Damron v. Yellow Freight System, Inc.

Decision Date26 June 1998
Docket NumberNo. 4:97CV-051.,4:97CV-051.
Citation18 F.Supp.2d 812
PartiesLeroy DAMRON, Plaintiff, v. YELLOW FREIGHT SYSTEM, INC., Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Tennessee

Leroy Damron, Shelbyville, pro se.

Anderson B. Scott, Fisher & Phillips, Atlanta, GA, Wade Cowan, Williams & Associates, Nashville, TN, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM

EDGAR, District Judge.

Plaintiff Leroy Damron ("Damron") has brought this employment discrimination action seeking damages and injunctive relief pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 — 634, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e — 2000e-17. There are three motions before the Court. First, defendant Yellow Freight System, Inc. ("Yellow Freight") moves for summary judgment to dismiss Damron's complaint under FED. R. CIV. P. 56. (Court File No. 23). After reviewing the record, the Court concludes the motion is well taken and it will be GRANTED. Damron's complaint will be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

Second, Damron filed a motion on May 13, 1998, to extend discovery. (Court File No. 53). The motion will be DENIED. Damron has had more than ample time to complete his pretrial discovery. The Court entered a scheduling order on August 20, 1997, which established May 15, 1998, as the deadline for completing all pretrial discovery. (Court File No. 10). Damron has not given a sufficient reason why the discovery deadline should be extended. Moreover, the motion is moot because the Court has decided to grant Yellow Freight's summary judgment motion and dismiss the complaint. Damron does not contend in his motion that he needs any more time to take discovery for the purpose of responding to Yellow Freight's summary judgment motion.

Third, Yellow Freight has moved to impose sanctions on Damron pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 11 for filing a frivolous lawsuit. (Court File No. 25). The Court will RESERVE ruling on the motion until it has determined whether Yellow Freight complied with the "safe harbor" provision in Rule 11(c)(1)(A).

I. Summary Judgment Standard of Review

We begin our analysis with the motion for summary judgment. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c) provides that summary judgment will be rendered if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The burden is on the moving party to conclusively show that no genuine issue of material fact exists, and the Court must view the facts and all inferences to be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Morris v. Crete Carrier Corp., 105 F.3d 279, 280-81 (6th Cir.1997); White v. Turfway Park Racing Ass'n, Inc., 909 F.2d 941, 943 (6th Cir.1990); 60 Ivy Street Corp. v. Alexander, 822 F.2d 1432, 1435 (6th Cir.1987).

Once the moving party presents evidence sufficient to support a motion under Rule 56, the nonmoving party is not entitled to a trial merely on the basis of allegations. The nonmoving party is required to come forward with some significant probative evidence which makes it necessary to resolve the factual dispute at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); White, 909 F.2d at 943-44; 60 Ivy Street, 822 F.2d at 1435. The moving party is entitled to summary judgment if the nonmoving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of its case with respect to which it has the burden of proof. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548; Collyer v. Darling, 98 F.3d 211, 220 (6th Cir.1996).

The judge's function at the point of summary judgment is limited to determining whether sufficient evidence has been presented to make the issue of fact a proper jury question, and not to weigh the evidence, judge the credibility of witnesses, and determine the truth of the matter. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); 60 Ivy Street, 822 F.2d at 1435-36. The standard for summary judgment mirrors the standard for directed verdict. The Court must determine "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505; see also Lapeer County, Mich. v. Montgomery County, Ohio, 108 F.3d 74, 78 (6th Cir. 1997). There must be some probative evidence from which the jury could reasonably find for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505; Bailey v. Floyd County Bd. Of Educ., 106 F.3d 135, 140 (6th Cir.1997). If the Court concludes that a fair-minded jury could not return a verdict in favor of the nonmoving party based on the evidence presented, it may enter a summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505; University of Cincinnati v. Arkwright Mut. Ins. Co., 51 F.3d 1277, 1280 (6th Cir.1995); LaPointe v. UAW, Local 600, 8 F.3d 376, 378 (6th Cir. 1993).

II. Facts

The Court has reviewed the record in the light most favorable to Damron and makes the following findings of fact. Damron is a citizen of Tennessee who currently resides in Shelbyville, Tennessee. He was born in Detroit, Michigan, on August 1, 1943, and is a natural born United States citizen. Yellow Freight is a national trucking corporation and interstate common carrier doing business in Tennessee whose hourly employees are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union.

Damron was initially hired by Yellow Freight at its Nashville, Tennessee terminal on October 10, 1992, when Damron was 49 years old. He was employed in the position of casual truck driver. The decision to hire Damron was made by Yellow Fright's Nashville Linehaul Manager Leonard Foster ("Foster"). Foster was also the person who subsequently made the decision over two years later on February 23, 1995, to terminate Damron's employment as a casual driver.

Casual truck drivers work for Yellow Freight on a part-time basis, as needed. Whenever freight volume is heavy or regular drivers are not available, Yellow Freight contacts its casual drivers to work. The procedure for calling Damron and the other casual drivers was dictated by Yellow Freight's contract with the Teamsters union. Yellow Freight explains the standard procedure as follows. Each casual driver fills out a "T-card" indicating when he or she can be available for work. When Yellow Freight has a need for casual drivers, it telephones the persons who have indicated their availability. Any casual driver who either does not accept a work assignment when offered or is not available as indicated on their T-card is moved or rotated to the bottom of the call-list thereby making it less likely that he or she will be called again by Yellow Freight in the future. Casual drivers who are repeatedly unavailable are dropped or removed from the list and are no longer offered work assignments.

The system for assigning casual drivers is designed under the terms of the union contract to ensure maximum work for regular, full-time drivers. Yellow Freight emphasizes that when it perceives a need for casual drivers, it only has an hour-long window of opportunity known as a "call block" to contact the casual drivers and promptly make arrangements for them to report for work. After the one hour call block expires, Yellow Freight is required to wait three hours to ascertain whether any of its regular drivers will finish their federally mandated rest periods and report for work. Only at the end of this three-hour waiting period does Yellow Freight have another call block to contact needed casual drivers.

According to Yellow Freight, the consequences of not obtaining enough casual drivers during the first call block to drive waiting freight trucks are severe. It means that a truck may be delayed for as much as four hours while Yellow Freight's dispatchers wait the three-hour period required by the union contract to ascertain the availability and status of regular drivers before starting the next call block to find available casual drivers. Yellow Freight operates a hub and spoke system where freight is relayed from terminal to terminal. Its trucking runs are timed so that inbound freight can be promptly distributed to outbound trailer trucks which then depart on their leg or portion of the relay. For example, a freight delay in Yellow Freight's terminal in Nashville, Tennessee, means that trucks at other terminals will also be delayed while they wait for the trucks from Nashville to arrive.

Failure to obtain a casual driver during the first call block can have a domino-effect and spread delay throughout Yellow Freight's delivery system. Because of the one-hour time constraint and restriction on the call block, the adverse effects of not quickly obtaining enough drivers, and the large number of casual drivers who occasionally are needed, Yellow Freight's dispatchers are often very rushed and hurried during the call blocks. The dispatchers must obtain the necessary number of casual drivers as soon as possible or the delivery of freight to customers may be substantially delayed. Based on these circumstances, Yellow Freight dispatchers often do not have time to leave messages for casual drivers on telephone answering machines or pagers. Dispatchers often treat anything other than immediate contact with a live person by telephone as the equivalent of the casual driver not being available. The unavailable casual driver's T-card is consequently moved to the bottom of the call list.

Moreover, there is no guarantee that a casual driver will receive a telephone call from a Yellow Freight dispatcher even when the driver happens to be available. Under the union contract, regular drivers have priority and they can "bump" casual drivers during a call block...

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