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Carroll v. Knox County Board of Education

September 17, 2008

MARY H. CARROLL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
KNOX COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION AND ROY E. MULLINS, SUPERINTENDENT FOR KNOX COUNTY SCHOOLS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas W. Phillips United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter is before the court on plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction [Doc. 11] and defendants' Motion to Strike Portions of Plaintiff's Affidavit ("Motion to Strike") [Doc. 15]. Plaintiff moves this court to issue a preliminary injunction requiring defendants to reinstate plaintiff immediately to her position as Supervisor of Psychological Services, with full salary and benefits and documentation in her personnel file indicating the rescission of her alleged demotion. Among the materials supporting her motion, plaintiff filed an affidavit, portions of which defendants now move to strike. For the reasons that follow, plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction [Doc. 11] is denied and defendants' Motion to Strike [Doc. 15] is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff has been employed by defendants for thirty-six years, thirty-two of those years as a Supervisor of Psychological Duties. On March 1, 2007, plaintiff met with defendant Roy E. Mullins, Superintendent of Knox County Schools; Kathy Sims, Director of Human Resources for Knox County Schools; and Donna Wright, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction for Knox County Schools. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss certain allegations made against plaintiff by her subordinate employees. At this meeting, plaintiff was placed on administrative leave with pay and advised that an investigation would occur.

On or about April 19, 2007, defendant Mullins met with plaintiff. Plaintiff contends at this time defendant Mullins "stated that he had concluded that Plaintiff had created a hostile work environment for employees." [Compl, Doc. 1 at 3]. Defendants, however, simply contend that at this time "[t]he investigation into the allegations had not been completed." [Doc. 14 at 1].

On or about May 3, 2007, plaintiff, her husband, and her counsel at the time, Donelson Leake, met with the Director of Human Resources and legal counsel for the school system to review redacted responses from plaintiff's subordinate employees compiled during the investigation.

On or about June 4, 2007, plaintiff, her husband, and Mr. Leake met with defendant Mullins, Ms. Sims, Ms. Wright, and legal counsel for the school system. Defendants argue the purpose of this meeting was to afford plaintiff an opportunity to "tell her side of the story." Plaintiff, however, contends that she was merely given vague answers as to "when she would be allowed to defend herself" and was "[a]t every attempt ... denied her right to defend herself and to have a hearing regarding this demotion." [Doc. 19 at 2].

On or about June 22, 2007, plaintiff received a letter from defendant Mullins that she was reassigned to the position of a School Psychologist for the school year 2007-2008. Apparently for the 2007-2008 school year plaintiff's salary was the same as when she was a supervisor [Doc. 14 at 2]; the letter informed plaintiff that beginning with the 2008-2009 school year she would receive a reduction in salary [Compl., Doc. 1 at 4].

On September 10, 2007, plaintiff initiated this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Tennessee law, seeking a declaratory judgment that her demotion be set aside immediately and that she be reinstated to her position as Supervisor of Psychological Services with full salary and benefits and with appropriate reflections in her personnel file. Plaintiff now moves for the entry of a preliminary injunction, essentially requesting such full reinstatement of her position during the pendency of this litigation.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Preliminary Injunction

"A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy which should be granted only if the movant carries his or her burden of proving that the circumstances clearly demand it." Overstreet v. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Gov't, 305 F.3d 566, 573 (6th Cir. 2002). In considering whether to grant a preliminary injunction, a court must balance four factors: (1) plaintiff's likelihood of success on the merits, (2) whether the plaintiff will suffer irreparable harm without the issuance of the injunction, (3) whether granting the injunction will cause substantial harm to others, and (4) whether the injunction will serve the public interest. E.g., id..; Hamilton's Bogarts, Inc. v. Michigan, 501 F.3d 644, 649 (6th Cir. 2007); Abney v. Amgen, Inc., 443 F.3d 540, 546 (6th Cir. 2006). Although "a finding of no likelihood of success 'is usually fatal,' " Abney, 443. F.3d at 547 (quoting Gonzales v. Nat'l Bd. of Med. Exam'rs, 225 F.3d 620, 625 (6th Cir. 2000)), the court must analyze all of the factors. Id.

1. Likelihood of Success on the Merits

Plaintiff brought her action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Tennessee state law. To state a claim under § 1983, plaintiff must demonstrate "(1) that defendant was acting under color of state law, and (2) the offending conduct deprived the plaintiff of rights secured under federal law." Mezibov v. Allen, 411 F.3d 712, 716 (6th Cir. 2005). There is apparently no dispute that defendants' actions were under the color of state law. The pertinent issue is with regard to the ...


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