Korf v. Ball State University

Decision Date15 February 1984
Docket NumberNo. 83-1625,83-1625
Citation726 F.2d 1222
Parties16 Ed. Law Rep. 26 William E. KORF, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. BALL STATE UNIVERSITY; Board of Trustees, of Ball State University; Robert P. Bell, individually and in his capacity as President of Ball State University; Will Parker, individually and in his capacity as President of the Board of Trustees of Ball State University; Frank A. Bracken, individually and in his capacity as Vice-President of the Board of Trustees of Ball State University; James P. Garretson, individually and in his capacity as Secretary of the Board of Trustees of Ball State University; Dorothy S. O'Maley, individually as in her capacity as Assistant Secretary of the Board of Trustees of Ball State University; James W. Parks, individually and in his capacity as a member of the Board of Trustees of Ball State University; Jack Peckinpaugh, individually and in his capacity as a member of the Board of Trustees of Ball State University; T. Edwin Schouweiler, individually and in his capacity as a member of the Board of Trustees of Ball State University; Christy A. Swing, individually and in her capacity as a member of the Board of Trustees of Ball State University, Defendants-Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit

Richard J. Swanson, Segal & Macey, Indianapolis, Ind., for plaintiff-appellant.

Jon H. Moll, DeFur, Voran, Hanley, Radcliff & Reed, Muncie, Ind., for defendants-appellees.

Before BAUER and COFFEY, Circuit Judges, and DUMBAULD, Senior District Judge. *

COFFEY, Circuit Judge.

Dr. William E. Korf appeals the district court's decision granting summary judgment to the defendants in an action brought by Dr. Korf following his termination as a tenured Associate Professor of Music History and Musicology at Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana. On appeal Dr. Korf argues that the entry of summary judgment was an improper denial of his due process and equal protection claims, and his challenge to the defendants' qualified immunity. Dr. Korf also argues that the district court abused its discretion in denying him the opportunity to conduct further discovery and in holding that the Eleventh Amendment provides defendants with immunity from prospective and injunctive relief. We AFFIRM.

I.

In February, 1981, Dr. Korf was informed by Lloyd Nelson, Dean of Ball State's College of Fine and Applied Arts, that certain of his current and former male students had accused him of sexual harassment. The students alleged that the harassment consisted of Dr. Korf's making unwelcomed sexual advances towards them and offering good grades contingent upon sexual involvement. Dean Nelson informed Dr. Korf that he intended to commence termination proceedings against him, and provided him the opportunity to resign. Dr. Korf denied the accusations and refused to resign. In accordance with established procedures, a committee was formed to investigate the charges. On April 2, 1981, the committee concluded that sufficient grounds existed to institute formal termination proceedings against Dr. Korf.

The president of Ball State, Dr. Robert P. Bell, reviewed the committee's recommendation and informed Dr. Korf of the committee's findings. Based on those findings, on April 24, 1981, Dr. Bell told Dr. Korf that formal termination proceedings were being commenced and that he had the right to a hearing before an ad hoc hearing committee, drawn from the University Senate Judicial Committee, to determine whether or not Dr. Korf should be removed from his position. Dr. Korf requested a hearing and the University complied with his request on May 20, 1981.

At that hearing, a student related the relationship he had had with Dr. Korf and testified that Dr. Korf gave him money and gifts in exchange for sexual acts. 1 In addition, the student alleged that he was promised good grades. While denying that grades were involved, Dr. Korf admitted his sexual involvement with this student. The committee also heard testimony from three individuals and had statements of four other individuals who recounted Dr. Korf's sexual advances towards them while or after they were his students.

On May 21, 1981, the committee made the following findings:

"Based on the evidence provided at the hearing on May 20, 1981, we find Dr. William E. Korf guilty of unethical conduct because he used his position and influence as a teacher to exploit students for his private advantage. The evidence indicates a pattern of behavior in which he frequently built a personal, friendly relationship, followed by sexual advances, often in his home.

"This pattern was evidenced by the testimony of six (6) witnesses who were either present or submitted signed statements ... and by two (2) individuals who made statements to the Affirmative Action Officer .... These eight (8) people are current or former students in one or more of Dr. Korf's classes.

"We find insufficient evidence to support the allegation that Dr. Korf encouraged dishonest academic conduct."

The committee based its finding that Dr. Korf engaged in unethical conduct on paragraph 2 of the American Association of University Professors ("AAUP") Statement on Professional Ethics which was adopted by Ball State University in 1967 and published in its Faculty Handbook. 2 Even though the committee found Dr. Korf guilty of unethical conduct, they recommended only that Dr. Korf be placed on a three-year period of probation, rather than discharged, because they did not feel that he had been provided "ample warning and opportunity for behavioral change."

Pursuant to established procedures, the Board of Trustees was presented with the hearing committee's report. After hearing arguments from University representatives and counsel for Dr. Korf on July 6, 1981, the Trustees agreed with the committee's finding of unethical conduct but refused to accept the committee's disciplinary recommendation of three years probation and directed that the committee's report and recommendations be returned to them for reconsideration. Upon reconsideration, the hearing committee, after a "close re-examination of the statement of ethics in the Faculty Handbook " and because of the realistic unenforceability of some of the proposed conditions of probation, 3 reversed its prior recommendation of probation and recommended that Dr. Korf be discharged from the University. Based upon this recommendation the Trustees terminated Dr. Korf's employment on July 24, 1981.

Dr. Korf initiated this action under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 on May 21, 1982, seeking both legal and equitable relief. The six-count complaint alleged violations of Dr. Korf's constitutional rights to substantive and procedural due process, equal protection, free speech, freedom of association, and privacy, along with state law claims for breach of his employment contract and infliction of emotional distress. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss alleging that: (1) they possessed immunity both under the Eleventh Amendment and the doctrine of qualified immunity; (2) none of Dr. Korf's constitutional rights were violated; and (3) Dr. Korf's employment contract was not breached and his emotional distress claim was insufficient. The motion was accompanied by an affidavit from the President of the Ball State University Board of Trustees delineating the basis for Dr. Korf's termination. Attached to the affidavit was the transcript of the formal hearing and all the exhibits presented. On August 5, 1982, Dr. Korf moved for a continuance to allow him to respond to the defendants' motion to dismiss until after discovery. Alternatively, he moved for an enlargement of time to respond to the defendants' motion. The court granted his alternative motion.

On March 11, 1983 the district court granted defendants summary judgment 4 on Dr. Korf's constitutional and state law claims. 5 The court concluded that Ball State University was an instrumentality of the State of Indiana for the purposes of the Eleventh Amendment and therefore the University, its Board of Trustees and the individual defendants in their official capacities were immune from suit under Sec. 1983. Because the affidavits presented on Dr. Korf's behalf failed to provide any evidence sufficient to create a genuine question whether the individual defendants acted in bad faith, the court also ruled that the defendants were immune from Sec. 1983 liability under the doctrine of qualified or "good faith" immunity.

The main question we must decide is whether or not the district court committed error in granting the defendants' motion for summary judgment. Dr. Korf contends that since there were disputed issues of material fact concerning his substantive due process and equal protection claims, summary judgment was improper. Dr. Korf also argues that even if he has not created genuine issues of material fact regarding these constitutional claims, the trial court erred by failing to grant him sufficient time to conduct the necessary discovery to prove that the University's regulations were applied against him arbitrarily.

II.

Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment shall be granted if the record shows that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." It is clear that the party moving for summary judgment has the burden of establishing that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Egger v. Phillips, 710 F.2d 292, 296 (7th Cir.1983); Rose v. Bridgeport Brass Co., 487 F.2d 804 (7th Cir.1973). "For the purpose of determining whether any material fact remains disputed 'the inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts ... must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion.' " Fitzsimmons v. Best, 528 F.2d 692, 694 (7th Cir.1976) (quoting United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S.Ct. 993, 994, 8...

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