she reproached Bennett for being reckless and
hitting her with a door.” Id. Coleman implies
that the complaint played a role in her termination.
brought her original complaint against Bank of America,
Corporation on May 26, 2016. See Plaintiff's
Original Complaint (docket entry 1). Coleman alleged one
count of discriminatory termination on the basis of race in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (“Title
VII”). Id. at 3. On July 20, 2016, Coleman
amended her complaint to substitute the proper defendant,
Bank of America, N.A. See Plaintiff's First
Amended Complaint (docket entry 15). On March 29, 2017,
Coleman amended her complaint again to add a retaliation
claim against the Bank, to add two individual defendants,
Kaster and Brock, and to add a defamation claim against
Kaster and Brock. See Second Amended Complaint. Her
claims now include: racial discrimination under Title VII and
42 U.S.C. § 1981 (“Section 1981”);
retaliation under Title VII, Section 1981, and 42 U.S.C.
§ 12101 (“FMLA”); and defamation against
Kaster and Brock. Id.
defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment,
their supporting memorandum, and supporting appendix on May
26, 2017. See Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment (docket entry 52); Supporting Memorandum;
Defendants' Appendix in Support of Their Motion for
Summary Judgment (“Appendix in Support”) (docket
entry 54). On June 16, 2017, the plaintiff filed a motion to
strike the defendants' summary judgment evidence. Motion
to Strike Defendants' Summary Judgment Evidence
(“Plaintiff's Motion to Strike”) (docket
entry 56). On July 7, 2017, the defendants filed a timely
reply in ...