195 F.3d 1208 (10th Cir. 1999), 97-7099, Johnson v. Martin

Docket Nº:97-7099 ,97-7101, 97-7103
Citation:195 F.3d 1208
Party Name:LILA B. JOHNSON; LORETTA CHAPLIN HARDRIDGE; NATALIE R. HENRY; SHAWN JORDAN; JOYCE L. JACKSON; CAROLYN EMBRY; VANELLA C. TAYLOR; and LENNORE ZACHARY, on behalf of themselves and on behalf of other similarly situated,Plaintiffs - Appellees, v. JAMES MARTIN, Former Director of Building Codes & Inspectors, in his individual and official capacities; JOH
Case Date:November 01, 1999
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
 
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195 F.3d 1208 (10th Cir. 1999)

LILA B. JOHNSON; LORETTA CHAPLIN HARDRIDGE; NATALIE R. HENRY; SHAWN JORDAN; JOYCE L. JACKSON; CAROLYN EMBRY; VANELLA C. TAYLOR; and LENNORE ZACHARY, on behalf of themselves and on behalf of other similarly situated,Plaintiffs - Appellees,

v.

JAMES MARTIN, Former Director of Building Codes & Inspectors, in his individual and official capacities; JOHN WILLIAMSON, former Personnel Director, in his official and individual capacities; GARRY GARVIN, current Assistant planner, in his official and individual capacities, Defendants-Appellants,

CITY OF MUSKOGEE, a municipal corporation, Defendant.

Nos. 97-7099 ,97-7101, 97-7103

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

November 1, 1999

Appeal from the United States District Court, for the Eastern District of Oklahoma. D.C. No. 96-CV-536-B

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Timothy D. Eisel (Jim T. Priest with him on the briefs), McKinney, Stringer and Webster, P.C., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Appellant James Martin.

Betty Outhier Williams (Jan Marie Cunningham with her on the brief), Gage and Williams Law Firm, Muskogee, Oklahoma, for Appellants Garry Garvin and John Williamson.

John Mack Butler (David R. Blades with him on the briefs), John Mack Butler & Associates, Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Appellees.

Caesar C. Latimer, Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Appellee Lila B. Johnson.

Before HENRY, McKAY, and BRISCOE, Circuit Judges.

HENRY, Circuit Judge.

James Martin, Gary Garvin, and John Williamson, current and former city officials for the City of Muskogee, Oklahoma, seek to appeal the district court's interlocutory order denying their motions for summary judgment. The plaintiff-appellees, all citizens of Muskogee, alleged that, while acting as the Director of the Building Codes and Enforcement Department of the City of Muskogee, the defendant James Martin violated their rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by sexually harassing them over an extended period of time (from 1982 until 1996). The plaintiffs further alleged that the defendant Garry Garvin (the Assistant City Planner for the City of Muskogee) and the defendant John Williamson (the City's Personnel Director from 1977 until 1996) violated their rights under the Equal Protection Clause by failing to take adequate remedial action after they became aware of Mr. Martin's sexually harassing conduct. Messrs. Martin, Garvin, and Williamson argued unsuccessfully

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to the district court that they were entitled to qualified immunity on these claims.

We first conclude that we have jurisdiction over these appeals. On the merits, we conclude that, during the period at issue, it was clearly established that a public official could be held liable under the Equal Protection Clause for sexually harassing a private citizen. Finally, accepting the plaintiffs' allegations as true, we conclude that a reasonable factfinder could determine that Mr. Garvin and Mr. Williamson could be held liable as supervisors for Mr. Martin's conduct. Thus, the district court properly denied the defendants' motions for summary judgment.

II. BACKGROUND

In their complaint and in deposition testimony and statements submitted to the district court, the plaintiffs alleged that, beginning in 1982 and continuing until January 1996, Mr. Martin used his position as Director of the City of Muskogee's Building Codes and Enforcement Department to commit various acts of sexual harassment. Mr. Martin's position with the City vested him with the authority to certify that various construction projects complied with municipal building codes. Although the plaintiffs' allegations differ in many details, most involve attempts by Mr. Martin to obtain sexual favors in exchange for favorable consideration of permit applications and favorable determinations of compliance with city codes.

As summarized by the district court, see Garvin and Williamsons' App. vol. III, at 1247-55, the plaintiffs advanced the following allegations against Mr. Martin:

Carolyn Embry. Ms. Embry alleged that she has known Mr. Martin since sometime between 1979 and 1982. She stated that Mr. Martin repeatedly made sexual comments to her and engaged in unwelcome touching. She maintained that these contacts occurred between 1982 and 1996 and that they occurred in Mr. Martin's office, at various properties that he was inspecting, and at her home. She asserts that Mr. Martin had authority over building permits that she needed for her hair salon business.

Vanella Taylor. Ms. Taylor alleged that, in March 1992, when she was attempting to convert her home into a daycare center, Mr. Martin came to her home and made sexual remarks. She maintained that Mr. Martin continued to visit her home and business and that, when Ms. Taylor's husband purchased a new home in October 1994, Mr. Martin solicited her to meet him there. According to Ms. Taylor, the last time Mr Martin visited her was in December of 1995, when he came to the daycare center.

Joyce Jackson. Ms. Jackson alleged that she met Mr. Martin in April 1993 when she needed city approval for construction on her home. She said that Mr. Martin asked her personal questions, made comments of a sexual nature, told her that he could do something to help her, and then requested sexual favors. On one occasion, she asserted, Mr. Martin attempted forcible sex. She said that these incidents occurred until late 1994.

Shawn Jordan. Ms. Jordan alleged that Mr. Martin came to her home in April 1994 in order to inspect some electrical work. He gave her estimates of repair costs, and when she asked him why the repair estimate was so high, he propositioned her for sexual favors in exchange for a lower estimate. Later, when the electrical repairs were being made, he appeared at her house and looked under her nightgown. During a final inspection, Ms. Jordan maintained, Mr. Martin came to her house and touched her in a sexual manner. Finally, in February 1995, he appeared at her house again, making sexual references and commenting on her pregnancy.

Loretta Champlin Hardrige. Ms. Hardridge alleged that Mr. Martin came to her home in September 1994, when it was being repaired. He identified himself as the city inspector and, during the inspection, asked her to meet him in a motel

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room. He allegedly told her that she could have a difficult time passing the inspections. About one week later, Mr. Martin saw her in his office, and he asked her if she "had decided." Garvin and Williamson's App. vol II, at 839. In late September or early October of 1994, he allegedly made sexual remarks to her and threatened to find her business in violation of municipal codes. She asserted that Mr. Martin touched her in a sexual manner and continued to harass her through January 1996.

Natalie R. Henry. Ms. Henry alleged that Mr. Martin came to her home in February 1995 to inspect a smoke alarm. While touching her, he told her that he could take care of everything she needed in order to open a day care center. When she rebuked him, he told her to meet him wearing a gown.

Lennore Zachary. Ms. Zachary alleged that she first met Mr. Martin when he appeared at some property owned by her and her mother. Mr. Martin made comments about her appearance. In June 1995, Ms. Zachary explained, she sought to open a facility for juvenile delinquents. She alleged that Mr. Martin stated to her that problems with the facility could be avoided if she would be nicer to him. He then offered money in exchange for sex. In the fall of 1995, Mr. Martin visited her home and told her that she needed a certificate for the house. She stated that he forced his way into the house and that he made sexual comments to her and requested sexual acts from her.

Lila Johnson. Ms. Johnson alleged that Mr. Martin came to her house on January 18, 1996, identified himself as the City Code inspector, told her that he would need to inspect her property, and began hugging and touching her in a sexual manner. On the following day, Ms. Johnson alleged, Mr. Martin called her and asked if she "wanted company." Id. at 754.

Of all these plaintiffs, only Ms. Jordan, Ms. Henry, and Ms. Johnson stated that they complained about Mr. Martin's conduct to other city officials. Ms. Jordan was the first to complain. She reported that, in July 1994, after Mr. Martin had propositioned her in exchange for sexual favors, she attempted unsuccessfully to speak with Mr. Martin's supervisor over the telephone. Ms. Embry then advised her to write a letter to Mr. Garvin, whom she said was Mr. Martin's supervisor. Ms. Jordan did so, but on the day after she sent the letter, Mr. Martin came to her house and confronted her with it. See id. at 832.

Ms. Henry testified that she complained about Mr. Martin the following year. She stated that, in the spring of 1995, after Mr. Martin had visited her home and told her to meet him with a gown on, she went to Mr. Garvin's office and reported the incident to him personally. According to Ms. Henry, Mr. Garvin told her, "I'll take care of this for you, don't worry about it." See id. vol. III, at 905.

Finally, in January 1996, after Mr. Martin hugged and touched her in a sexual manner, Ms. Johnson reported his conduct to city officials. After meeting with Mr. Williamson, Mr. Martin submitted his resignation.

In addition to the complaints made by Ms. Jordan, Ms. Henry, and Ms. Johnson, the record indicates that, in 1993, an unidentified woman met with Mr. Williamson (the City's Personnel Director) about possible fraud involving the roofing of her house. Mr. Williamson referred the woman to the Muskogee Police Department, and, during her interview with the Department, she reported that...

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