Huntsman v. Perry Local Schools Board of Education, 052810 FED6, 09-3030

Docket Nº:09-3030
Opinion Judge:CLAY, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:BARD HUNTSMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant; v. PERRY LOCAL SCHOOLS BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al., Defendants-Appellees. LARRY SHENISE, Attorney-Appellant,
Judge Panel:BEFORE: CLAY and GILMAN, Circuit Judges; and ZATKOFF, District Judge.
Case Date:May 28, 2010
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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BARD HUNTSMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant;

LARRY SHENISE, Attorney-Appellant,

v.

PERRY LOCAL SCHOOLS BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 09-3030

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

May 28, 2010

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION

ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO

BEFORE: CLAY and GILMAN, Circuit Judges; and ZATKOFF, District Judge. [*]

OPINION

CLAY, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff, Bard Huntsman ("Huntsman"), appeals from the district court order dismissing his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint on August 19, 2008. Attorney-Appellant, Larry D. Shenise ("Attorney Shenise"), separately appeals from the district court's imposition of sanctions entered in a December 5, 2008 order. Huntsman filed suit alleging procedural due process violations, other constitutional claims, and a state law spoliation of evidence claim against Defendants, Perry Local Schools Board of Education ("Board of Education") and Kenneth Hardwick, arising out of the termination of Huntsman's employment as a teacher. The district court dismissed the suit on three separate grounds: 1) untimeliness under the applicable statute of limitations, 2) res judicata, and 3) failure to state a claim. The district court imposed sanctions pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 ("Rule 11") on Attorney Shenise, requiring him to pay Defendants' attorney fees in the amount of $3, 135.00. Defendants also moved this Court for sanctions and costs on appeal pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 38. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we DISMISS Huntsman's appeal for lack of jurisdiction, AFFIRM the district court's award of Rule 11 sanctions, and IMPOSE partial appellate sanctions on Attorney Shenise.

BACKGROUND

The instant case began with events that took place in 1997. Huntsman was employed by the Perry Local Schools Board of Education as a teacher beginning in 1983. In 1997, information was brought to the attention of Defendants relating to Huntsman's alleged accessing of sexually oriented, inappropriate websites on school computers, allowing students access to same, and viewing these websites with students. Huntsman was placed on paid leave of absence from April 15, 1997 to May 21, 1997 and received notice that the Board of Education would consider his termination at a May 22, 1997 meeting. At that meeting, the Board of Education passed a resolution initiating termination proceedings and suspending Huntsman without pay or benefits. Further allegations of sexual misconduct involving Huntsman came to light over the summer of 1997, and in August 1997 the Board of Education passed a resolution to continue Huntsman's suspension and termination proceedings.

Huntsman was criminally charged in relation to these allegations of misconduct, and his counsel requested on October 13, 1997, that the termination proceedings against Huntsman be postponed pending the resolution of his criminal charges. Ultimately, Huntsman was convicted of one count of gross sexual imposition and five counts of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles and was incarcerated for one year. His convictions were reversed on appeal, and he then pled no contest and was convicted of two counts of contributing to the unruliness or delinquency of a child in violation of Ohio Rev. Code § 2919.24.

On January 13, 1998, the Board of Education voted to terminate Huntsman. Through Huntsman's authorized representative, his contributions to the State Teachers Retirement System were withdrawn on January 26, 1998, which required completing an application certifying that Huntsman was no longer teaching or under any contract or agreement to teach in the future, and was not under a leave of absence from any teaching position. On September 30, 1999, Huntsman's counsel requested a status conference to reactivate the postponed termination proceedings, apparently despite Hunstman's prior termination. Huntsman then attended three Board of Education meetings, on September 26, 2000, October 25, 2000, and December 19, 2000, in which he requested the Board go into executive session to discuss his employment status, which was denied.

Huntsman subsequently engaged in litigation and discussion with the State Board of Education, not a party to the instant case, regarding his permanent elementary and eight-year teaching certificates. As of the State Board of Education's July 8-10, 2002 meeting, Huntsman's teaching certificates were revoked. Ohio law does not permit Huntsman's teaching credentials to be reinstated due to the nature of his convictions to which he pled no contest.

Huntsman, proceeding through Attorney Shenise, filed a complaint on June 3, 2002 in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas (the "state trial court"). That complaint requested a declaratory judgment regarding Huntsman's employment status and sought reinstatement as a teacher in the Perry Local Schools, along with back pay and benefits, as well as attorney fees. The parties filed several stipulated facts before this complaint was voluntarily dismissed without prejudice by Huntsman on February 5, 2003.

Huntsman re-filed his complaint, in an amended version, on February 4, 2004, adding new causes of action for wrongful discharge and breach of contract. The state trial court considered the amended complaint, along with the stipulated facts from the original suit, in granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment on October 18, 2004. Huntsman appealed to the Fifth District Court of Appeals (the "state court of appeals"), which affirmed the state trial court in a unanimous opinion on June 27, 2005. On a motion to reconsider, the state court of...

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