Gressley v. Deutsch, No. 93-CV-213-D.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Wyoming
Writing for the CourtDOWNES
Citation890 F. Supp. 1474
Docket NumberNo. 93-CV-213-D.
Decision Date05 October 1994
PartiesGene M. GRESSLEY, Plaintiff, v. Helen DEUTSCH, Terry P. Roark, and The Trustees of the University of Wyoming: Bryan Sharratt, W. Perry Dray, Dan Kinnaman, Forrest Kepler, Harry Lee Harris, Peter M. Jorgensen, Geraldine Kirk, Jerry Saunders, M.D., Dave Bonner, Deborah Healy Hammons, David W. "Bud" Updike, and F. Richard Brown, Individually, and in their Official Capacities, Defendants.

890 F. Supp. 1474

Gene M. GRESSLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
Helen DEUTSCH, Terry P. Roark, and The Trustees of the University of Wyoming: Bryan Sharratt, W. Perry Dray, Dan Kinnaman, Forrest Kepler, Harry Lee Harris, Peter M. Jorgensen, Geraldine Kirk, Jerry Saunders, M.D., Dave Bonner, Deborah Healy Hammons, David W. "Bud" Updike, and F. Richard Brown, Individually, and in their Official Capacities, Defendants.

No. 93-CV-213-D.

United States District Court, D. Wyoming.

October 5, 1994.


890 F. Supp. 1475
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890 F. Supp. 1476
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Harold F. Buck, Buck Law Offices, Walter Urbigkit, Cheyenne, WY, for plaintiff, Gene M. Gressley

Kermit C. Brown, Brown, Erickson & Hiser, Rawlins, WY, for defendant, Helen Deutsch.

Patrick E. Hacker, Cheyenne, WY, for defendant, Terry P. Roark, individually and as President of the University of Wyoming, in his official capacity.

Ford T. Bussart, Bussart, West, Rossetti, Pisia & Tyler, P.C., Rock Springs, WY, for Trustees of the University of Wyoming.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS

DOWNES, District Judge.

The above-entitled matter comes before the Court on several motions: Defendant, Helen Deutsch's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint; Defendant, University of Wyoming Board of Trustees' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint; and Defendant, Terry P. Roark's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint.1 The Court, having carefully reviewed Defendants' various motions and memorandum in support thereof,2 Plaintiff's response to these motions, having heard oral argument on the same and being fully advised in the premises, FINDS and ORDERS as follows:

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Dr. Gene Gressley ("Dr. Gressley") was initially employed by the University of Wyoming in 1956 as an Archivist and instructor at the University Library.3 In 1959 Dr. Gressley was promoted to the position of Assistant Professor. In 1960 he was granted tenure by the University in the library. As a result of his tenure, Dr. Gressley could only be dismissed for cause in accordance with the applicable University of Wyoming regulations. See University Regulation 801(2)(b) and Regulation of Trustees, Part V, ? 7, attached to Plaintiff's original Complaint, Exhibit No.'s 3 and 4. Dr. Gressley was promoted to Associate Professor in 1962 and to Assistant Director of the library, Director of the Division of Rare Books and Special Collections, Research Professor of American Studies, and Professor in the University Library in 1963. In 1969, Dr. Gressley was also appointed Director of American Studies. At some point, after 1969, Dr. Gressley was made Assistant to the President for the American Heritage Center. One of Dr. Gressley's responsibilities was to collect archival material for the American Heritage Center. Over the years Dr. Gressley was able to acquire significant amounts of archival material from various donors. During this time Dr. Gressley also developed personal ties with some of these donors.

In 1987, the Trustees of the University of Wyoming hired Defendant, Dr. Terry P. Roark, to serve as President of the University. In December of 1987 President Roark reassigned Dr. Gressley from his position as Professor in the University Library and Director of the American Heritage Center to the position of University Professor and Assistant to the President for the American Heritage Center Development. As a University Professor Dr. Gressley was responsible

890 F. Supp. 1480
for teaching, research, and service activities. Administratively, he was to assist in raising funds for the building and operation of the American Heritage Center. In place of Dr. Gressley, Lewis Dabney was appointed Acting Director of the American Heritage Center. Mr. Dabney was subsequently replaced by David Baker, who also served as general counsel for the University of Wyoming

In February of 1988, Dr. Gressley's office was relocated to the University of Wyoming's Foundation House where he was to assist in raising funds for the building and operation of the American Heritage Center. Despite his removal as Director of the American Heritage Center, donors continued to contact Dr. Gressley, allegedly concerning the mishandling of gifts by his successors at the American Heritage Center. Dr. Gressley contends that he forwarded this correspondence to his successors, but asserts that these donors were not placated. Dr. Gressley grew exasperated with the handling of American Heritage Center affairs and his comments and criticisms to donors and the public became more direct. (See Plaintiff's Amended Complaint ? 31.)

In August of 1991, Dr. Gressley, responding to a July 30, 1991 letter from President Roark, suggested that he be allowed to send a form letter "to my friends, who are also friends and donors to the University and Center (American Heritage Center)." (Plaintiff's original Complaint, Exhibit No. 6.) In his proposed form letter to his friends and University donors, Dr. Gressley states:

You may find it as interesting, as I do, that my value to the University is no longer perceived as making friends for the University and acquiring funds and material for the University, but rather in teaching a freshman survey and doing research for which I am restricted in my financial underwriting.

Id. By letter dated August 29, 1991, President Roark responded to Dr. Gressley, "To the extent you are seeking my approval of your letter you certainly do not have it. I do not think the letter is in the best interest of the University, nor even your own best interest." Id. President Roark further stated that "the reason I provided instruction to you regarding the manner in which to communicate to donors and patrons of the University was my concern about your apparent inability to communicate accurately and in the best interests of the University." Id.

In June of 1990, Dr. Gressley's assignment as Assistant to the President for the American Heritage Center Development was concluded by President Roark. Dr. Gressley asserts that this action was an attempt to preclude him from having any direct involvement with the American Heritage Center as retaliation for his criticism of the successor Directors of the American Heritage Center. In the fall of 1991 Dr. Gressley's office was relocated to the basement of the Extended Studies building. Apparently, Dr. Gressley requested that he be allowed to furnish his office with some materials on loan from the University of Wyoming's American Heritage Center "to make the appearance of his new office seem fitting for a University Professor." (Plaintiff's Amended Complaint ? 36.) President Roark refused to allow Gressley to move University property from his former office to his new office. Based upon representations made by David Baker4 concerning ownership and "in order to maintain a modicum of dignity," Dr. Gressley contacted University donors so their property could be "utilized to provide some class and convenience for his Gressley's reassigned basement office." Id.

One of the University donors that Dr. Gressley contacted was Ms. Helen Deutsch. Ms. Deutsch's late husband was a film composer whose works (artifacts) had apparently been secured for the University by Dr. Gressley. Dr. Gressley asserts that Ms. Deutsch told him he could move her late husband's artifacts (in particular a "Duffy" painting) to his new office and, allegedly, "asked him Dr. Gressley to write a letter for her signature and back date it granting

890 F. Supp. 1481
permission." Id. ? 37. Dr. Gressley wrote such a letter. See Id.; see also, Exhibit 4 as attached to Plaintiff's Original Complaint. According to Dr. Gressley, Ms. Deutsch subsequently became upset with him when one of the artifacts her late husband had given to the University (a set of cufflinks) was not returned at her request. As a consequence, Ms. Deutsch delivered the letters from Dr. Gressley5 to President Roark and Mr. Baker. (Plaintiff's Amended Complaint ? 38.) Subsequent to the receipt of these letters, proceedings were initiated by President Roark to terminate Dr. Gressley from his position as a tenured University Professor. Id. ?? 40-41; see also, Exhibit No. 1 to Plaintiff's original Complaint

In April of 1992, President Roark submitted informal charges against Dr. Gressley in which he recommended that Dr. Gressley be dismissed as an employee of the University of Wyoming. See Exhibit No. 1, as attached to Plaintiff's original Complaint. President Roark's informal charges set forth three (3) reasons, along with specific facts in support thereof, why he sought the dismissal of Dr. Gressley: (1) solicitation of contribution and receiving communications which were not forwarded to the appropriate persons and communication with donors in violation of instructions and job descriptions; (2) uncooperative in responding to directives and being insubordinate to the express instructions of the President of the University of Wyoming; and (3) negligent or deliberately inaccurate accounting for University property and failing to return valuable property to the American Heritage Center. (See Plaintiff's original Complaint, Exhibit No. 1.)

After an apparent attempt to settle the differences between President Roark and Dr. Gressley proved unavailing, counsel for Dr. Gressley requested that President Roark's charges be filed.6 Under the University of Wyoming's regulations, University Regulation 801(3)(a)(3) (hereinafter "UniReg."), "if at any time during the preliminary proceedings the faculty member requests that the formal proceedings be held, these shall be initiated within one month or the matter shall be dropped." (Plaintiff's original Complaint, Exhibit No. 3.) Plaintiff's Amended Complaint indicates that formal charges were not brought or filed against Dr. Gressley until November 10, 1992. (See Plaintiff's...

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11 practice notes
  • Churchill v. Univ. of Colo. at Boulder, No. 11SC25.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • 10 Septiembre 2012
    ...of academic misconduct and dishonesty seem especially ripe for creating angry and emotional litigants. See Gressley v. Deutsch, 890 F.Supp. 1474, 1491 (D.Wyo.1994); accord Pierson, 386 U.S. at 554, 87 S.Ct. 1213 (“It is a judge's duty to decide all cases ..., including controversial [285 P.......
  • Day v. Board of Regents of University of Nebraska, No. 4:CV94-3193.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Nebraska
    • 24 Octubre 1995
    ...Id. See e.g. McCabe v. Sharrett, 12 F.3d 1558 (11th Cir.1994); Marshall v. Allen, 984 F.2d 787 (7th Cir.1993); Gressley v. Deutsch, 890 F.Supp. 1474 (D.Wyo.1994); Lowenstein v. Wolff, 1994 WL 411389 (N.D.Ill.1994). There is no reason that the Eighth's Circuit's rationale in Brown should not......
  • Daniel v. American Bd. of Emergency Medicine, No. 90-CV-1086A.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • 19 Noviembre 1997
    ...immunity for a claim covered by liability insurance did not waive Eleventh Amendment immunity in federal court); Gressley v. Deutsch, 890 F.Supp. 1474, 1488 (D.Wy.1994) (even if the University of Wyoming had insurance policy to cover the civil rights claims asserted by the plaintiff, such p......
  • Jemaneh v. Univ. of Wyo., Civil Action No. 12–cv–02383–RM–MJW
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 11 Marzo 2015
    ...against the Individual Defendants in their official capacities is, in essence, a suit against the University. See Gressley v. Deutsch, 890 F.Supp. 1474, 1487–88 (D.Wyo.1994) (finding the University of Wyoming is to be treated as an “arm” of the state). Plaintiff's Seventh and Eighth Claims ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • Churchill v. Univ. of Colo. at Boulder, No. 11SC25.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • 10 Septiembre 2012
    ...of academic misconduct and dishonesty seem especially ripe for creating angry and emotional litigants. See Gressley v. Deutsch, 890 F.Supp. 1474, 1491 (D.Wyo.1994); accord Pierson, 386 U.S. at 554, 87 S.Ct. 1213 (“It is a judge's duty to decide all cases ..., including controversial [285 P.......
  • Jemaneh v. Univ. of Wyo., Civil Action No. 12–cv–02383–RM–MJW
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Colorado
    • 11 Marzo 2015
    ...against the Individual Defendants in their official capacities is, in essence, a suit against the University. See Gressley v. Deutsch, 890 F.Supp. 1474, 1487–88 (D.Wyo.1994) (finding the University of Wyoming is to be treated as an “arm” of the state). Plaintiff's Seventh and Eighth Claims ......
  • Daniel v. American Bd. of Emergency Medicine, No. 90-CV-1086A.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • 19 Noviembre 1997
    ...immunity for a claim covered by liability insurance did not waive Eleventh Amendment immunity in federal court); Gressley v. Deutsch, 890 F.Supp. 1474, 1488 (D.Wy.1994) (even if the University of Wyoming had insurance policy to cover the civil rights claims asserted by the plaintiff, such p......
  • Day v. Board of Regents of University of Nebraska, No. 4:CV94-3193.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Nebraska
    • 24 Octubre 1995
    ...Id. See e.g. McCabe v. Sharrett, 12 F.3d 1558 (11th Cir.1994); Marshall v. Allen, 984 F.2d 787 (7th Cir.1993); Gressley v. Deutsch, 890 F.Supp. 1474 (D.Wyo.1994); Lowenstein v. Wolff, 1994 WL 411389 (N.D.Ill.1994). There is no reason that the Eighth's Circuit's rationale in Brown should not......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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