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Paris v. Sansom

May 7, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Curtis L. Collier


Before the Court is Defendants Bill Sansom and Board of Directors of Tennessee Valley Authority's (collectively "Defendants") motion for summary judgment (Court File No. 21) and brief in support (Court File No. 23). Plaintiff Rhonda Paris ("Plaintiff") filed a response in opposition to Defendants' motion (Court File No. 27), and Defendants, in turn, filed a reply to Plaintiff's response (Court File No. 29). For the following reasons, the Court will GRANT Defendants' motion (Court File No. 21).


Summary judgment is proper where "the pleadings, 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 a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Initially, the burden is on the moving party to conclusively show no genuine issues of material fact exist, Leary v. Daeschner, 349 F.3d 888, 897 (6th Cir. 2003), and the Court must view the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88, (1986). However, the nonmoving party is not entitled to a trial merely on the basis of allegations, but must come forward with some significant probative evidence to support its claim. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). If the nonmoving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of its case with respect to which it has the burden of proof, the moving party is entitled to summary judgment. Id. at 323.

The Court determines whether sufficient evidence has been presented to make the issue of fact a proper jury question, but does not weigh the evidence, judge the credibility of witnesses, or determine the truth of the matter. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986); Weaver v. Shadoan, 340 F.3d 398, 405 (6th Cir. 2003). The standard for summary judgment mirrors the standard for directed verdict. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. The Court must decide "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Id. at 251-52. There must be some probative evidence from which the jury could reasonably find for the nonmoving party. If the Court concludes a fair-minded jury could not return a verdict in favor of the nonmoving party based on the evidence presented, it may enter a summary judgment. Id.; Lansing Dairy, Inc. v. Espy, 39 F.3d 1339, 1347 (6th Cir. 1994).


Plaintiff was formerly employed with the Tennessee Valley Authority ("TVA") as a Clerk-Word Processor, SB-3, for Nuclear Assurance and Services, Administrative Services, in Chattanooga (Court File No. 19, Part 4, Exhibit O, at 2). In June 1989, she received a Notice of Reduction in Force ("RIF"), effective July 31, 1989 (id.). The notice was not rescinded, and she was not selected for other vacancies (id.). In August 1989, Plaintiff contacted Patricia McKibben, an Equal Opportunity Counselor, alleging she had been discriminated against because of her race (id.). Plaintiff is African-American (id.). The issue was not resolved during counseling.

On October 27, 1989, Plaintiff filed a formal complaint of discrimination, and the TVA accepted for investigation Plaintiff's allegation she was discriminated against because of her race when she received her RIF notice (Court File No. 19, Part 5, Exhibit P, at 1). The allegation was investigated, and a final agency decision was issued on June 29, 1990, which found no discrimination (id.). The decision also discussed Plaintiff's related allegations concerning her nonselection for other positions, but no formal decision was made on the nonselections (id.).

Plaintiff appealed the final agency decision to the Merit Systems Protection Board ("MSPB"), but on November 1, 1990, the Administrative Judge dismissed the appeal because Plaintiff represented, through counsel, she no longer wanted to pursue the RIF issue (id.). Instead, she wanted to pursue her allegations regarding the nonselections (id.). Although the nonselection claims had not been formally accepted for investigation, Plaintiff had sought counseling on those issues (id.). As a result, the following issues were accepted for processing: Plaintiff's allegations she was discriminated against because of her race when (1) she was not selected for a six-month temporary Clerk, SB-3, position on or about July 31, 1989; and (2) she was not selected on Vacant Position Announcement ("VPA") No. 9616005 for a Clerk-Word Processor, SB-3, position in or about October 1989 (id.). Since an investigation of these issues was included as background information in the investigative record for the RIF issue, no additional investigation was done by the Equal Opportunity ("EO") staff (id.).

On January 29, 1991, a Notice of Proposed Disposition finding no discrimination was issued (Court File No. 16, Part 3, Exhibit B, at 1). On February 7, 1991, Plaintiff requested a hearing before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") (id.). On February 13, 1993, the Administrative Judge, David E. Licht ("AJ Licht"), issued a recommended finding and conclusion, granting partial summary judgment on the issue of Plaintiff's nonselection for VPA No. 9616005 (issue two) with a finding of no discrimination (id.). On August 16, 1993, AJ Licht issued a recommended finding and conclusion granting partial summary judgment on the issue of Plaintiff's nonselection for the six-month temporary clerk position (issue one) with a finding of no discrimination (id. at 2). On October 18, 1993, the agency issued its Final Agency Decision ("FAD") concurring with AJ Licht in the grants of summary judgment (id.). On December 22, 1993, the agency issued an amended FAD clarifying the October 18 FAD, specifically finding no discrimination on issues one and two (id.). Plaintiff appealed the FAD to the Office of Federal Operations ("OFO") for the EEOC in Washington, D.C. (id.). The OFO issued an appellate decision on September 2, 1994, affirming the partial summary judgment on issue two, but reversed and remanded issue number one for a hearing (id.).

On June 27, 1996, a hearing was conducted by Administrative Judge James A. Carnes ("AJ Carnes"), EEOC, on Plaintiff's allegation she was not selected for a six-month temporary Clerk, SB-3 position on or about July 31, 1987 (id.). AJ Carnes issued a recommended decision ("RD") finding discrimination on that issue (id.). On February 13, 1997, the agency, in its FAD, adopted the RD (id.). As a remedy, the agency found Plaintiff was entitled to be offered a temporary six-month position of Clerk-Word Processor, SB-3; an award of back pay, interest, and benefits for the six-month temporary position, beginning July 29, 1989 and ending approximately January 29, 1990; and reasonable attorney fees and costs (id. at 12). TVA complied with this order and paid Plaintiff back pay (plus interest) of $9,786.88 for the period from July 29, 1989, through January 29, 1990, and attorney's fees of $7,000 (Court File No. 18, Part 2, Exhibit C, at 4-5).

The case continued through the administrative process for six more years, due to two appeals*fn1 filed by Plaintiff, a motion for reconsideration filed by the agency, and two petitions for reinforcement filed by Plaintiff (Court File No. 18, Part 3, Exhibit L, at 2). On January 23, 2006, the EEOC decided the agency had complied with the EEOC's decision on Plaintiff's second appeal "when it offered Plaintiff a permanent SB-3 position, retroactive to January 29, 1990, with all applicable step and salary increases within the SB-3 classification and all resulting step and salary increases within the SB-4 classification from July 1989 (the date of the discrimination) to present" (id. at 4-5).

On July 8, 1997, while Plaintiff's administrative complaint was still pending, Plaintiff filed a petition under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee (Court File No. 19, Part 10, Exhibit U). Plaintiff did not list her claim against TVA in her Schedule of Assets nor did she list it in her Statement of Financial Affairs (id. at 8;21; 23). Plaintiff also failed to list the March 1997 payment of $9,786.88 that TVA made to her, although she was asked to reveal the "amount of income received by the debtor other than from employment, trade, profession, or operation of the debtor's ...

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