January 18, 2018
from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Indiana, New Albany Division. No.
4:14-cv-00077-RLY-TAB - Richard L. Young, Judge.
Sykes and Hamilton, Circuit Judges, and Lee, District Judge.
appellant, Doug Taylor, claims that the Board of Public Works
and Safety of the City of Lawrenceburg ("the
Board") terminated his employment with the City because
of his disagreements with the Mayor and exposure of purported
wrongdoing by City officials. Seeking redress, Taylor filed
suit against the City, members of the Board, and several City
officials, bringing a claim of First Amendment retaliation
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Taylor also asserted state
law claims of defamation, violation of free-speech rights
under the Indiana constitution, and violation of
Indiana's whistleblower statute. The district court
entered summary judgment in the City's favor as to
Taylor's claims. We affirm.
Taylor is a former police officer of the City of
Lawrenceburg, Indiana. He also held positions with the
City's civil-city, parks, and electric departments.
Taylor ran for a position on Lawrenceburg's City Council
and, in April 2011, improperly appeared in police uniform at
an event for his campaign. Taylor also inaccurately
represented on his police time sheet that he was on duty
during the campaign event. The Indiana State Police
investigated this conduct, resulting in the filing in October
2011 of criminal charges against Taylor for Official
Misconduct and Ghost Employment. Taylor won election to the
City Council in November 2011.
Board placed Taylor on administrative leave with pay shortly
after the criminal charges were filed. It later moved him to
a front-desk position within the police department in January
March 13, 2013, Taylor signed a deferred prosecution
agreement admitting to the criminal charges and agreeing to
resign from the City Council. The next day, he distributed to
local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies an eleven-
page letter accusing the Board and various City officials,
including Mayor Dennis Carr, of corruption and criminal
later, the Board notified Taylor of its intent to terminate
his employment as a police officer (as well as with "any
other department of the City") and informed him of his
right to a hearing pursuant to Indiana Code §
36-8-3-4(c). Taylor requested a hearing.
to the hearing, the Board adopted a rule that its decision
would be determined by a simple majority vote of the Board
members who were present during the presentation of evidence
and argument. Five members, including the Mayor, were present
to hear the evidence and arguments at Taylor's hearing.
After considering the evidence, the Board voted 2 to 1 to
terminate Taylor's employment. The Mayor, who votes only
in the event of a tie, did not vote, and one other member of
the Board abstained. Taylor's employment was terminated,
and he stopped receiving paychecks from the City.
Board subsequently issued its findings of fact and law
pursuant to § 36-8-3-4(i). In its findings, the Board
credited a local prosecutor's testimony that he would not
accept case-related information from a police officer, like
Taylor, who had admitted to a crime of dishonesty. The Board
also rejected Taylor's contention that the Board members
were biased against him.
addition, the Board rebuffed Taylor's suggestion that the
termination proceedings were initiated in response to his
March 14, 2013, letter accusing Board members and others of
wrongdoing. The Board found "no causal connection"
be- tween the termination proceedings and the letter and
explained that it had waited for the resolution of
Taylor's criminal charges before issuing the notice of
to § 36-8-3-4(e), Taylor had the right to appeal the
Board's decision to "the circuit or superior court
of the county in which [the Board was] located/' within
thirty days, § 36-8-3-4(f), after which the Board's
decision would become "final and conclusive/' §
36-8-3-4(g). Taylor timely appealed the Board's decision
to the Dearborn County Superior Court on ...