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Cerny-Deahl v. Launderville

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division

July 21, 2015

SANDRA CERNY-DEAHL, Plaintiff,
v.
KEVIN LAUNDERVILLE and CITY OF HUDSON, IOWA, Defendants.

ORDER

LINDA R. READE, Chief District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

The matter before the court is Defendants Kevin Launderville and City of Hudson, Iowa's ("the City") (collectively, "Defendants") "Motion for Summary Judgment" ("Motion") (docket no. 22).

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On February 17, 2014, Plaintiff Sandra Cerny-Deahl filed a Petition in the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County (docket no. 3), alleging violations of her state and federal constitutional rights, libel and slander. On February 26, 2014, Defendants removed the case to this court. See Notice of Removal (docket no. 2). On March 21, 2014, Defendants filed an Answer (docket no. 5). On July 22, 2014, Cerny-Deahl filed an Amended Complaint ("Complaint") (docket no. 8-1). In the Complaint, Cerny-Deahl alleges violations of due process based on property interest (Count I) against the City, based on liberty interest (Count II) against Defendants and also alleges libel and slander (Count III) against Launderville. On November 7, 2014, Defendants filed an Amended Answer (docket 12). On April 16, 2015, Defendants filed the Motion. On May 11, 2015, Cerny-Deahl filed a Resistance (docket no. 25). On May 21, 2015, Defendants filed a Reply (docket no. 21). The Motion is fully submitted and ready for decision.

III. SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION

The court has federal question jurisdiction over the claims asserted in Counts I and II. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."). The court also has supplemental jurisdiction over the claims asserted in Count III. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367 ("Except as [otherwise] provided..., in any civil action of which the district courts have original jurisdiction, the district courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution.").

IV. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that it could cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party; a fact is material if its resolution affects the outcome of the case." Amini v. City of Minneapolis, 643 F.3d 1068, 1074 (8th Cir. 2011) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 252 (1986)), cert. denied, 132 S.Ct. 1144 (2012). "[S]elf-serving allegations and denials are insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact." Anuforo v. Comm'r, 614 F.3d 799, 807 (8th Cir. 2010).

"To survive a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must substantiate [its] allegations with sufficient probative evidence [that] would permit a finding in [its] favor based on more than mere speculation, conjecture, or fantasy." Barber v. C1 Truck Driver Training, LLC, 656 F.3d 782, 801 (8th Cir. 2011) (second alteration in original) (quoting Putman v. Unity Health Sys., 348 F.3d 732, 733-34 (8th Cir. 2003)) (internal quotation marks omitted). The court must view the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and afford it all reasonable inferences. See Schmidt v. Des Moines Pub. Sch., 655 F.3d 811, 819 (8th Cir. 2011). The non-moving party "has the obligation to come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." B.M. ex rel. Miller v. S. Callaway R-II Sch. Dist., 732 F.3d 882, 886 (8th Cir. 2013) (quoting Atkinson v. City of Mountain View, 709 F.3d 1201, 1207 (8th Cir. 2013)) (internal quotation marks omitted). "A complete failure by the non-moving party to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case... necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.'" Id. (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986)) (alteration in original).

V. RESISTANCE MATERIALS

Defendants argue that the materials Cerny-Deahl filed in support of the Resistance violate the court's Local Rules and are therefore improper. Specifically, Defendants argue that Cerny-Deahl violated the court's local rules on summary judgment when responding to Defendant's Statement of Material Facts (docket no. 22-2).

First, the court finds that Cerny-Deahl violated Local Rule 56.b.2 by failing to submit "[a] response to the statement of material facts in which the resisting party expressly admits, denies, or qualifies each of the moving party's numbered statements of fact, filed as an electronic attachment to the brief under the same docket entry." L.R. 56.b.2. "The failure to respond, with appropriate citations to the appendix, to an individual statement of material fact constitutes an admission of that fact." L.R. 56.b. Accordingly, the court shall deem Defendants' Statement of Material Facts admitted in considering this Motion.

Furthermore, the court finds that Cerny-Deahl violated Local Rule 56.b by submitting a statement of additional material facts that is not numbered separately. See L.R. 56.b ("Each individual statement of additional material fact must be concise, numbered separately, and supported by references to those specific pages, paragraphs, or parts of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, exhibits, and affidavits that support the statement, with citations to the appendix containing that part of the record."). Nevertheless, the court will consider Cerny-Deahl's Statement of Material Facts despite her failure to comply with the Local Rules.

VI. RELEVANT FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Cerny-Deahl and affording her all reasonable inferences, the uncontested material facts are as follows.

A. Parties

Cerny-Deahl is a resident of Iowa. She was employed as the city clerk for the City of Hudson, Iowa during the relevant time period until April 22, 2013. Launderville was the mayor of the City during the relevant time period and is a resident of Iowa. The City is a municipal corporation of the state of Iowa and is located in Black Hawk County. Cerny-Deahl alleges that Launderville and the City were acting under color of state law at all times relevant to the instant action.

B. Overview of the Dispute

On January 14, 2013, the city council voted on whether to reappoint Cerny-Deahl as the city clerk for the City. The vote failed without any formal discussion and Cerny-Deahl was not reappointed. However, Cerny-Deahl continued to work for the City as a "holdover clerk." On February 25, 2013, the city council passed Resolution No. 1588, which approved the job description for the position of city clerk and identified a salary range of $35, 000 to $55, 000.[1] The Resolution stated, in part:

This job description and salary range are identified to correlate to the hiring of a City Clerk for the 2013 term. It is clarified that the actual salary for the Clerk for the 2013 term, when appointed, would have to be approved at the time of the appointment. This resolution would not affect the 2012 term and holdover.

Defendant's Appendix ("App'x") (docket no. 22-3) at 24. Also on February 25, 2013, the city council reappointed Cerny-Deahl as the city clerk following discussion by city council members. The resolution passed by the city council states:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED, that the Hudson City Council approve Sandie Deahl to be re-appointed as City Clerk.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Mayor of the City of Hudson is authorized and directed to execute the documents required to effectuate this Resolution.

Resolution No.1589, Defendant's App'x at 13. Following the February 25, 2013 city council meeting, Cerny-Deahl prepared a resolution for Launderville to sign. The resolution states:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED, that the Hudson City Council approve Sandie Deahl to be re-appointed as City Clerk. Per Mayor Launderville: Effective July 1, 2013 wage reduction to $55, 000 exempt salary as identified with fiscal year 2013 budget.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Mayor of the City of Hudson is authorized and directed to execute the documents required ...

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