United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, LaFayette Division
JAMES K. SCHENKE, Plaintiff,
MITCH DANIELS, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. Rodovich United States Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the court on the Motion for Summary Judgment
[DE 100], and the Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Designated
Evidence [DE 112] filed by the defendants, Mitch Daniels,
Julie K. Griffith, Trent Klingerman, Brian Zink, and Shelley
Triol, on March 16, 2018 and July 16, 2018. For the following
reasons, the Motion for Summary Judgment [DE 100] is
GRANTED, and the Motion to Strike
Plaintiff's Designated Evidence [DE 112] is
GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
plaintiff, James K. Schenke, has pursued two causes of action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the defendants.
First, he asserts that the Purdue News Service Guidelines
have chilled his right to speak as a private citizen on
matters of public concern in violation of the First
Amendment. Second, he asserts that the defendants deprived
him of his constitutionally-protected right to speak as a
private citizen on matters of public concern, as guaranteed
by the First and Fourteenth Amendments, by requiring prior
approval and by retaliating against him when he spoke on
matters of public concern.
was employed as a Broadcast Media Liaison by Purdue
University's Office of News and Information. As a member
of Purdue's News Service team, he was subject to the News
Service Guidelines Policies and Procedures. The Guidelines
included the following provisions:
In the absence of the vice president for university relations
and the News Service director, members of the News Service
may have occasion to become spokespeople for the university.
Staff members are expected to be familiar with the
University's position when speaking on Purdue-related
issues to the media or public. They should refrain from
publicly expressing personal views on University issues
without written approval from the director and/or vice
president. This includes, but is not limited to, letters to
the editor, media interviews, and public meetings.
In matters that do not relate to Purdue, a member of the News
Service staff must avoid any implication that the opinion he
or she is expressing is also the opinion of the University.
100-5, Ex. E).
the Spring and Summer of 2013, the City of West Lafayette was
attempting to annex certain property along the U.S. 231
corridor. Schenke personally opposed the initial annexation
plan because it included the subdivision where he lived, Wake
Robin Estates. He indicated that “[i]t was quite clear
in the public discourse that annexation was dead on arrival
if Purdue did not allow it to proceed.” (Schenke Dep.,
at 218:4-8). “It was my presumption that [Purdue was]
on board with the annexation by the time I joined the
discourse.” (Schenke Dep., at 218:19-219:1).
spoke out against the annexation by writing newspaper
stories, writing letters to the editor, granting interviews
with reporters, and speaking at a City Council meeting. On
September 9, 2013, Schenke wrote a letter to the editor of
the Purdue Exponent attempting to correct certain
statements made about the annexation opponents. However, he
did not submit the letter to his supervisor first. At the
time Schenke wrote the letter, his stance was contrary to the
University's position on the annexation. Schenke also was
interviewed by a local television station about the noise
from U.S. 231. Schenke was advised by the defendant, Brian
Zink, to conduct himself in strict accordance with the News
November 4, 2013, Schenke notified Zink of his intention to
speak at an upcoming West Lafayette City Council meeting
about the scaled-back annexation plan. At the time of the
City Council meeting, the annexation was focused on the
University and did not include Schenke's neighborhood.
(Zink Decl. ¶ 4). The defendants held a meeting to
discuss the News Service Guidelines with Schenke because the
media was expected to be present at the City Council meeting.
Schenke voluntarily shared his planned remarks. He was
advised of the distinction between speaking for the
University and as a private citizen by the defendant, Trent
Klingerman. (Klingerman Decl. ¶ 3). Additionally, the
defendant, Shelley Triol, advised Schenke of the importance
that he not make comments that could be misconstrued that he
was speaking on behalf of Purdue. (Triol Decl. ¶ 3).
Schenke spoke at the City Council meeting. He later was
approached by a reporter for the Exponent. The
Exponent article quoted Schenke as speaking
negatively about the mayor, John Dennis.
November 11, 2013, Schenke received a written reprimand for
non-compliance with the Guidelines. He filed a grievance on
November 26, 2013, and at the grievance hearing on January 8,
2014, he claimed a misapplication of the Guidelines. The
defendant, Shelley Triol, rescinded the reprimand. Schenke no
longer is employed by Purdue. He was terminated in 2016
following an arrest.
has argued that his media dealings throughout 2013 were not
part of his official duties. Therefore, he was speaking as a
private citizen on a matter of public importance. Thus,
Schenke contends that the defendants burdened his free speech
rights by retaliating against him for exercising his First
Amendment rights when he applied for Purdue's vacant
“Director of Public Information” position. The
defendants denied Schenke an interview for the position.
Schenke learned on September 10, 2013, a day after he sent
his letter to the editor of the Exponent that he had
not been selected for the position.
defendants have moved for summary judgment on this matter.
Schenke filed a response in opposition on June 26, 2018, and
the defendants filed a reply on July 16, 2018. The defendants
also have moved to strike portions of Schenke's
designated evidence. Schenke ...