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Reaves v. Morris-Shea Bridge Co. Inc.

United States District Court, Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division

March 23, 2015

MARVIN STANLEY REAVES, Plaintiff,
v.
MORRIS-SHEA BRIDGE COMPANY, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

SHARON LOVELACE BLACKBURN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

This case is presently pending before the court on plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, (doc. 29);[1] defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, (doc. 32); and defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on the Scope of Backpay Period, (doc. 36.) Plaintiff Marvin Stanley Reaves has sued his former employer, defendant Morris-Shea Bridge Company, alleging that defendant terminated him and/or refused to return him to an equivalent position in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act ["FMLA"]. Upon consideration of the record, the submissions of the parties, the arguments of counsel, and the relevant law, the court is of the opinion that defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, (doc. 32), is due to be granted; the remaining motions, (docs. 29 and 36), will be denied as moot.

I. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), summary judgment is appropriate “if 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); Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991); see Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970). Once the moving party has met its burden, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and show that there is a genuine issue of fact for trial. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). A dispute is genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by:

(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1); see also Clark, 929 F.2d at 608 (“it is never enough simply to state that the non-moving party cannot meet its burden at trial”).

In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court’s function is not to “weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. “[C]ourts are required to view the facts and draw reasonable inferences ‘in the light most favorable to the party opposing the [summary judgment] motion.’” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007)(quoting United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962)(per curiam)). Nevertheless, the non-moving party “need not be given the benefit of every inference but only of every reasonable inference.” Graham v. State Farm Mut. Ins. Co., 193 F.3d 1274, 1282 (11th Cir. 1999)(citing Brown v. City of Clewiston, 848 F.2d 1534, 1540 n.12 (11th Cir. 1988)); see also Scott, 550 U.S. at 380 (“When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.”).

II. DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Doc. 32.)

A. STATEMENT OF RELEVANT FACTS[2]

Defendant, Morris-Shea Bridge Company, is a “deep foundation contractor, ” whose work includes “foundation drilling, pile driving, [and] shoring.” (Doc. 30-5 at 13-14.) Its corporate office is located in Irondale, Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham; defendant seldom has field work in the Birmingham area. (Id. at 77-78; doc. 32-1 at 56.) Defendant has 120- 150 employees nationwide, working in the corporate office, the equipment yard, and in the field. (Doc. 30-5 at 76.)

Defendant’s superintendents work in the field on construction jobs for the company. (Doc. 32-6 ¶ 2.) Superintendents seldom, if ever, report to or work in the corporate office; “the actual site of the construction [job] is where . . . Superintendents . . . work overseeing and managing the day-to-day construction work of [defendant’s] employees and coordinating with other companies also on site.” (Id.)

Defendant employs workers at the construction site. (Id. ¶ 3.) For these workers, the job site is “their home base during a construction job and [they] report to the construction site daily for their work.” (Id.) The superintendents give out work assignments at the job sites and they evaluate the employees based on their observations at the job site. (Id.) Decisions regarding hiring, disciplining, transferring, and terminating employees working in the field are made by the superintendent at the job site, with or without approval from the corporate office. (Id.; see also doc. 30-5 at 19 [corporate office involved with reassigning workers at the end of a job]; doc. 30-5 at 69 [corporate office approved raises based on recommendation of superintendent].) Most employees working the field, superintendents included, either travel directly to the other job site to report for work or may go home to their personal residence briefly before traveling directly to the new construction job site. (Doc. 32-6 ¶ 5.)

Plaintiff, Marvin Stanley “Stan” Reaves lives in Lincoln, Alabama. (Doc. 32-1 at 14.) He began working for defendant in July 2000 as a welder. (Id. at 113-14; doc. 32-2 at 4.) He was promoted to foreman in 2001, and supervisor in 2008. (Doc. 32-1 at 114-17; doc. 30-3 at 83-84.) Lee Dubberly was plaintiff’s superintendent. (Doc. 32-4 at 15-16.)

Plaintiff was laid off in 2009. (Doc. 32-1 at 122.) A year later, in December 2010, Dubberly hired plaintiff as a foreman to work on a construction project in the area around New Orleans, Louisiana. (Id. at 126-27; doc. 32-4 at 30-31.) This project, to build gates in a flood wall around New Orleans, consisted of three jobs: Job 935, “Bayou Dupre Sector Gate;” Job 945, “Western Tie-In Structure;” and Job 948, “Hero Canal.” (Doc. 30-5 at 36-38, 40; doc. 32-1 at 130-32.) Dubberly told plaintiff where to go to be ready for work. (Doc. 32-4 at 31.) Once he began working on the Louisiana jobs, plaintiff lived in his camper, which he was parked at a campsite about 15-20 miles from Job 935’s job site; he did not ...


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