Green v. Graham, Civil Act. No: 2:15-cv-697-SMD

CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
Writing for the CourtStephen M. Doyle, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Citation476 F.Supp.3d 1182
Parties Anthony L. GREEN, Plaintiff, v. Jackie B. GRAHAM, et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberCivil Act. No: 2:15-cv-697-SMD
Decision Date28 July 2020

476 F.Supp.3d 1182

Anthony L. GREEN, Plaintiff,
Jackie B. GRAHAM, et al., Defendants.

Civil Act. No: 2:15-cv-697-SMD

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division.

Signed July 28, 2020

476 F.Supp.3d 1188

James Flynn Mozingo, Benjamin Joseph Espy, Melton Espy & Williams, PC, Montgomery, AL, for Plaintiff.

Alice Ann Byrne, Tara S. Hetzel, Laury Baswell Morgan, Alabama State Personnel Department, Barbara Jean Wells, Blake Edward Brookshire, Jerusha Tatiana Adams, Capell & Howard, P.C., Patricia Romano Osuch, Montgomery, AL, for Defendant Jackie B. Graham.

Barbara Jean Wells, Jerusha Tatiana Adams, Blake Edward Brookshire, Capell & Howard, P.C., Tara S. Hetzel, Laury Baswell Morgan, Alice Ann Byrne, Alabama State Personnel Department, Montgomery, AL, for Defendants Faye Nelson, Myron Penn, Evan M. Thornton, David R. Mellon.

Barbara Jean Wells, Blake Edward Brookshire, Jerusha Tatiana Adams, Capell & Howard, P.C., Laury Baswell Morgan, AL State Personnel Dept., Montgomery, AL, for Defendant Rachel Adams.




Plaintiff Anthony L. Green (Green) is a Special Agent (SA) with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). He brings equal protection and due process claims under the United States and Alabama constitutions alleging that he is entitled to Tier 1 State Policeman retirement, the State's most lucrative and expensive employee retirement plan, because he investigates crimes and therefore meets the definition of "State Policeman" found in the statute governing the Alabama State Employees’ Retirement System. Ala. Code § 36-27-1 (23) (1975). Before the Court are plaintiff's and defendants’ cross motions for summary judgment. (Docs. 128 & 129). There are no material facts in dispute, and for the reasons that follow, defendants’ motion for summary judgment is GRANTED and plaintiff's is DENIED.

476 F.Supp.3d 1189


SA Green brings official-capacity equal protection and due process claims under the United States and Alabama constitutions against the Alabama State Director of Personnel, Jackie Graham (Graham), and the members of the Alabama State Personnel Board, Faye Nelson, Rachel Adams, Myron Penn, Evan M. Thornton, and David R. Mellon (the Personnel Board). 2d Amd. Compl. (Doc. 92) ¶¶ 6-11. Plaintiff alleges that because his primary duty is to investigate crimes, he "is a state policeman as defined by the retirement act, Ala. Code § 36-27-1 (23)," and that Graham and others have wrongfully "excluded [him] from participation in the state policeman retirement program[.]" Id. ¶¶ 49, 31. He seeks declaratory and injunctive relief ordering that he be permitted to participate in the enhanced retirement program for state policemen and attorneys’ fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988. Id. ¶¶ 55-58.


Summary judgment is appropriate when "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). When the non-moving party bears the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment is warranted if the nonmovant fails to "make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to [its] case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The legal elements of the plaintiff's claim dictate which facts are material and which are irrelevant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby , 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A fact is not material if a dispute over that fact will not affect the outcome of the case under the governing law. Id. "If the nonmoving party cannot muster sufficient evidence to make out its claim, a trial would be useless and the moving party is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law." Celotex , 477 U.S. at 331, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (White, J., concurring).

The court must view the proffered evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant and resolve all reasonable doubts about the facts in the nonmovant's favor. Johnson v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. of Ga. , 263 F.3d 1234, 1243 (11th Cir. 2001). However, a mere scintilla of evidence in support of a position is insufficient; the nonmovant must produce sufficient evidence to enable a jury to rule in his favor. Id. The Eleventh Circuit explains that "[s]imply put, the plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Id. (internal quotes and citations omitted).


A. The Alabama State Employee Retirement System

The Employees’ Retirement System of Alabama administers three different retirement plans with different benefits, terms, and rates for different groups of state employees. An employee's retirement plan is determined by their job classification under the State's Merit System Act. Ala. Code § 36-26-11. Classifications are the responsibility of the State Director of Personnel, Jackie Graham, who reports to the State Personnel Board. Ala. Code § 36-26-4. Job classifications are created, abolished, or modified depending on the needs of the State, and the State currently has approximately 1,300 separate job classifications.

476 F.Supp.3d 1190

Graham Affidavit (Doc. 131-1) ¶¶ 4-6.

The State's most generous and expensive retirement plan is "State Policeman," which applies to "employee[s] in the classified service under the Merit System Act approved by the State Personnel Board to perform the duties of highway patrolman or a beverage control agent or a crime investigator." Ala. Code § 36-27-1 (23) (1975). This retirement plan was created to give enhanced benefits to law enforcement officers who were not covered by federal Social Security. Graham Affidavit (Doc. 131-1) ¶¶ 7, 33. At the time of its enactment, "highway patrolman," "beverage control agent," and "crime investigator" were job classifications under the Merit System Act. Id. at ¶¶ 7-8. Over time, the highway patrolman and crime investigator classifications were renamed and merged into the current State Trooper series of classifications. Id. at ¶¶ 8.

The next most generous retirement plan is "Law Enforcement," which applies to correctional officers, firefighters, and law enforcement officers who are not covered by the "State Policeman" plan. Ala. Code § 36-27-59 (1975). These employees receive Social Security, and the plan's enhanced benefits recognize the hazardous nature of these jobs. See, id. All other employees in the Employee Retirement System fall into the least generous "State Employee" plan. Each of these three plans has a more generous Tier I for employees hired before January 1, 2013, and a stingier Tier II for employees hired after that date. Ala. Code § 36-27-1 (24-27) (1975). The Alabama legislature created the Tier II plans in an effort to control the costs of the State's defined-benefit plans. Graham Affidavit (Doc. 131-1) at ¶¶ 24-27. It also closed the State Policeman plan to new participants effective January 1, 2015, and placed new ALEA hires, including newly-hired State Troopers, who would formerly qualify for State Policeman retirement, into the cheaper Tier II Law Enforcement plan. Ala. Code § 36-27-1 (23) (1975).

B. Job Classification # 11280-483, Special Agent-ABI Option

In 2008, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) sought a new job classification of "Special Agent-ABI Option" to allow it to hire ten experienced criminal investigators to work for the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI). Conner Affidavit (Doc. 128-3) ¶ 3; Graham Affidavit (Doc. 131-1) ¶ 21; Green Dep. (Doc. 128-22) at 27-28. Prior to the creation of this new classification, all ABI agents were hired from the ranks of State Troopers, and they retained their Trooper classification series. Id. DPS explained that it required the new job classification because it needed more ABI agents to investigate crimes and assigning Troopers to these positions had the unwanted consequence of reducing the number of Troopers available to patrol the highways and investigate traffic accidents. Graham Affidavit (Doc. 131-1) ¶ 21. In addition, Troopers generally required additional lengthy training to acquire the skills necessary to perform the job. Id. ; Green Dep. (Doc. 128-22) at 28.

Trooper Major Jerry Conner was personally involved in creating the new classification. Conner Affidavit (Doc. 128-3) ¶ 3. He modeled the position on the job classification for agents working in the Alabama Attorney General's Office: "Special Agent - AGO Option." Id. at ¶ 4. The Alabama legislature granted AGO Special Agents "State Policeman" retirement through specific statutory authorization. Ala. Code § 36-15-6 (1975) ("all investigators appointed pursuant to this section shall be entitled to ... participation in any retirement plan

476 F.Supp.3d 1191

afforded state troopers").1 See also Graham Affidavit (Doc. 131-1) ¶ 20. Major...

To continue reading

Request your trial
1 cases
  • Darnell v. Yamaha Motor Corp., Case No.: 2:17-cv-00202-MHH
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • 4 Agosto 2020
    ...Court will grant Yamaha's motion for summary judgment as to Ms. Darnell's claim for breach of the implied warranty of merchantability.476 F.Supp.3d 1182 DONE and ORDERED this August 4, 2020.--------Notes:1 Yamaha also has moved to exclude Ms. Darnell's expert witness. (Doc. 50). And Ms. Dar......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT