Vogel v. City of Medina, CASE NO.1:17CV272

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
Writing for the CourtJUDGE CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO
PartiesSTEVEN VOGEL, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF MEDINA, ET AL., Defendants.
Docket NumberCASE NO.1:17CV272
Decision Date31 January 2018

STEVEN VOGEL, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF MEDINA, ET AL., Defendants.

CASE NO.1:17CV272

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO EASTERN DIVISION

January 31, 2018


JUDGE CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO

OPINION AND ORDER

CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO, J:

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant City of Medina, Tanesha Morris and Susan Haley's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. (ECF #32). For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.

FACTUAL HISTORY

According to Plaintiff's Complaint, Plaintiff was hired by the City of Medina ("Medina") as a building inspector and was subsequently promoted to interim Chief Building Official in or around February, 2011. (ECF DKT #1, ¶ 11). In or around May 2011, Plaintiff became the full-time Chief Building Official for City of Medina. (Id.). As Chief Building Official, Plaintiff oversaw economic development, including the Building and Planning and

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Zoning Departments. (Id. at ¶ 12). Plaintiff reported directly to Gregory Hannan, who served as the Community Development Director for Medina and Hannan reported directly to Mayor Hanwell. (Id.). Morris and Haley both served in the Building Department and reported directly to Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶ 13,14).

On or about Wednesday, November 13, 2013, Haley complained to Service Director, Nino Piccoli, of alleged instances of inappropriate conduct or sexual harassment by Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶ 34). Haley also called Morris to advise her of her complaints. (Id. at ¶ 35). On November 14, 2013, Gregory Huber, the Law Director for Medina, met with Haley to discuss her allegations against Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶ 36). On or about November 18, 2013, Morris and Haley had separate meetings with Huber to discuss the alleged sexual harassment. (Id. at ¶ 38). At this time, Huber suggested that Morris and Haley prepare their own formal written complaints against Plaintiff. (Id.).

On November 20, 2013, Plaintiff was summoned by Huber to Mayor Hanwell's office to meet with the two of them. (Id. at ¶ 39). At this meeting, Plaintiff was informed of the allegations and placed on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation of the allegations. (Id. at ¶ 40). On November 22, 2013, Morris and Haley provided separate written complaints to Huber detailing the allegations. (Id. at ¶ 45). On November 26, 2013, Plaintiff was notified of the specifics of the allegations and viewed the complaints. (Id. at ¶ 46).

Huber was tasked with conducting an investigation into the allegations in his capacity as Law Director. (Id. at ¶ 47). On or about December 13, 2013, a pre-disciplinary hearing was conducted with Plaintiff by Mayor Hanwell and Huber. (Id. at ¶ 58). Later that day, Huber advised Plaintiff that Mayor Hanwell had decided to terminate Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶ 59).

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On December 16, 2013, Plaintiff met with Huber and Mayor Hanwell wherein Plaintiff was presented with and told to sign his formal termination letter. (Id. at ¶ 60).

LAW AND ANALYSIS

I. Legal Standard

Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states, "[after] the pleadings are closed - but early enough not to delay trial - a party may move for judgment on the pleadings." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c). The court shall consider the complaint, answer and any instruments attached as exhibits in making its determination on a motion for judgment on the pleadings. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c); Fed R. Civ. P. 7(a) (defining "pleadings" to include the complaint and answer); Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(c) (stating written instruments attached as exhibits are part of the pleadings).

When considering a motion for judgment on the pleadings, "all well-pleaded material allegations of the pleadings of the opposing party must be taken as true, and the motion may be granted only if the moving party is nevertheless clearly entitled to judgment." Tucker v. Middleburg-Legacy Place, LLC, 539 F.3d 545, 549 (6th Cir. 2008) (quoting JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Winget, 510 F.3d 577, 581 (6th Cir. 2007)). To survive a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings, "a complaint must contain direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements under some viable legal authority." Waters v. Drake, 105 F.Supp.3d 780 (S.D. Ohio 2015) (quoting Commercial Money Ctr., Inc. v. Ill. Union Ins. Co., 508 F.3d 327, 336 (6th Cir. 2007). "The factual allegations in the complaint need to be sufficient to give notice to the defendant as to what claims are alleged, and the plaintiff must plead 'sufficient factual matter' to render the legal claim plausible." Fritz v. Charter Twp. Of Comstock, 592 F.3d 718, 722 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556

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U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d (2009)). While the complaint need not contain "detailed factual allegations," it must contain more than "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Hensley Mfg. v. Pro-Pride, Inc.m 579 F.3d 603, 609 (6th Cir. 2009 ) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d. 929 (2007)).

II. Plaintiff's 42 U.S.C.S. §1983 Claim Against Medina

Defendants moved to dismiss all claims against them for failure to state a claim. In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Medina violated 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983, depriving him of his rights, privileges and immunities secured by the Constitution of the United States when it terminated his employment with the city. Plaintiff alleges that his discharge was without due process of law pursuant to false allegations of purported sexual harassment.

A. Procedural Due Process

To be successful in a procedural due process claim, Plaintiff must show that he: 1) had a life, liberty, or property interest protected by the Due Process Clause, 2) was deprived of the protected interest and (3) the state 'did not afford him adequate procedural rights." Daily Servs., LLC v. Valentino, 756 F.3d 893, 904 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Women's Med. Prof'l Corp. v. Baird, 438 F.3d 595, 611 (6th Cir. 2006)). For a public employee to be successful...

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