United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Western Division
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION
SCOTT COOGLER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant Stearm an Enterprises LLC's
(“Stearman's”) motion for summary judgment.
(Doc. 26.) Plaintiff was given an opportunity to respond to
Stearman's motion, but has filed no response. The
briefing period has expired. Accordingly, the motion is fully
briefed and ripe for review. For the reasons stated below,
Stearman's motion (doc. 26) is due to be granted and this
Noelle Young (“Plaintiff” or “Young”)
brings suit against Defendants Corey Rice
(“Rice”), Popeye's Chicken
(“Popeye's”), and Stearman for claims arising
from Young's employment at Popeye's Chicken in
Tuscaloosa, Alabama. On March 7, 2016, Young filed for
Chapter 13 bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court
for the Northern District of Alabama, No. 16-70380-JHH13.
(Doc. 28-1 at Ex. G.) Young submitted her bankruptcy petition
and asset schedule with the assistance of Attorney Eric
Wilson (“Wilson”). Young had previously filed for
bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the
Northern District of Alabama, No. 15-71737-JHH13, but her
petition was dismissed on February 24, 2016, due to her
failure to comply with the payment plan. (Doc. 9-4 at Ex. D.)
In June 2016, the bankruptcy court confirmed a Chapter 13
payment plan for Young's most recent bankruptcy petition.
(Doc. 28-1 at Ex. H.)
was hired by Popeye's in October of 2016 and resigned
from Popeye's in February 2017. (Id. at Ex. I.)
Also in February 2017, the Trustee of Young's Chapter 13
estate moved to dismiss Young's bankruptcy for her
failure to comply with the payment plan. (Id. at Ex.
H.) The bankruptcy court subsequently set a hearing on the
motion for May 4, 2017. (Doc. 28-1 at Ex. H.) On April 28,
2017, Young filed an EEOC charge regarding her treatment at
Popeye's. (Doc. 1-1.) Plaintiff did not amend or update
her bankruptcy schedule to include any claims against
Popeye's and Stearman. (Doc. 28-1 at Ex. H.) On May 1,
2017, Young filled out an Affidavit of Debtor Regarding
Income in preparation for the filing of another bankruptcy
petition. (Id. at Ex. I.) This Affidavit did not
reference any claims against Stearman or Popeye's.
(Id.) On May 4, 2017, the bankruptcy court held a
hearing on the Trustee's motion to dismiss, and dismissed
Young's bankruptcy due to her failure to make plan
payments. (Doc. 9-5 at Ex. E.)
later, Young filed another Chapter 13 petition in the United
States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Alabama,
No. 17-70805- JHH13. (Doc. 9-3 at Ex. C.) Young was
represented in this bankruptcy proceeding by both Wilson and
Attorney Kathryn Lila Bettis (“Bettis”). (Doc.
9-2 at Ex. B.) In completing her asset schedule, Young denied
the existence of any third party claims, answering no to
Question 33, which asks whether the debtor has:
Claims against, third parties, whether or not you
have filed a lawsuit or made a demand for payment
Examples: Accidents, employment disputes, insurances
claims or rights to sue.
(Doc. 9-3 at Ex. C.) Young later in her application, answered
no to a question asking whether she had been party to
“any lawsuit, court action, or administrative
proceeding” in the year prior to this filing.
(Id.) Young signed these documents under oath. On
July 27, 2017, Young's Chapter 13 plan was confirmed.
(Doc. 9-2 at Ex. B.) The record does not indicate that Young
ever amended her asset schedules or disclosed her EEOC
August 14, 2017, Young, with the aid of Attorney Byron
Perkins (“Perkins”), filed an amended EEOC charge
that added a retaliation claim against Defendants. (Doc. 28-1
at Ex. J.) Young did not update or amend her asset schedules.
(Doc. 9-2 at Ex. B.) In November 2017, the Young's
Bankruptcy Trustee moved to dismiss Young's bankruptcy
based on her failure to make payments on her payment plan.
(Id.) In January 2018, Young's bankruptcy case
was dismissed for failure to make payments. (Id.)
One month later, Young filed this action. (Doc.
1.)Young's bankruptcy case was officially closed in March
2018, one month after she filed this action. (Doc. 9-2 at Ex.
B.) Young never disclosed the claims that are the subject of
this suit to the bankruptcy court.
proceeding pro se, filed no response to
Stearman's motion for summary judgment. Nonetheless, this
Court “consider[s] the merits of the motion” in
order to determine whether summary judgment is appropriate.
United States v. 5800 SW 74th Ave., 363 F.3d 1099,
1101-02 (11th Cir. 2004). 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). A
dispute is genuine if “the record taken as a whole
could lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving
party.” Hickson Corp. v. N. Crossarm Co.,
Inc., 357 F.3d 1256, 1260 (11th Cir. 2004). A genuine
dispute as to a material fact exists “if the nonmoving
party has produced evidence such that a reasonable factfinder
could return a verdict in its favor.” Greenberg v.
BellSouth Telecomms., Inc., 498 F.3d 1258, 1263 (11th
Cir. 2007) (quoting Waddell v. Valley Forge Dental
Assocs., 276 F.3d 1275, 1279 (11th Cir. 2001)). The
trial judge should not weigh the evidence, but determine
whether there are any genuine issues of fact that should be
resolved at trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986).
considering a motion for summary judgment, trial courts must
give deference to the non-moving party by “view[ing]
the materials presented and all factual inferences in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party.”
Animal Legal Def. Fund v. U.S. Dep't of Agric.,
789 F.3d 1206, 1213-14 (11th Cir. 2015) (citing Adickes
v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970)).
However, “unsubstantiated assertions alone are not
enough to withstand a motion for summary judgment.”
Rollins v. TechSouth, Inc., 833 F.2d 1525, 1529
(11th Cir. 1987). Conclusory allegations and a “mere
scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmoving party will
not suffice to overcome a motion for summary judgment.”
Melton v. Abston, 841 F.3d 1207, 1219 (11th Cir.
2016) (per curiam) (quoting Young v. City of Palm Bay,
Fla., 358 F.3d 859, 860 (11th Cir. 2004)). In making a
motion for summary judgment, “the moving party has the
burden of either negating an essential element of the
nonmoving party's case or showing that there is no
evidence to prove a fact necessary to the nonmoving
party's case.” McGee v. Sentinel Offender
Servs., LLC, 719 F.3d 1236, 1242 (11th Cir. 2013).
Although the trial courts must use caution when granting
motions for summary judgment, “[s]ummary judgment
procedure is properly regarded not as a disfavored procedural
shortcut, but rather as an integral part of the Federal Rules
as a whole.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 327 (1986).