United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
E. OTT CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Willie Collier and Collier Welding, LLC filed a complaint in
this court against the Alabama Department of
Transportation (“ALDOT”) alleging violations of
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title
VI”). (Doc. 1).The court has before it the June
22, 2018 motion for summary judgment filed by ALDOT. (Doc.
59). The motion has been fully briefed (docs. 60, 66, 67),
and is now ripe for decision. For the reasons set forth
below, the motion is due to be denied.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
Willie Collier is an African American and the owner of
Collier Welding, LLC. (Doc. 1 ¶ 5; Doc. 61-1
(“Collier Dep.”) at 35). Defendant ALDOT is a
state agency responsible for the administration of federally
funded highway construction contracts in accordance with
state and federal law. Eligibility for federal funds requires
ALDOT to implement a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise
program (“DBE”) to promote the hiring of minority
businesses in the construction industry. Collier Welding, LLC
was certified as a DBE by ALDOT. (See Doc. 66-1 at
March 27, 2015, ALDOT opened bidding for a project for a
bridge replacement and approaches on 31st Street North over
Interstate 59/20 and on 12th Avenue North over Interstate
59/20 in Birmingham, Alabama. (Doc. 61-2 (“McBrien
Aff.”) ¶ 5; Doc. 66-1 at 4-5). Construction for
the bridge project was set to begin on August 3, 2015. (Doc.
61-4 (“Powe Aff.”) ¶ 6). The project was
awarded to Bell Construction and Associates on May 13, 2015.
(Doc. 6-1 at 4-5).
August or September 2015, Collier met with Casey Mims from
Bell Construction. (Collier Dep. at 83, 104, 109-10). Collier
told Mims he wanted to submit a quote to perform welding work
on the project. (Id. at 109-110). During this
meeting, Collier gave Mims his welding certificate, DBE
certification, LLC formation papers, and his state and county
business licenses. (Id. at 82, 84). Mims told
Collier he had to verify Collier's eligibility to work on
an ALDOT project as a welder. (Id. at 83, 103).
verified that Collier was qualified to participate in
ALDOT's DBE program, but stated that Collier was not
certified to work as a welder on any ALDOT projects. (Doc.
61-8 (“Pickett Aff.”) ¶ 7; Collier Dep. at
65-66). No. one at Bell Construction requested that Collier
be tested to gain ALDOT certification. Collier was not hired
by Bell Construction to work on the project, resulting in the
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), summary judgment is
proper “if the pleading depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file together with the
affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The party seeking
summary judgment bears the initial burden of informing the
court of the basis for its motion and identifying the
portions of the pleadings or filings which it believes
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.
Id. at 323. Once the movant has met its initial
burden, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleading and
by his own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue suitable for
trial. See Id. at 324; see also Fed. R.
Civ. Pro. 56(e).
law identifies which facts are material and which are
irrelevant. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986). All reasonable doubts about the facts
and all justifiable inferences must be resolved in favor of
the non-movant. See Fitzpatrick v. City of Atlanta,
2 F.3d 1112, 1115 (11th Cir. 1993). A dispute is genuine
“if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. If the evidence is merely
colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary
judgment may be granted. See Id. at 249.
contend that ALDOT discriminated against them in violation of
the Title VI on the basis of race when “it informed
Bell Construction that [Collier] was ineligible to work as a
welder on [ALDOT] projects because he lacked the proper
welding certification.” (Doc. 66 at 1). Section 601 of
Title VI provides that no person shall, “on the ground
of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from
participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected
to discrimination under any program or activity”
covered by Title VI. 42 U.S.C. § 2000d; Alexander v.
Sandoval, 532 U.S. 275, 279 (2001). A plaintiff may only
bring claims for intentional discrimination under Title VI.
Sandoval, 532 U.S. at 293. Title VI “requires
that a person prove that he was denied participation, based
on his race, in a federally funded program for which he was
otherwise qualified.” Humphrey v. United Parcel
Serv., 200 Fed.Appx. 950, 952 (11th Cir. 2006) (citing
42 U.S.C. § 2000d).
establish a prima facie case under Title VI, Collier must
show (1) ALDOT received federal funds, (2) Collier was
discriminated against, and (3) Collier's race, color, or
national origin was the motive behind ALDOT's alleged
discriminatory conduct. See Walton v. Secretary Veterans
Admin, 187 F.Supp.3d 137, 1331 (N.D. Ala. 2016). It is
undisputed that ALDOT receives federal funds. The last two
elements are in dispute, however.
argues that ALDOT discriminated against him when it told Bell
Construction that he was not qualified to work on the bridge
project as a welder. As a result, Collier contends he was not
given the opportunity to bid on the project. Collier
testified that he was certified as a welder and had, in fact,
worked on an ALDOT project in the past with the American
Welding Society ...