Electively speaking…

A case  filed in state supreme court but removed to federal court by our office, arose out of a local election where an employee ran against his supervisor for the position of Highway Superintendent.  The deceased plaintiff alleged that, as a result of his decision to run for office, he was assigned menial and retaliatory tasks resulting in violations of his First Amendment rights to free speech and free association as well as a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection.  The claim was brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 seeking a civil remedy for such a violation.  The claim began as a wrongful death case as plaintiff’s estate alleged that one of the retaliatory tasks he was assigned caused him to be injured which eventually lead to his death.  The wrongful death portion of the claim was withdrawn during the course of discovery.

At the conclusion of discovery, our office filed a motion for summary judgment requesting dismissal of the complaint in its entirety on several bases.  Primarily, we argued that the conduct in question did not constitute retaliatory action as plaintiff could not point to any adverse employment decision under the relevant case law.  The allegedly punitive acts claimed were within plaintiff’s job description and our office argued that plaintiff was unable to causally link those assignments to his decision to run for office.  We further argued that plaintiff was not denied any public forum nor was his speech proscribed based upon content or viewpoint.

Three days after we filed our motion for summary judgment, plaintiff withdrew the claim and a stipulation of discontinuance was signed and so ordered by the Judge.