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Case 3:17-cv-00932-DPJ-FKB Document 3 Filed 12/20/17 Page 1 of 12

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT


FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
NORTHERN DIVISION

BERNITA RICE PLAINTIFF

VS. CIVIL ACTION NO.: 3:17-cv-932-DPJ-FKB

HIINDS COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI a/k/a


HINDS COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS and
HINDS COUNTY TAX COLLECTOR, EDDIE J. FAIR
INDIVIDUALLY DEFENDANTS

HINDS COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI’S


ANSWER TO PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT

Comes now, Hinds County, Mississippi, by and through counsel, and in

response to Plaintiff’s Complaint would show unto the Court as follows:

FIRST DEFENSE

Answering defendant specifically asserts and invokes all the privileges available

to it as set forth in Federal R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1)-(7) for which a good faith, legal and/or

factual basis exists or may exist.

SECOND DEFENSE

Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to state facts against the answering defendant which

would rise to the level of a constitutional deprivation under the laws of the United

States or the Constitution of the United States.

THIRD DEFENSE

Insofar as any state law claims are concerned, answering defendant invokes each

and every restriction, limitation, requirement, privilege and immunity of the

Mississippi Tort Claims Act, Miss. Code Ann. § 11-46-1, et seq.


Case 3:17-cv-00932-DPJ-FKB Document 3 Filed 12/20/17 Page 2 of 12

FOURTH DEFENSE

Answering defendant denies that it has been guilty of any actionable conduct.

FIFTH DEFENSE

Insofar as any alleged cause of action for race, sex or gender discrimination, or

any portion thereof, was not contained in the charge discrimination filed with the Equal

Employment Opportunity Commission within the time prescribed by 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-

5(e), which statute is pled as a defense and as a statute of limitations, the Complaint

should be dismissed.

SIXTH DEFENSE

ADMISSIONS AND DENIALS

COMPLAINT

And now, without waiving any defense heretofore or hereinafter set forth,

answering defendant responds to the allegations of Plaintiff’s Complaint, paragraph by

paragraph, as follows:

PARTIES

1. Answering defendant, upon information and belief, admits the allegations

of Paragraph 1 of Plaintiffs’ Complaint.

2. Answering defendant admits that Hinds County, Mississippi may be

served through its President of the Board of Supervisors at 316 E. President Street,

Jackson, Mississippi 39201. Answering defendant denies the remaining allegations of

paragraph 2 of Plaintiff’s Complaint.

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3. Answering defendant admits the allegations of paragraph 3 of Plaintiff’s

Complaint.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

3. (SIC) Answering defendant admits that Plaintiff has raised a federal question

in this matter. Answering defendant denies the remaining allegations of paragraph 3 of

Plaintiff’s Complaint.

4. Answering defendant admits that venue is proper in this Court.

Answering defendant denies the remaining allegations of paragraph 4 of Plaintiff’s

Complaint.

5. Answering defendant lacks information sufficient to make a

determination as to the truth of the allegations of paragraph 5 of Plaintiff’s Complaint

and, as such, denies the same.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

6. Answering defendant admits Plaintiff was hired to work in the Hinds

County Tax Collector’s office. Answering defendant lacks information sufficient to

make a determination as to the truth of the remaining allegations of paragraph 6 of

Plaintiff’s Complaint and, as such, denies the same.

7. Answering defendant denies the allegations of Paragraph 7 of Plaintiff’s

Complaint.

8. Answering defendant denies the allegations of Paragraph 8 of Plaintiff’s

Complaint.

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9. Answering defendant denies the allegations of paragraph 9 of Plaintiff’s

Complaint.

10. Answering defendant denies the allegation of paragraph 10 of Plaintiff’s

Complaint.

11. Answering defendant denies the allegations of paragraph 11 of Plaintiff’s

Complaint.

12. Answering defendant denies the allegations of paragraph 12 of Plaintiff’s

Complaint.

13. Answering defendant lacks information sufficient to make a

determination as to the truth of the allegations of paragraph 13 of Plaintiff’s Complaint

and, as such denies the same.

14. Answering defendant denies the allegations of paragraph 14 of Plaintiff’s

Complaint.

15. Answering defendant denies the allegations of paragraph 15 of Plaintiff’s

Complaint.

16. Answering defendant lacks information sufficient to make a

determination as to the truth of the allegations of paragraph 16 of Plaintiff’s Complaint

and, as such denies the same.

17. Answering defendant lacks information sufficient to make a

determination as to the truth of the allegations of paragraph 17 of Plaintiff’s Complaint

and, as such denies the same.

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Case 3:17-cv-00932-DPJ-FKB Document 3 Filed 12/20/17 Page 5 of 12

18. Answering defendant lacks information sufficient to make a

determination as to the truth of the allegations of paragraph 18 of Plaintiff’s Complaint

and, as such denies the same.

19. Answering defendant lacks information sufficient to make a

determination as to the truth of the allegations of paragraph 19 of Plaintiff’s Complaint

and, as such denies the same.

20. Answering defendant admits that Plaintiff was terminated from

employment with Hinds County, Mississippi. Answering defendant denies the

remaining allegations of paragraph 20 of Plaintiff’s Complaint, as stated.

21. Answering defendant admits that Plaintiff was terminated from

employment with Hinds County, Mississippi. Answering defendant denies the

remaining allegations of paragraph 21 of Plaintiff’s Complaint, as stated.

22. Answering defendant admits Plaintiff was insubordinate. Answering

defendant lacks information sufficient to make a determination as to the truth of the

remaining allegations of paragraph 22 of Plaintiff’s Complaint and, as such denies the

same.

23. Answering defendant admits Plaintiff was late for work. Answering

defendant lacks information sufficient to make a determination as to the truth of the

remaining allegations of paragraph 23 of Plaintiff’s Complaint and, as such denies the

same.

24. Answering defendant admits Plaintiff was terminated from employment

with Hinds County, Mississippi. Answering defendant lacks information sufficient to

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Case 3:17-cv-00932-DPJ-FKB Document 3 Filed 12/20/17 Page 6 of 12

make a determination as to the truth of the remaining allegations of paragraph 24 of

Plaintiff’s Complaint and, as such, denies the same, as stated.

25. Answering defendant denies the allegations of paragraph 25 of Plaintiff’s

Complaint.

26. Answering defendant denies the allegations of paragraph 26 of Plaintiff’s

Complaint.

27. Answering defendant denies the allegations of paragraph 27 of Plaintiff’s

Complaint.

CAUSES OF ACTION

COUNT I – VIOLATION OF TITLE VII – SEXUAL HARASSMENT


AND THE 14TH AMENDMENT THROUGH §1983 – EQUAL PROTECTION

28. Answering defendant repeats and incorporates by reference each and

every defense, admission, and denial to paragraphs 1-27 hereinabove as if the same

were specifically set out herein.

29. Answering defendant denies the allegations of paragraph 29 of Plaintiff’s

Complaint.

30. Answering defendant denies the allegations of paragraph 30 of Plaintiff’s

Complaint.

COUNT II – VIOLATIONS OF TITLE VII AND THE


14TH AMENDMENT THROUGH § 1983 – RETALIATION

31. Answering defendant repeats and incorporates by reference each and

every defense, admission, and denial to paragraphs 1-30 hereinabove as if the same

were specifically set out herein.

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Case 3:17-cv-00932-DPJ-FKB Document 3 Filed 12/20/17 Page 7 of 12

32. Answering defendant denies the allegations of paragraph 32 of Plaintiff’s

Complaint.

33. Answering defendant denies the allegations of paragraph 33 of Plaintiff’s

Complaint.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

As for the last unnumbered paragraph which commences, “WHEREFORE,

PREMISES CONSIDERED, Plaintiff…,” answering defendant denies each and every

allegation contained therein, including subparagraphs 1 through 8, and would

affirmatively aver that the Plaintiff is not entitled any relief whatsoever.

SEVENTH DEFENSE

Answering defendant is protected by and invoke all the immunities granted by

judicial, common law, and statutory sovereign immunity.

EIGHTH DEFENSE

Answering defendant alleges that it met or exceeded the requirements of law

and due care and that it is guilty of no acts or omissions which either caused or

contributed to the incident in question.

NINTH DEFENSE

Answering defendant alleges that Plaintiff’s claims are barred by the applicable

statute of limitations, res judicata, collateral estoppel, laches, waiver, contributory

negligence, accord and satisfaction, lack of standing, release, and/or estoppel.

TENTH DEFENSE

Any and all actions taken with respect to Plaintiff were not based upon any

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Case 3:17-cv-00932-DPJ-FKB Document 3 Filed 12/20/17 Page 8 of 12

prohibited factors or upon any unlawful or impermissible reasons, but were taken in

good faith, for legitimate reasons and based upon legitimate factors that included job

performance, level of professional and judgment, level of responsibilities, market forces,

salary history, total years of experience, years of experience in the job, certification,

number of contract days worked, length of work day, and/or budgetary concerns.

ELEVENTH DEFENSE

Answering defendant did not engage in any unfavorable or adverse employment

action that gave rise to an inference of discrimination against Plaintiff on account of

race, sex or gender.

TWELTH DEFENSE

Plaintiff failed to mitigate her damages.

THIRTEENTH DEFENSE

Answering defendant did not engage in any unfavorable or adverse employment

action that gave rise to an inference of discrimination against Plaintiff on account of

race.

FOURTEENTH DEFENSE

Answering defendant did not engage in or take any cognizable adverse

personnel action against Plaintiff.

FIFTEENTH DEFENSE

No causal link exists between any protected activity engaged in by Plaintiff and

any unfavorable or adverse employment action against Plaintiff.

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Case 3:17-cv-00932-DPJ-FKB Document 3 Filed 12/20/17 Page 9 of 12

SIXTEENTH DEFENSE

Plaintiff’s failure to show that she has been treated differently from other

employees in similar situations is fatal to their claim of race discrimination violative of

Title VII and requires dismissal.

SEVENTEENTH DEFENSE

Answering defendant alleges that it met or exceeded the requirements of law

and due care and that it is guilty of no acts or omissions which either caused or

contributed to the incident in question.

EIGHTEENTH DEFENSE

Answering defendant alleges that Plaintiff’s claims are barred by the applicable

statute of limitations, res judicata, collateral estoppel, laches, waiver, contributory

negligence, accord and satisfaction, lack of standing, release, and/or estoppel.

NINETEENTH DEFENSE

The Plaintiff is not entitled to recover any enhanced, punitive, or exemplary

damages, as provided by Miss. Code Ann. § 11-46-15, insofar as any state law claims are

concerned. Additionally, answering defendant would affirmatively state that the

Plaintiff is not entitled to recover enhanced, punitive, or exemplary damages, the same

being violative of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the

Constitution of the United States and Article III, Section 14 of the Constitution of the

State of Mississippi, inclusive of, but not necessarily limited to, the following separate

and several grounds:

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Case 3:17-cv-00932-DPJ-FKB Document 3 Filed 12/20/17 Page 10 of 12

(a) The procedures may result in the award of joint and several judgments

against multiple defendants for different alleged acts of wrongdoing.

(b) The procedures fail to provide means for awarding separate judgments

against alleged joint tortfeasors.

(c) The procedures fail to provide a limit on the amount of the award against

the defendants.

(d) The procedures fail to provide specific standards for the amount of the

award of punitive damages.

(e) The procedures permit award of punitive damages upon satisfaction of a

standard of proof less than that applicable to the imposition of criminal sanctions.

(f) The procedures permit multiple awards of punitive damages for the same

alleged act.

(g) The procedures fail to provide a clear consistent appellant standard of

review of an award for punitive damages.

(h) The procedures may permit the admission of evidence relative to punitive

damages in the same proceedings during which liability and compensatory damages

are determined.

(i) The standard of conduct upon which punitive damages are sought is

vague.

TWENTIETH DEFENSE

Answering defendant exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly

any unlawful behavior and Plaintiff unreasonably failed to take advantage of any

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Case 3:17-cv-00932-DPJ-FKB Document 3 Filed 12/20/17 Page 11 of 12

preventative or corrective opportunities provided by Defendant or to avoid harm

otherwise.

TWENTY-FIRST DEFENSE

Answering defendant reserves the right to add additional defenses as the same

become known during the course of discovery of this cause.

TWENTY-SECOND DEFENSE

Answering defendant would aver that venue is improper.

TWENTY-THIRD DEFENSE

Answering defendant denies any allegations which are not specifically admitted

hereinabove.

And now, having answered the Complaint filed against it, answering defendant

requests that the same be dismissed and that the Complaint be discharged with costs

assessed against the Plaintiff.

DATE: December 20, 2017.

Respectfully submitted,

HINDS COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI

BY: /s/William R. Allen


One of Its Attorneys
WILLIAM R. ALLEN (MSB #100541)
J. CHADWICK WILLIAMS (MSB #102158)
Allen, Allen, Breeland & Allen, PLLC
P. O. Box 751
Brookhaven, MS 39602-0751
Tel. 601-833-4361
Fax 601-833-6647
wallen@aabalegal.com
cwilliams@aabalegal.com

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Case 3:17-cv-00932-DPJ-FKB Document 3 Filed 12/20/17 Page 12 of 12

CERTIFICATE

I, the undersigned of Allen, Allen, Breeland & Allen, PLLC, hereby certify that on

this day, I electronically filed the foregoing Hinds County, Mississippi’s Answer to

Plaintiff’s Complaint with the Clerk of the Court which gave notice of the same to:

Louis H. Watson, Jr., Esq.


Nick Norris, Esq.
WATSON & NORRIS, PLLC
1880 Lakeland Drive, Suite G
Jackson, MS 39216
louis@watsonnorris.com
nick@watsonnorris.com

The 20th day of December, 2017.

/s/William R. Allen
OF COUNSEL

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Case 3:17-cv-00932-DPJ-FKB Document 1 Filed 11/21/17 Page 1 of 6

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