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Warner v. Bevin

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

January 9, 2017

EDE WARNER, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
MATT BEVIN et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          David J. Hale, Judge.

         Plaintiff Ede Warner, Jr., [1] filed the instant pro se civil action proceeding in forma pauperis. This matter is now before the Court on initial review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) and McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). Upon initial screening of the complaint, the instant action will be dismissed for the reasons that follow.

         I.

         Plaintiff originally filed this action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, but that court transferred the case here. Plaintiff names the following Defendants: Governor Matt Bevin; University of Louisville (UL) President James Ramsey; UL officials or employees Leslie Strohm, Angela Koshewa, Sam Connally, Malinda Durbin, and Shirley Willihnganz; the UL Board of Trustees; Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell; “Jefferson County Kentucky Attorney's Office, Child Support Division”; Jacob Payne, whom he identifies as employed by the “PageOne Kentucky; Ville Voice”; and the “Louisville Branch of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.”

         As his statement of the claim, Plaintiff states that after receiving tenure as a professor at UL, in 2000, he “was invited to create a University Diversity Initiative.” Plaintiff states, “In 2006, 2009, and 2011, I was involved in three personal and professional conflicts against several current and former students, staff, and faculty, all were Black.” He states, “However, the retaliation system that was directed by Angela Koshewa, the University Counsel, and clearly involved Human Resources, Malinda Durbin and Sam Connally, as well as others as ordered, chose to participate in all of these events until I was separated in a way that breached the University's contractual obligations regarding my professional career.”

         Plaintiff then makes reference to an August 2015 Kentucky Supreme Court case which he states ruled in favor of Mary Banker in a suit against UL. He states, “The case establishes a system of retaliation existed between the Legal Department and Human Resources as early as 2008. This proves as material fact a retaliation system existed at UofL run by University Counsel and involving Human Resources.” Plaintiff also states, “In February 2015, fired Human Resources Vice President, Sam Connally files a retaliation lawsuit against the University of Louisville.” According to Plaintiff, the lawsuit claimed that Connally was the target of retaliation in October 2014 for filing a grievance against the Provost “in part for condoning that the Legal Department lied to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in an attempt to overturn a 2012 race discrimination finding by Human Resources against the Financial Aid Office.” Plaintiff states, “As VP for Human Resources, Connally would have insider knowledge of the existence of a retaliation system, whether his allegations were true, ie., whether he was the target or not.”

         Plaintiff further states as follows:

This action addresses three different aspects of this conspiracy: in the beginning, a conspiracy inside the University of Louisville using a retaliation system to breach the covenant of good faith and fair dealing and breach tenure, intellectual property, and academic freedom contractual obligations that started among members within UofL and was all racially-motivated; second, beginning in 2009 with my press conference after my arrest, the conspiracy grew to agents outside the University, specifically, the Jefferson County Attorney's office directed by Mike O'Connell, the Louisville Branch of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Jacob Payne, and many others, some that I can't prove yet, both inside and outside Kentucky; third, and finally, agents engaging in a racially motivated Section 1983 conspiracy by using an illegal legal strategy to create strategic flexibility regarding the entire cover-up by President James Ramsey, University Attorney's Angela Koshewa and Leslie Strohm, and Governor Matt Bevin[].

         Plaintiff describes Count 1 as “[a] UofL Conspiracy to engage in and cover-up a Breach of Contract and Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing in my 2011 Separation Agreement that was Racially Motivated.” Plaintiff recounts what he describes as racially-motivated actions taken against him by UL officials dating back to 2006. He states that he was arrested in 2009 and that the prosecutor worked with UL “to assure a conviction without a trial, since they were lacking evidence . . . .” Plaintiff states that he ultimately pleaded guilty to the charges out of “fear.” He reports that he “filed a racial discriminatory harassment complaint against several University officials, including the University counsel.” He states that the complaint “alleged that after my arrest on July 6, 2009, University officials engaged in a series of acts of harassment and violation of University policy, in addition to those described above since 2004 . . . .” Plaintiff goes on to describe a number of actions taken against him in 2011 by UL officials. He states that he filed an EEOC complaint in July 2011 and that he settled the complaint with UL.

         Plaintiff identifies Claim 2 as “[a] Conspiracy between Uof L and other Actors to engage in and cover-up a Breach of Contract and Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing in my 2011 Separation Agreement that was Racially Motivated.” Plaintiff states under the sub-heading “2013”: “Over the next year, acts that breached the voluntary settlement continued, plus I knew the settlement ‘lowballed' even though I didn't fully understand the valid legal reasons for it, focusing on the misconduct, not the contractual obligations, and on top of that, the harassment and surveillance didn't end.” He continues, “So I went to the EEOC and filed another complaint in Indianapolis, then initiated legal action in Western Kentucky Federal District Court.” He describes a previous case filed in this Court, Warner v. University of Louisville, Civil Action No. 3:12-cv-395-JGH. He makes a variety of complaints about the handling of that case and the evidence presented therein.

         Plaintiff next states under the heading “2014”: “In April, 2014, the Jefferson County Attorney's Office, Child Support Division executed a child support order by Motriyo Isles-Warner against me.” He complains that the amount he was ordered to pay assumed that he was still making the same salary at UL that he was making in 2009. He states that because of a delay in receiving mailings he was over $5, 000 in arrears. According to the complaint, Plaintiff tried to contact the Jefferson County Attorney's Office about an adjustment to the amount to no avail. Plaintiff states that a garnishment was issued at two places of employment and that he was not rehired at either job. Plaintiff states, “In addition to the obvious harassment and misconduct in the execution and notification of the order, it should have been created through legal process outlined in the Uniform Family Support Act.” He continues, “While Kentucky had the right to create the order, absent the perjured application, as well as having the right to enforce the order in Indiana, according to Federal law, the State procedures are clear that the local Kentucky office should have assisted in the modification.” He maintains that the Child Support Office should have stopped the execution of the order pending an investigation and adjustment.

         Plaintiff describes Claim 3 as “A Racially Motivated Section 1983 Conspiracy Covering Up the Use of an Illegal Legal Strategy Relative to the Crimes in Counts 1, 2.” In support of this claim, Plaintiff states as follows:

The June 17, 2016 Executive Order executed by Governor Bevin to eliminate the entire existing University of Louisville Board of Trustees, had a subtext that wasn't part of the broader discussion. Bevin is obstructing the UofL Board of Trustees from ending President Ramsey's strategy of hiding the announcement of UofL's misconduct related to my wrongful termination, as he tries to buy time in another case that is related, Connally v. UofL. Connally is the Human Resources Vice President that engaged in misconduct against me to cover up the negligence against me by Malinda Durbin, UofL's former sexual harassment officer that attempted and failed to have me arrested on January 11, 2011, where a judge said the evidence lacked probable cause for the crimes of harassing and stalking. Connally is suing the University for retaliation, using my story and the massive liability it carries, as leverage to try and coerce Uof L into a settlement.
The decision to eliminate the existing board, and cover it up with a 3 person all African American temporary board is racially motivated as a further attempt to keep the media off the race angle or in the event that Connally goes public, Bevin won't look like he is complicit in knowing about the racially-motivated breaches of contract, ...

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