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Haskett v. T.S. Dudley Land Co.

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Galveston Division

September 18, 2017




         Plaintiff, Phillip David Haskett, filed this lawsuit on August 27, 2014, against Defendants T.S. Dudley Land Company, Inc.; "Unknown Clients of T.S. Dudley Land Company #l-#9;" and "Jon Doughs [sic] #1- #9." (Dkt. 1).

         Haskett is a Texas resident who is representing himself in this lawsuit pro se.[1]This is one of a series of similar lawsuits Haskett has filed in this Court, each alleging that various Defendants unlawfully discriminated against him because they failed to hire him because of his age. The live pleading in this case is Haskett's First Amended Complaint. (Dkt. 11).

         T.S. Dudley's answer specifically denied Haskett's allegations, asserting that it had legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for not hiring Haskett. T.S. Dudley also asserted several affirmative defenses, and counterclaimed against Haskett for abuse of process, contending that Haskett "litigates as a hobby and that he bragged about inventing phony claims to induce undeserved settlements." (Dkt. 32).

         T.S. Dudley has now moved for summary judgment on Haskett's ADEA claim against it. (Dkt. 54). T.S. Dudley contends that this Court should grant summary judgment because (1) the ADEA does not apply to the position Haskett sought; (2) Haskett was not qualified for the position he sought; and (3) there is no evidence to show that T.S. Dudley's nondiscriminatory reason for failing to hire Haskett was pretextual.

         Haskett has filed a response entitled "Dispute of Material Facts Relied on By Defendant T.S. Dudley's Motion for Summary Judgment." Dkt. 102. In that document, Haskett raised objections to the summary judgment evidence relied upon by T.S. Dudley and contended that there were genuine disputes of material fact in this case. Haskett attached two emails to his response.


         A. Summary Judgment Standards

         Summary judgment is appropriate 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(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994).

         If the movant produces evidence tending to show that there is no genuine dispute of material fact, the nonmovant must then direct the court's attention to evidence in the record sufficient to establish the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 321-323. The nonmovant must "go beyond the pleadings and by [his] own affidavits, or by depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial." Giles v. General Elec. Co., 245 F.3d 474, 493 (5th Cir. 2001), citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. The party opposing summary judgment is required to identify specific evidence in the record and to articulate the precise manner in which that evidence supports his claim. Ragas v. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., 136 F.3d 455, 458 (5th Cir. 1998). "If the nonmoving party fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to its case and on which it will bear the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment must be granted." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23.

         When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court is required to view all inferences drawn from the factual record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Eason v. Thaler, 73 F.3d 1322, 1325 (5th Cir. 1996). But summary judgment cannot be defeated through "[c]onclusional allegations and denials, speculation, improbable inferences, unsubstantiated assertions, and legalistic argumentation." Oliver v. Scott, 276 F.3d 736, 744 (5th Cir. 2002). Additionally, allegations in a plaintiffs complaint are not evidence. Wallace v. Texas Tech Univ., 80 F.3d 1042, 1047 (5th Cir. 1996) ("[P]leadings are not summary judgment evidence."); Johnston v. City of Houston, Tex., 14 F.3d 1056, 1060 (5th Cir. 1995) (for the party opposing the motion for summary | judgment, "only evidence-not argument, not facts in the complaint-will satisfy the burden."), citing Solo Serve Corp. v. Westown Assoc., 929 F.2d 160, 164 (5th Cir. 1991).

         Further, parties have the obligation to specifically point out the evidence upon which they rely. Rule 56(c)(1) provides that "[a] party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by ... citing to particular parts of materials in the record." FED. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A); Am. Fam. Life Assur. Co. of Columbus v. Biles, l\A F.3d 887, 896 (5th Cir. 2013). Under Rule 56(c)(3), "[t]he court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3). The Fifth Circuit has explained that, "Rule 56 does not impose upon the district court a duty to sift through the record in search of evidence to support a party's opposition to summary judgment." Adams v. Travelers Indem. Co. of Conn., 465 F.3d 156, 164 (5th Cir. 2006); see also Nissho-Iwai Am. Corp. v. Kline, 845 F.2d 1300, 1307 (5th Cir. 1988) (concluding that a deposition "was never made part of the competent summary judgment record before the district court" because the party opposing summary judgment "failed to designate, or in any way refer to, the deposition as the source of factual support" for its response to the summary judgment motion).

         The Court applies the above standards while remaining mindful that a pro se plaintiffs motions and pleadings are to be construed liberally. See, e.g., Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 92 S.Ct. 594, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972); Oliver v. Scott, 276 F.3d 736, 740 (5th Cir. 2002).

         B. Age ...

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