United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment
filed by Defendants James Shanahan in his individual capacity
(“Dean Shanahan”); Lauren K. Robel, individually
and in her official capacity as Provost of Indiana
University, Bloomington (“Provost Robel”); and
SAA Board of Review Members One, Two, Three, Four, Five, and
Six in their individual capacities (“SAA Board
Members”) (collectively, the “Defendants”)
(Filing No. 41). Plaintiff Peter Calautti
(“Calautti”) brought this action alleging
violation of his First Amendment right to free speech and
Fourteenth Amendment due process rights, pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Calautti did not file a response to the
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons
stated below, the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
motion for summary judgment asks that the court find that a
trial based on the uncontroverted and admissible evidence
would-as a matter of law-conclude in the moving party's
favor and is thus unnecessary. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(c). When evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the
court must give the non-moving party the benefit of all
reasonable inferences from the evidence submitted and resolve
“any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for
trial … against the moving party.” Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 n. 2 (1986).
Nevertheless, “the Court's favor toward the
non-moving party does not extend to drawing inferences that
are supported by only speculation or conjecture.”
Singer v. Raemisch, 593 F.3d 529, 533 (7th Cir.
2010). The non-moving party must set forth specific facts
showing that there is a material issue for trial.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Celotex, 477 U.S. 317. The key
inquiry is the existence of evidence to support a
plaintiff's claims or defendant's affirmative
defenses, not the weight or credibility of that evidence,
both of which are assessments reserved to the trier of fact.
See Schacht v. Wis. Dep't of Corr., 175 F.3d
497, 504 (7th Cir. 1999).
party offers no response to a motion for summary judgment,
the Court will treat the moving party's supported factual
assertions as uncontested. Ind. S.D. L.R. 56-1(b); Smith
v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003). The entry of
summary judgment is not automatic, however, and may only be
granted when the undisputed facts lead to judgment as a
matter of law. O'Brien v. Moores, 784 F.Supp.2d
1054, 1055 (S.D. Ind. 2011).
Calautti did not respond to the Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment, the Court must treat Defendants'
supported factual assertions as uncontested.
Calautti's Position at IU and His Facebook
fall of 2015, Calautti enrolled as a Ph.D. student in the
inaugural class at Indiana University's
(“IU”) Media School. (Filing No. 43-1 at 4.)
During his time, he was also was employed as a student
academic appointee (“SAA”). Id. at 5-6.
SAAs work either as teaching assistants or research
assistants for professors. Id. at 5. During the
2015-2016 academic year, Calautti was a teaching assistant in
two separate courses. Id. As an SAA, Calautti
received a tuition waiver, a stipend, and health insurance
20, 2016, Mohammed Bagha (“Bagha”), a person not
affiliated with IU, sent an e-mail addressed to James
Shanahan, the Dean of IU's Media School, “to
discuss and express concerns” about Calautti. (Filing
No. 43-2; Filing No. 43-3.) Bagha wrote that “Calautti
has repeatedly expressed racist views & threatened
violence against myself, my family (including my children),
and others on social media.” (Filing No. 43-3.) The
e-mail included multiple screenshots which depicted racist
and threatening statements allegedly made by Calautti on
social media. Id. One screenshot showed that
Calautti had posted the following message to Bagha on
Don't forget about forcing you to watch as I beat your
shitskin children into being wheelchair bound, brain damaged,
PS - You still live in a small town and you and your kin have
a rather unusual last name. Watch out.
Id. at 2. Calautti originally denied posting the
message during IU's investigation, but later admitted
that he authored the Facebook message during a deposition
conducted for this litigation. (Filing No. 43-1 at 6-7.)
Calautti did not accept or deny responsibility for other
offensive posts he was shown that appeared to have been
posted by his Facebook account, saying he did not recall
whether he had posted them or that the screenshots
“could have easily been altered.” Id. at
received Bagha's e-mail, Dean Shanahan immediately
notified Chief Laury Flint of the Indiana University Police
Department (“IUPD”) and asked her thoughts on how
he should proceed. (Filing No. 43-2 at 2; Filing No. 43-4.)
Chief Flint responded that Calautti had “crossed the
line from expression to intimidation” and that IUPD
wanted to take a report from Bagha. (Filing No. 43-5.) Dean
Shanahan relayed that information to Bagha and provided him
with IUPD's contact information, but Bagha did not come
forward to make a police report. (Filing No. 43-6.)
Therefore, IUPD was never able to pursue criminal charges
against Calautti. (Filing No. 43-7.)
25, 2016, Dr. Andrew Weaver, the Director of Graduate Studies
for the Media School, forwarded Bagha's email to Carol
McCord, who was IU's Associate Dean of Students and Title
IX Deputy Coordinator at the time. (Filing No. 43-8 at 1-2;
Filing No. 43-9.) After receiving that email, IU's Office
of Student Ethics (“OSE”) initiated an internal
investigation into Calautti's Facebook post. (Filing No.
43-2 at 2; Filing No. 43-8 at 2.) On August 11, 2016, Dr.
Weaver emailed Calautti to notify him that his SAA position
for the fall semester “likely will be with a specific
faculty member rather than a teaching assignment” and
informed him that he would have more details soon. (Filing
No. 43-8 at 2; Filing No. 43-10.) In the same email, Dr.
Weaver wrote, “On a somewhat related note, some
potentially problematic information coming from a social
media account of yours has come to the attention of the Dean
of Students office.” Id. The email notified
Calautti that the Dean of Students Office would like to meet
with him and Dr. Weaver. Id.
beginning of academic year 2016-17, Calautti was assigned to
a research position with Dr. Stephanie De Boer, an associate
professor in the Media School. (Filing No. 43-8 at 2; Filing
No. 43-11.) The Deans at the Media School chose to place
Calautti in a research position as opposed to a teaching
position while the investigation of Calautti's Facebook
post was pending because they were concerned that he posed a
risk to student safety. (Filing No. 43-8 at 2.) On August 22,
2016, Calautti signed an Application and Agreement for
Student Academic Appointee (“Agreement”)
accepting a SAA position for the 2016-17 academic year.
(Filing No. 43-12.) The Agreement stated that IU made no
commitment to reappoint Calautti after academic year 2016-17.
The Office of Student Ethics Conduct
August 18, 2016, Elizabeth Spotts (“Spotts”), who
was serving as the Interim Director of the OSE, sent Calautti
a letter explaining that he was being charged with three
violations of the Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities,
and Conduct and the Apartment/Residence Halls Rules and
Regulations. (Filing No. 43-13.) The letter set forth the
allegations against Calautti and notified him that a conduct
hearing would take place on August 23, 2016. Id.
Calautti requested more time to prepare for the hearing,
which the OSE granted. (Filing No. 43-1 at 9-10.) Calautti
requested the opportunity to review the contents of the
OSE's case file prior to the conduct hearing, and that
request was granted. Id.
conduct hearing occurred on September 1, 2016. (Filing
No. 43-14.) During the hearing, Calautti called a
witness, an acquaintance he met on the internet who appeared
via videoconference. Id. Calautti admitted that he
was responsible for the comments charged to him but that he
made the comments in response to inflammatory comments made
by Bagha. Id. Calautti mainly defended his actions
and comments but did eventually express ...