Oaks v. City of Fairhope, Ala., Civ. A. No. 80-0393-H.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
Writing for the CourtWillis C. Darby, Jr., Paul D. Myrick, John D. Richardson, Mobile, Ala., for defendants
Citation515 F. Supp. 1004
PartiesHilda Claire OAKS, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF FAIRHOPE, ALABAMA; The Board of Trustees of the Fairhope Public Library; James Nix; David Ed Bishop; Robert Mason; H. B. Shepherd; Henry G. Bishop; Samuel E. Box; Jack A. Stipes; Billy Don Wiggins; Trisha Nelson; and C. O. McCawley, Defendants.
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 80-0393-H.
Decision Date20 May 1981

515 F. Supp. 1004

Hilda Claire OAKS, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF FAIRHOPE, ALABAMA; The Board of Trustees of the Fairhope Public Library; James Nix; David Ed Bishop; Robert Mason; H. B. Shepherd; Henry G. Bishop; Samuel E. Box; Jack A. Stipes; Billy Don Wiggins; Trisha Nelson; and C. O. McCawley, Defendants.

Civ. A. No. 80-0393-H.

United States District Court, S. D. Alabama, S. D.

May 20, 1981.


515 F. Supp. 1005
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515 F. Supp. 1006
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515 F. Supp. 1007
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515 F. Supp. 1008
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515 F. Supp. 1009
J. U. Blacksher, Gregory B. Stein, Suzanne Paulson, C. Mike Smith, Mobile, Ala., for plaintiff

Willis C. Darby, Jr., Paul D. Myrick, John D. Richardson, Mobile, Ala., for defendants.

FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

HAND, District Judge.

This cause is before the court on the motion for summary judgment filed by defendants City of Fairhope, Board of Trustees of the Fairhope Public Library, James Nix, David Ed Bishop, Robert Mason, H. B. Shepherd, Samuel E. Box, Jack A. Stipes, Billy Don Wiggins, Trisha Nelson and C. O. McCawley (sometimes referred to collectively as "City of Fairhope"). The City of Fairhope seeks summary judgment on each claim asserted by plaintiff Hilda Claire Oaks (Oaks) on the ground that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the City of Fairhope is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Oaks subsequently responded to the motion for summary judgment as required by Local Rule 8 of this court.

In connection with her termination as director of the Fairhope Public Library, Oaks generally asserts a spate a federal civil rights and employment discrimination claims as well as state law defamation claims. The court is cognizant that summary judgment is perhaps "particularly inappropriate" in employment discrimination cases, because such cases necessarily involve examining motive and intent. Summary judgment should be used cautiously in such cases and all procedural requirements should be given strict adherence. See Bullard v. OMI Georgia, Inc., 640 F.2d 632 (5th Cir. 1981); Hayden v. First National Bank of Mt. Pleasant, 595 F.2d 994, 997 (5th Cir. 1979).1

515 F. Supp. 1010

In considering the motion for summary judgment, this court may not adjudicate factual issues. This court's duty is to determine whether or not there is an issue of fact to be tried. Hayden v. First National Bank of Mt. Pleasant, 595 F.2d 994 (5th Cir. 1979). Voluminous discovery has been conducted in this action. Twelve depositions (with exhibits) have been filed with the court; additionally, several affidavits and documentary exhibits have been submitted in connection with the motion for summary judgment. In reviewing the record, this court has viewed the facts together with all inferences drawn from the facts in the light most favorable to Oaks (the party opposing summary judgment). See Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970); 6 Moore's Federal Practice ¶ 56.153 (2d ed. 1976). The court has fully heeded the admonition of the Supreme Court in Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 266, 97 S.Ct. 555, 564, 50 L.Ed.2d 450 (1977):

Determining whether invidious discriminatory purpose was a motivating factor demands a sensitive inquiry into such circumstantial and direct evidence of intent as may be available.

Cognizant of the sensitive nature of Oaks' claims, the court has strictly adhered to the procedural requirements of summary judgment. This court may not, however, ignore the clear dictates of Rule 56, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. No civil action is immune from summary adjudication. See 6 Moore's Federal Practice ¶ 56.15(8) at 56-641 (2d ed. 1980); First National Bank of Arizona v. Cities Service Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289-90, 88 S.Ct. 1575, 1592-93, 20 L.Ed.2d 569 (1968) (on summary judgment, defendant successfully demonstrated that the facts were not susceptible of the "interpretation" plaintiff advanced). Even in employment discrimination cases, summary judgment will be granted, if appropriate. See e. g., Gatling v. Atlantic Richfield Co., 577 F.2d 185 (2d Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 861, 99 S.Ct. 181, 58 L.Ed.2d 169 (1978); Sagers v. Yellow Freight System, Inc., 529 F.2d 721, 728 n.13 (5th Cir. 1976) ("the fact that the party opposing summary judgment vigorously disputed the legal conclusions to be drawn from the facts presented by the movant was no bar to the grant of summary judgment"); Anderson v. Viking Pump Div., Houdaille Industries, 545 F.2d 1127 (8th Cir. 1976).

The City of Fairhope is entitled to summary judgment if there is no issue as to any material fact and if the City of Fairhope is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Although the City of Fairhope must demonstrate the absence of a material factual issue, when confronted with a properly supported motion for summary judgment, Oaks "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Rule 56(e), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

The Fifth Circuit long ago made clear that this court may not avoid its judicial obligation when presented a properly supported motion for summary judgment:

Litigants have no difficulty finding expressions urging courts to have a due regard for a cautious observance of the requirements of a summary judgment or, if they are appellees, they may find expressions that summary judgments are looked upon with favor. Barron & Holtzoff, however, make the pertinent observation: "Cases voicing such sentiments as that courts should be slow to grant summary judgment and that any errors should be on the side of caution, should be limited to their facts. Rule 56 itself provides that `the judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if * * * there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and * * * the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.'" 3 Barron & Holtzoff, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 1231.

Bruce v. Travelers Insurance Co., 266 F.2d 781, 786-87 (5th Cir. 1959).

515 F. Supp. 1011

The court has fully considered the pleadings and depositions on file, the affidavits and exhibits filed in connection with the motion for summary judgment, and the briefs of counsel for the respective parties, including Oaks' response to motion for summary judgment (hereafter cited "Oaks Response"). The court concludes that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that based upon the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, the City of Fairhope is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. Oaks is the former librarian at the Fairhope Public Library ("the Library"). Oaks was terminated as librarian effective September 30, 1979, and currently resides in Park Forest, Illinois, where she is the librarian at the Flossmoor Public Library. (Oaks at 6)2

2. Defendant City of Fairhope is an incorporated municipality in Baldwin County, Alabama. The City of Fairhope is authorized to establish and maintain, or aid in establishing and maintaining, a free public library for the use of the citizens of the City of Fairhope. (Complaint ¶ 3; Answer ¶ 3)

3. Defendant Board of Trustees of the Fairhope Public Library (Library Board) consists of five members appointed by the Fairhope City Council for four-year terms (Complaint ¶ 4; Answer ¶ 4); Library Board members serve without compensation. Code of Ala. 1975, § 11-90-2. During the relevant period, the following persons were members of the Library Board: David Ed Bishop, Robert Mason, H. B. Shepherd (each individual defendants), Stevi Gaston and Jason Kutack.

4. Defendant James Nix (Mayor Nix) is the mayor of the City of Fairhope. Oaks' action against Mayor Nix is in his individual capacity only. (Complaint ¶ 5; Answer ¶ 5)

5. Defendant David Ed Bishop (Bishop) is the chairman of the Library Board; he is also an elected member of the Fairhope City Council. Since he is a member of the Library Board, Bishop refrains from voting on any issue before the Fairhope City Council if the issue is connected with the Library or the Library Board. Oaks' action against Bishop is in his individual capacity only. (Complaint ¶ 6; Answer ¶ 6; Bishop Affidavit)

6. Defendants Robert Mason (Mason) and Reverend H. B. Shepherd (Shepherd) are each members of the Library Board; each is sued in his individual capacity only. (Complaint ¶ 7; Answer ¶ 7)

7. Defendants Samuel E. Box, Jack A. Stipes, Trisha Nelson and C. O. McCawley are each members or former members of the Fairhope City Council; each is sued in his or her individual capacity only (Complaint ¶ 8; Answer ¶ 8). Defendants Billy Don Wiggins and Henry G. Bishop are former members of the Fairhope City Council; each resigned from the Fairhope City Council on May 28, 1979, and neither has held any position with the City of Fairhope or with the Library Board since that time (Bishop Affidavit). On October 27, 1980, counsel for the City of Fairhope stated upon the record that Henry G. Bishop was deceased (Answer ¶ 8).

8. On May 1, 1979,3 Oaks filed Civil Action 79-0237-H against the City of Fairhope, the mayor of Fairhope, the members

515 F. Supp. 1012
of the Fairhope City Council and the members of the Library Board. The first Complaint set forth several state and federal claims. In pertinent part, Oaks alleged: first, a breach of a written contract of employment and a denial of property without due process of law under the fourteenth amendment; second, infringement of first and fourteenth amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of the press; and third, sex discrimination in violation of the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment

9. Civil Action 79-0237-H resulted in a negotiated Settlement Agreement on May 25, 1979 (Complaint ¶ 29; Answer ¶ 29). A copy of the Settlement Agreement is attached to the Complaint in this action and...

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29 practice notes
  • Lyes v. City of Riviera Beach, Fla., No. 96-4577
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • February 11, 1999
    ...or direct work assignments; [and] the obligation to pay or the duty to train the charging party.' " Oaks v. City of Fairhope, Ala., 515 F.Supp. 1004, 1035 (S.D.Ala.1981) (quoting Barbara Schlei and Paul Grossmann, Employment Discrimination Law 846 (1st ed.1976)). Our list of factors is not ......
  • Patterson v. Yazoo City, Miss., Civil Action No. 5:10–CV–00153–DCB–JMR.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Mississippi
    • February 24, 2012
    ...Of these factors, “centralized control of labor relations” is considered to be the most important. Id. (citing Oaks v. City of Fairhope, 515 F.Supp. 1004 (S.D.Ala.1981); Fike v. Gold Kist, Inc., 514 F.Supp. 722, 727 (N.D.Ala.1981); EEOC v. Cuzzens of Ga., 15 FEP 1807 (N.D.Ga.1977), rev'd on......
  • Martinez v. Winner, No. 82-BJ-199.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Colorado
    • July 30, 1982
    ...and must be based upon other alleged infringements of the plaintiff's federally protected rights. Oaks v. City of Fairhope, Ala., 515 F.Supp. 1004, 1045 (S.D.Ala. 1981). "Infringement of some federally protected right independent of § 1985(3) is required for a violation of the conspiracy st......
  • Chambers v. Omaha Girls Club, No. CV 83-L-38.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Nebraska
    • February 11, 1986
    ...policy was not in effect). 22 Section 1985(3) does not embrace a cause of action for due process violation. Oaks v. City of Fairhope, 515 F.Supp. 1004, 1045 (S.D.Ala.1981); Weise v. Reisner, 318 F.Supp. 580, 583 (E.D.Wis. 1970); Whittington v. Johnson, 201 F.2d 810, 811 (5th Cir.), cert. de......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
29 cases
  • Lyes v. City of Riviera Beach, Fla., No. 96-4577
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • February 11, 1999
    ...or direct work assignments; [and] the obligation to pay or the duty to train the charging party.' " Oaks v. City of Fairhope, Ala., 515 F.Supp. 1004, 1035 (S.D.Ala.1981) (quoting Barbara Schlei and Paul Grossmann, Employment Discrimination Law 846 (1st ed.1976)). Our list of factors is not ......
  • Patterson v. Yazoo City, Miss., Civil Action No. 5:10–CV–00153–DCB–JMR.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Mississippi
    • February 24, 2012
    ...Of these factors, “centralized control of labor relations” is considered to be the most important. Id. (citing Oaks v. City of Fairhope, 515 F.Supp. 1004 (S.D.Ala.1981); Fike v. Gold Kist, Inc., 514 F.Supp. 722, 727 (N.D.Ala.1981); EEOC v. Cuzzens of Ga., 15 FEP 1807 (N.D.Ga.1977), rev'd on......
  • Martinez v. Winner, No. 82-BJ-199.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Colorado
    • July 30, 1982
    ...and must be based upon other alleged infringements of the plaintiff's federally protected rights. Oaks v. City of Fairhope, Ala., 515 F.Supp. 1004, 1045 (S.D.Ala. 1981). "Infringement of some federally protected right independent of § 1985(3) is required for a violation of the conspiracy st......
  • Chambers v. Omaha Girls Club, No. CV 83-L-38.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Nebraska
    • February 11, 1986
    ...policy was not in effect). 22 Section 1985(3) does not embrace a cause of action for due process violation. Oaks v. City of Fairhope, 515 F.Supp. 1004, 1045 (S.D.Ala.1981); Weise v. Reisner, 318 F.Supp. 580, 583 (E.D.Wis. 1970); Whittington v. Johnson, 201 F.2d 810, 811 (5th Cir.), cert. de......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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