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Banks v. Breathitt County Bd. of Educ.

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

February 28, 2013

Steve BANKS, Plaintiff
v.
BREATHITT COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al., Defendants.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Cheryl U. Lewis, Hyden, KY, for Plaintiff.

Jonathan C. Shaw, Porter, Schmitt, Banks & Baldwin, Paintsville, KY, Neal Smith, Smith, Thompson & Carter, PLLC, Pikeville, KY, for Defendants.

OPINION & ORDER

KARL S. FORESTER, Senior District Judge.

This matter is currently before the Court upon the motion [DE # 11] of the Defendants to dismiss, pursuant to Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, certain claims of the Plaintiff, or in the alternative, for partial summary judgment on these claims pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This motion is ripe for review.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The relevant facts, as alleged by the plaintiff, Steve Banks, are as follows. Banks became employed as the Breathitt County School System Transportation Director in 2004. In his capacity as Transportation Director, Banks supervises approximately 44 employees at the Breathitt County Board of Education Bus Garage, as well as conducting monthly examinations of the buses, ordering parts, reviewing and signing purchase orders, and reviewing and assigning bus routes and extracurricular trips of Breathitt County students. When Banks first became employed in 2004, he had a 220-day contract. In 2010, his contract was changed to a 240-day contract.

Banks claims that during the 2010 election, George Daniel Strong re-filed for Board Member of the Breathitt County Board of Education and the Superintendent at that time, Arch Turner, supported Strong's re-election. Banks further alleges that Superintendent Turner demanded money from him to support Strong in the race. When Banks refused to provide any money to Superintendent Turner for Strong's re-election, he received threats concerning his employment. As a result,

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Banks contends that his work environment became hostile and distressing.

Ultimately, an investigation was launched into Superintendent Turner's actions during the 2010 election, which culminated in the March 2, 2012 arrest of Superintendent Turner by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (the " FBI" ). During the course of the investigation, Banks was interviewed by the FBI and provided information to the FBI relative to their investigation of Superintendent Turner. Banks contends that Superintendent Turner was aware of the FBI's investigation of him, and instructed Banks to lie to the FBI.

Immediately prior to the arrest of Superintendent Turner, Banks contends that Superintendent Turner was shown the information that Banks provided to the FBI. Banks alleges that Superintendent Turner then made various comments to his staff about Banks providing information to the FBI. After his arrest, Superintendent Turner was released and returned to his employment as Superintendent. Upon his return to work, Banks alleges that Superintendent Turner began a pattern of retaliation against anyone he thought cooperated with the FBI. Banks contends that Strong, who cooperated with the FBI during their investigation of Superintendent Turner, was voted out as Board Chairman. Moreover, he contends that the Breathitt County Board of Education, upon Superintendent Turner's recommendation, took the necessary steps to reduce the pay of three employees linked to the FBI investigation, including himself. Specifically, Banks' contract was cut by 20 days.

Superintendent Turner was later re-arrested and the State of Kentucky has taken over the Breathitt County School Systems. Interim Superintendent Stevens has been suspended, with pay, pending an investigation. Banks has filed a grievance with the Board of Education concerning its treatment of him, but has not received any response.

On December 10, 2012, Banks filed the instant action, asserting the following causes of action: (1) violation of his substantive due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment; (2) wrongful abridgement of his rights under the First Amendment; (3) discrimination in violation of KRS § 161.164; (4) violation of KRS § 61.102; and (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress [DE # 1]. The named Defendants are the Breathitt County Board of Education (" Board of Education" or " BOE" ); Melanie Stevens, individually and in her official capacity as Interim Superintendent of the BOE; George Daniel Strong, individually and in his official capacity as member of the BOE; Shirley Hudson, individually and in her official capacity as member of the BOE; Ina Southwood, individually and in her official capacity as member of the BOE; Bobby Gross, individually and in his official capacity as member of the BOE; and Arch Turner, individually and in his official capacity as Former Superintendent of the BOE.

The Defendants have filed the instant motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary judgment [DE # 11]. The Defendants first argue that the claims against the individual Defendants in their official capacities should be dismissed as redundant and barred by the doctrine of official immunity. Second, the Defendants argue that the state law claims against the Board of Education should be dismissed as barred by the doctrine of governmental immunity. Finally, the Defendants contend that the Complaint failed to make any allegations against ...


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