United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
T. MOODY JUDGE
matter is before the court on defendant Adrian Santos'
motion for summary judgment (DE # 46), and plaintiff Randall
Artis' motion for voluntary dismissal of Count V of his
amended complaint (DE # 40). For the reasons identified
below, Santos' motion will be granted in part and denied
in part, and Artis' motion will be granted.
present dispute arises from Artis' termination from his
employment with the City of East Chicago Clerk's Office.
The following facts are undisputed for purposes of resolving
the pending motion for summary judgment.
2005, Artis pleaded guilty to a federal felony charge related
to his theft of funds from the City of East Chicago
(“the City”) during his tenure as a councilman
for the City. (DE # 48-1 at 5-12; DE # 48-2.) Several years
later, in the fall of 2014, Santos asked Artis to help him
campaign in his bid to be elected Clerk for the City. (DE #
54-3 at 40, 44.) Artis obliged. (Id.) Santos won the
election, and took office in January 2016. (DE # 48-8 at 5.)
in August 2015, the then-City Clerk Mary Morris Leonard had
hired Artis as a junior clerk in the Clerk's Office. (DE
# 48-3 at 6-7; DE # 54-3 at 29, 38.) In addition to his
clerical duties, Artis was responsible for handling money,
such as for the posting of bond. (DE # 48-1 at 15.)
December 2015, in anticipation of his entry into office as
Clerk, Santos sought advice from the City's human
resources consultant about administering background checks
for all Clerk's Office employees. (DE # 48-9 at 5.)
Santos wanted to administer background checks as part of his
implementation of new professionalism standards.
(Id.) Santos also wanted to obtain insurance
coverage for the Clerk's Office. (Id.) At the
time, the City was insured under a crime policy with Braman
Insurance Services (“the Crime Policy”). (DE #
48-8 at 7-8; DE # 48-12.) The Crime Policy excluded coverage
for a loss caused by an employee if the employee had
previously committed a theft or other dishonest act. (DE #
48-8 at 7-8.) Santos testified that he believed that the
Crime Policy would not cover an employee previously convicted
of a felony if there was a subsequent claim related to that
employee. (Id. at 11.)
second week of January 2016, shortly after taking office,
Santos asked Artis to support County Commissioner Mike Repay
in his upcoming May 2016 bid for reelection. (DE # 48-1 at
24.) Santos also asked Artis to support Marissa McDermott in
her campaign for Lake County Circuit Court Judge.
(Id. at 26.) Specifically, Santos asked Artis to
take Repay and McDermott through the West Calumet Complex to
secure voter support from the community there. (Id.
at 27-30.) Artis told Santos that he did not have time to
help campaign for Repay and McDermott. (Id. at
27-29.) A few days later, Santos repeated his request and
Artis again refused. (Id. at 30.)
weeks later, on February 1, 2016, Santos terminated Artis.
(DE # 48-13.) Santos told Artis that he was terminating his
employment in light of his previous felony conviction. (DE #
54-3 at 69-71.) Santos also provided Artis with two
termination letters, dated February 1, 2016, and February 4,
2016. (DE # 48-13.) The February 1, 2016, letter stated that
Santos terminated Artis' employment based on his previous
felony conviction. (Id. at 1.) The February 4, 2016,
letter provided additional detail and stated that Santos had
adopted new professionalism standards for the Clerk's
Office, and now, as a condition of continued employment, all
employees must meet the requirements for bonding.
(Id. at 2.) Santos' letter informed Artis that,
in light of his previous felony conviction, he did not meet
the requirements for bonding and thus was terminated.
amended complaint, Artis alleges that Santos is liable
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violating his
constitutional rights. (DE # 20.) In Count I, Artis claims
that Santos violated his right to procedural and substantive
due process. (Id. at 6.) In Count II, Artis claims
that Santos retaliated against him in violation of his First
Amendment right to free speech. (Id. at 9.)
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 requires the entry of summary
judgment, after an adequate time for discovery, against a
party “who fails to make a showing sufficient to
establish the existence of an element essential to that
party's case, and on which that party will bear the
burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In responding to a
motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party must
identify specific facts establishing that there is a genuine
issue of fact for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986); Palmer, 327
F.3d at 595. In doing so, the non-moving party cannot rest on
the pleadings alone, but must present proof in support of its
position. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A dispute about
a material fact is genuine only “if the evidence is
such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Id. If no reasonable jury
could find for the non-moving party, then there is no
“genuine” dispute. Scott v. Harris, 550
U.S. 372, 380 (2007).
court's role in deciding a summary judgment motion is not
to evaluate the truth of the matter, but instead to determine
whether there is a genuine issue of triable fact.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50; Doe v. R.R.
Donnelley & Sons Co., 42 F.3d 439, 443 (7th Cir.
1994). In viewing the facts presented on a motion for summary
judgment, a court must construe all facts in a light most
favorable to the non-moving party and draw all legitimate