Carter v. Pathfinder Energy, No. 10-8112 (10th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff Dennis Carter began working as a directional driller at Pathfinder Energy Services, Inc., in December 2004. Two years later, declining health had caused a reduction in Plaintiff's workload. Pathfinder fired Plaintiff for "gross misconduct" based primarily on an altercation that he had had with a coworker and his language and attitude during a conversation with his supervisor. Plaintiff sued Pathfinder in federal district court, alleging that Pathfinder had violated his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). He also alleged that Pathfinder had breached his implied-in-fact employment contract. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Pathfinder on all three claims. Upon careful review, the Tenth Circuit reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment on Plaintiff's ADA claim, but affirmed the grant of summary judgment on the remaining claims. Specifically, the Tenth Court held that "[a] reasonable jury could conclude that [Plaintiff] has made out a prima facie case of discrimination and has established that Pathfinder’s asserted justification for his firing was pretextual. At this stage of the case, that is enough." The Court remanded the case for further proceedings on the ADA claim.