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Young v. Popeye's Chicken

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Western Division

August 14, 2019

NOELLE YOUNG, pro se, Plaintiff,
v.
POPEYE'S CHICKEN, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF OPINION

          L. SCOTT COOGLER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before 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 action dismissed.[1]

         I. Background[2]

         Plaintiff Noelle Young (“Plaintiff” or “Young”) brings suit against Defendants Corey Rice[3] (“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.)

         Young's 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.)

         One day 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 charge.

         On 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.

         II. Standard

         Young, 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).

         In 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).

         III. ...


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