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Reversal of Summary Judgment in Pro-Navajo Indian Discrimination Case, Plus Civil Rights Matter

By FindLaw Staff on June 23, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

EEOC v. Peabody Western Coal Co., No. 06-17261, involved an action by the EEOC alleging that, in maintaining its employment preference for Navajo workers, defendant discriminated against non-Navajo Indians, including two members of the Hopi Nation and one member of the Otoe tribe, in violation of Title VII.  The court of appeals reversed summary judgment for defendant, on the grounds that 1) the amended complaint filed by the EEOC after remand did not render it infeasible to join the Navajo Nation; 2) the Secretary  of the Interior was a required party under Rule 19(a), and joining him was not feasible; 3) plaintiff could not bring a third-party damages claim against the Secretary under Fed. R. Civ. P. 14(a), and that EEOC's claim against defendant for damages must therefore be dismissed under Rule 19(b); and 4) plaintiff could bring a third-party claim against the Secretary for prospective relief under Rule 14(a), and therefore EEOC's injunctive claim against defendant should be allowed to proceed.

Simmons v. Navajo County, No. 08-15522, involved a civil rights action against county jail personnel claiming that they negligently permitted the suicide of an inmate.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendant in part, holding that 1) no reasonable jury could conclude that a nurse consciously disregarded an excessive risk to plaintiffs' decedent's safety; 2) plaintiffs adduced no evidence that a corrections officer knew that the decedent was suicidal; and 3) because there was no underlying constitutional violation, plaintiffs could not maintain a claim for municipal liability.  The court of appeals vacated in part, on the ground that, should the district court decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiffs' state law claims, it may remand those claims to state court for further proceedings.

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