United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ORDER ON DEFENDANT TOWN OF WEST TERRE HAUTE'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
J. McKINNEY, JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Town of West Terre
Haute's (“West Terre Haute”) Motion for
Summary Judgment on the claims brought against it by
Plaintiff Jonathan Stevens. Dkt. 35. Stevens alleges that
West Terre Haute discriminated against him when it chose not
to hire him because of his race in violation of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq.
reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES
Defendant West Terre Haute's Motion for Summary Judgment.
Stevens was employed as an unpaid reserve police officer for
the West Terre Haute Police Department
(“Department”) between September 2013 and March
2014. Complaint, Dkt. 1, ¶ 4. During that time, Stevens
twice applied to be a full-time, paid police officer, but was
not chosen. Id. Stevens, the only African-American
working at the Department, alleges that this was due to his
race. Id., ¶¶ 4-6. Ian Redman and Ryan
Martin, both Caucasians, received the full-time positions
ahead of Stevens. Dkt. 37-1, Lark Dep 26:8-12; Dkt. 36-2,
Melton Dep. 52:14-18. Stevens was eventually hired as a paid
merit officer based on a recommendation by Chief Scott Melton
and unanimous approval from the West Terre Haute Town Council
(the “Council”). Dkt. 36-4, McClain Dep. 48:9-13.
Lark was the Chief of Police for West Terre Haute from
September 2010 through November 2013. Lark Dep. 5:18-6:2.
Lark testified that the police chief used to have the final
say in the hiring of police officers. Id. at
15:4-12. Lark stated that this all changed following the
hiring of African-American reserve officer Herman Moothery.
Id. at 14:5-15:18. Scott McClain, who served on the
Council, approached Lark about the hiring of Moothery and
stated that he received numerous phone calls from people in
town with concerns about having a “n****r” on the
police force. Id. at 15:14-16:6. McClain asked Lark,
“When did we hire a n****r[?]” Id. at
16:11-14. Lark, who had developed a friendship with McClain,
indicated that McClain was racist and disliked
African-Americans. Id. at 16:16-22; 18:11-13;
19:19-21; 20:2-7. Following Lark's appointment as chief,
Moothery was terminated for medical reasons. Id. at
the hiring of Stevens' reserve class, McClain expressed
concern that he was not notified of the class's hiring.
Id. at 22:6-12. Subsequently, the Council would not
allow the Department to hire any reserve officers until the
Council met each individual in person. Id. at
Lark's tenure, he only hired one merit officer, Ian
Redman. Id. at 26:8-15. Lark's hiring decision
came down to Stevens or Redman. Id. at 30:6-14. Lark
believed that Stevens' experience as a paramedic made him
a better candidate than Redman. Id. at 39:22-40:5.
Lark had a discussion over the potential applicants with
Assistant Chief Scott Melton and Council members McClain and
Sheila Boatman. Id. at 30:22-32:18. McClain told
Lark, “Before we go any further, I want to tell you
right now, don't even think about hiring Jonathan
Stevens. We will not consider it.” Id. at
31:6-10. When Lark asked why they could not hire Stevens,
Boatman stated that “[h]is kind does not belong in this
town.” Id. at 31:17-18. McClain then stated
that “[Stevens] does not belong here.”
Id. at 31:20. McClain refused to discuss hiring
Stevens and inquired as to other candidates, at which point
Lark indicated his second choice would be Ian Redmond.
Id. at 32:3-11. McClain decided that they needed to
reopen the application process, which they did. Id.
couple weeks later, Lark and Melton called McClain and
Boatman to discuss the hiring process. Id. at
33:1-9. Lark did not believe that any of the new applicants
were as qualified as those already submitted. Id. at
33:10-14. At this point, McClain stated that they would
simply not hire anyone. Id. at 33:15-19. Boatman
indicated that she had a candidate in mind, and Melton told
her that she should have the individual put in an
application. Id. at 33:21-25.
stated that McClain and Boatman thought the line had
disconnected, but he and Melton stayed on the phone and heard
a private conversation between McClain and Boatman.
Id. at 34:2-12. At that point, Boatman stated,
“No f*****g way in hell are we hiring Jonathan
Stevens.” Id. at 34:13-14. McClain responded,
“No way, not going to happen.” Id. at
after the phone conversation, West Terre Haute experienced a
flood. Id. at 37:12-18. Lark called McClain and told
him that they were “running crazy trying to help people
around here.” Id. at 38:9. McClain responded,
“Go ahead and get ahold of Ian Redman. Get him on the
books … Tell him to come in and fill out the paperwork
so we can get somebody on the shift and move past this whole
thing.” Id. at 38:11-15. Lark asked if McClain
was telling him that he had to hire Ian Redman for the
position and McClain responded, “Yes, hire Ian
Redman.” Id. at 38:19-21. When Lark asked if
he had any other choice, McClain replied, “Not if you
want to fill that position.” Id. at 38:22-23.
Immediately after that conversation took place, Lark called
Redman to offer him the position; Redman accepted.
Id. at 38:25-39:8.
September 5, 2013, Lark submitted a memorandum on
Redman's behalf, which stated that “Assistant Chief
Melton and I are in agreement that the person who would make
the best hire is Reserve Officer Ian Redman. Officer Redman
has been with the Town of West Terre Haute Police Department
for over two years and has a stellar record and unquestioned
work ethic.” Dkt. 36-1. It went on to state that Redman
“has shown a consistent willingness to go above and
beyond the course of normal duty by constantly donating
numerous hours of his time to serve the citizens of this town
… and has always conducted himself in a professional