Firm Obtained Summary Judgment for its Municipal Clients in a First Amendment Retaliation Case

In October 2017, the Firm obtained summary judgment for its municipal clients in a First Amendment retaliation case.  The plaintiff, a long-time treasurer and secretary for a municipality alleged that the municipality, its board, and former chair violated his constitutional rights when they eliminated his salary and terminated his benefits.  Specifically, the plaintiff alleged substantive due process violations, a bill of attainder claim, and First Amendment retaliation claims based on his alleged objections to the process by which the municipality attempted to sell a parcel of land.  The defendants presented evidence that their actions against the plaintiff were the result of significant job performance issues that included irregularities and deficiencies in the municipality’s finances, a belief that the plaintiff had engaged in forgery, and the plaintiff’s failure to report to work and carry out his duties for months.

The District Judge granted summary judgment on all claims in favor of the defendants, adopting recommendations of the Magistrate Judge with respect to the bill of attainder, substantive due process, and First Amendment claim against the Board Chair.  With respect to the First Amendment claim against the District, the District Judge rejected the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation that the claim should proceed to trial and sustained the defendants’ objection, finding that the Mt. Healthy defense applied and  “a reasonable jury would have to conclude that the Board would have taken the same actions against Plaintiff in the absence of the protected speech.”