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Napier v. Breathitt County Bd. of Education

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

July 8, 2014

CHARLES DAVID NAPIER, PLAINTIFF
v.
BREATHITT COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al., DEFENDANTS

For Charles David Napier, Plaintiff: Cheryl U. Lewis, LEAD ATTORNEY, Hyden, KY.

For Breathitt County Board of Education, Bobby Gross, Individually, Melanie Stevens, Individually, Defendants: John G. McNeill, LEAD ATTORNEY, Elizabeth Anna Deener, Landrum & Shouse LLP - LEXINGTON, Lexington, KY.

For Shirley Hudson, Individually, Arch Turner, Individually, Ina Southwood, Individually, Defendants: Neal Smith, Smith, Thompson & Carter, PLLC, Pikeville, KY.

For Melanie Stevens, in her capacity as Interim Superintendent of the Breathitt County Board of Education, Bobby Gross, in his official capacity as member of the Breathitt County Board of Education, Official Defendants: John G. McNeill, LEAD ATTORNEY, Elizabeth Anna Deener, Landrum & Shouse LLP - LEXINGTON, Lexington, KY.

For Shirley Hudson, in her official capacity as a member of the Breathitt County Board of Education, Arch Turner, in his official capacity as former Superintendent of the Breathitt County Board of Education, Ina Southwood, in her official capacity as member of the Breathitt County Board of Education, Official Defendants: Neal Smith, Smith, Thompson & Carter, PLLC, Pikeville, KY.

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OPINION & ORDER

KAREN K. CALDWELL, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This matter is currently before the Court upon the motion [DE # 48] of the Defendant, the Breathitt County Board of Education (the " BOE" ), for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This motion is fully briefed and is ripe for review. For the reasons set forth below, the BOE's motion for summary judgment will be granted.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The plaintiff, Charles David Napier, filed this civil action on December 10, 2012 asserting various federal and state claims against the BOE and other defendants arising out of his employment with the Breathitt County School System [DE #1]. Specifically, Napier alleges that he became employed by the Breathitt County School System on December 1, 2000 as principal at Breathitt County High School. He was promoted to Director of Pupil Personnel in 2003, and in 2005 he was further promoted to Assistant Superintendent. He served as both Director of Pupil Personnel and Assistant Superintendent until he filed for disability retirement in December 2012.

The events relevant to this action began in early 2012 after the FBI began investigating Defendant Arch Turner, Superintendent of the Breathitt County Board of Education. In conjunction with this investigation, Napier was interviewed and provided information to the FBI. Turner was ultimately arrested by the FBI and charged with various federal crimes, including

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conspiracy to buy votes, providing money to buy votes, trying to get a witness not to give information to authorities, and lying to an FBI agent. See United States v. Arch Taylor, Lexington Criminal Action No. 12-cr-30-KKC. After his arrest and before his trial, Turner returned to his position as Breathitt County Superintendent. Napier contends that in an effort to entice Turner to enter into a plea agreement, Turner was allowed to review the information that Napier provided to the FBI. After that, Napier contends that Turner began retaliating against him for his cooperation with the FBI.

Turner was subsequently rearrested and placed in jail. He voluntarily resigned his position on May 11, 2012. On July 24, 2012, Turner plead guilty to one count of the indictment charging him with conspiracy to commit offense to defraud the United States in violation 18 U.S.C. § 371. He was sentenced to twenty-four months imprisonment on November 13, 2012.

Two days after Turner resigned as Superintendent, Defendant Melanie Stevens was hired as Interim Superintendent. Napier contends that Stevens was selected without an application or interview, and that despite his qualifications for the position, he was not even granted an interview. Napier contends that as Interim Superintendent, Stevens continued the pattern of retaliation against him, including threatening to quadruple his work load despite informing him that he was not to work past his 220-day contract. Although his contract was for 220 days, Napier alleges that he regularly worked an additional 20 days, at the request of Defendant Turner, for which he was compensated, as well as an additional 15-20 days, also at the request of Defendant Turner, for which he was not compensated. Napier also alleges retaliation in the form of reprimands for failing to appear in court, despite never being served with a subpoena, and for failing to attend a staff meeting for a day he had scheduled to be on vacation. He further alleges that his paycheck has been withheld and he was wrongfully held responsible for improper changes to the Breathitt County School Calender. Napier contends that as a result of these actions, he suffers from anxiety and depression, and is unable to work.

In his complaint, Napier asserts the following claims against all of the Defendants: Count I - violation of his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights; Count II - violation of his First Amendment rights; Count III - intentional and unlawful discrimination in violation of KRS 161.164; Count IV - violation of a Kentucky statute, KRS 446.070; Count V - retaliation for whistleblowing, in violation of KRS 61.101; Count VI - state law defamation; and Count VII - state law intentional infliction of emotional distress [DE #1]. In previous rulings, the Court has dismissed all claims against the Defendants, with the exception of Napier's First Amendment retaliation claims against Defendants Turner and Stevens. At this time, Counts I, II, III and V remain pending against the BOE.

II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Under Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is proper " if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Northup Properties, Inc. v. Chesapeake Appalachia, L.L.C., 567 F.3d 767, 771 (6th Cir. 2009). The moving party, here the BOE, bears the initial burden and must identify " those portions of the pleadings, depositions . . . which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue

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of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986)(internal citations omitted). The movant may meet this burden by demonstrating the absence of evidence supporting one or more essential elements of the non-movant's claim. Id. at 322-25. Once the moving party has met its burden of production, the nonmoving party must come forward with significant probative evidence showing that a genuine issue exists for trial. Dixon v. Gonzales, 481 F.3d 324, 330 (6th Cir. 2007). Conclusory allegations are not enough to allow a nonmoving party to withstand a motion for summary judgment. Moore v. Philip Morris Companies, Inc., 8 F.3d 335, 343 (6th Cir. 1993). The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence to support the nonmoving party's position will be insufficient; rather, there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the nonmoving party. Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, Inc. v. City of ...


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