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Pagani v. Meriden Board of Education

December 19, 2006

RICHARD PAGANI PLAINTIFF
v.
MERIDEN BOARD OF EDUCATION, ELIZABETH M. RUOCCO, DAVID H. ROY, JOHN D. LINEEN, AND DAVID H. FRIEDMAN DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Janet C. Hall United States District Judge

RULING RE: DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [Doc. No. 24].

The plaintiff, Richard Pagani, brings this action, pursuant to Sections 1983 and 1988 of Title 42 of the United States Code, against defendants, Meriden Board of Education, Elizabeth M. Ruocco, David H. Roy, John D. Lineen, and David H. Friedman. In his Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 13), Pagani alleges retaliation in violation of his First Amendment rights. Pagani is suing each defendant in his/her individual capacity. This court has federal question jurisdiction over this Section 1983 action pursuant to Section 1331 of Title 28 of the United States Code.

Pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the defendants have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 24). For the following reasons, the defendants' motion is GRANTED.

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

In a motion for summary judgment, the burden is on the moving party to establish that there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 106 S.Ct. 2505 (1986); White v. ABCO Engineering Corp., 221 F.3d 293, 300 (2d Cir. 2000). Once the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party must "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. Further, the non-moving party must present such evidence as would allow a jury to find in his favor in order to defeat the motion. Graham v. Long Island R.R., 230 F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir. 2000).

In assessing the record, the trial court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all inferences in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Graham, 230 F.3d at 38. "This remedy that precludes a trial is properly granted only when no rational finder of fact could find in favor of the non-moving party." Carlton v. Mystic Transp., Inc., 202 F.3d 129, 134 (2d Cir. 2000). "When reasonable persons, applying the proper legal standards, could differ in their responses to the question" raised on the basis of the evidence presented, the question must be left to the jury. Sologub v. City of New York, 202 F.3d 175, 178 (2d Cir. 2000).

II. BACKGROUND*fn1

Pagani is a teacher employed by the Meriden Board of Education. At all times relevant to this complaint, defendant Elizabeth M. Ruocco was the Superintendent of Schools for the City of Meriden; defendant David H. Roy was the Director of Personnel for the Meriden Board of Education; defendant John D. Lineen was the Principal of Lincoln Middle School in Meriden; and defendant Donald H. Friedman was the Assistant Principal of Lincoln Middle School. In September 2002, Pagani was a science teacher and Chair of the Science Department at Lincoln Middle School.

On September 12, 2002, two Lincoln Middle School students approached Pagani, informing him that a substitute science teacher had shared a photograph album memorializing that substitute teacher's trip to Europe. L. R. 56a (1) Stat. ¶ 17.*fn2 Inside the photo album was a picture of him posing nude with two nude females. Id. The two students reported to Pagani that they and a number of other students had viewed this photograph. Id. at ¶ 18.

On September 16, 2002, Pagani, accompanied by Erin Benham, Assistant to the President of the Meriden Federation of Teachers, informed Pagani's supervisor, Lineen, of the incident involving the students and the photograph. L.R. 56a (2) Stat. at ¶ 3. Lineen advised Pagani against reporting the incident to Connecticut Department of Children and Families ("DCF"). Id. at ¶ 5.

On September 18, 2002, after consulting with Dr. Gary Blau, Executive Administrator of DCF, Pagani filed a verbal complaint with DCF. Id. at ¶ 7. On September 19, 2002, Pagani claims that Lineen came to Pagani's classroom and instructed him to promptly report to Ruocco's office. Id. at ¶ 10.

At the September 19, 2002, meeting with Ruocco, Pagani was informed that he was reassigned to the position of permanent substitute at Maloney High School, effective September 20, 2002. L. R. 56a (1) Stat. ¶ 27. Subsequently, Ruocco began termination proceedings against Pagani. Id. at Ex. N. Pagani filed a grievance contesting his transfer. Id. at ¶ 30.

On October 1, 2002, Pagani followed up his September 18, 2002 oral report to DCF with a written report detailing the incident of the photograph and the students. Id. at Ex. P. Subsequently, within a month of Pagani's transfer to Maloney High School, he was reassigned from the position of permanent substitute to that of supervisor of in-school suspension students in a basement classroom. L.R. 56a (2) Stat. at ¶ 11.

After three failed grievance proceedings, Pagani pursued arbitration. L. R. 56a (1) Stat. ΒΆ 31. On August 20, 2003, Pagani agreed to withdraw his grievances and waive his right to appeal the arbitration as a condition of his reinstatement as a ...


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