United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON PENDING MOTIONS
Z. SINGAL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is one of three related cases brought by former female
corrections officers against Kennebec County and multiple
employees of Kennebec County alleging various discriminatory
and illegal practices at the Kennebec County Correctional
Facility. While originally brought as one case, Huard v.
Kennebec County et al., D. Me. Docket No.
1:16-cv-00473-GZS, the Court ordered the claims of the three
plaintiffs severed after the close of discovery. Now before
the Court is Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings and for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 11) and
Plaintiff's Motion to File Corrected Pleadings (ECF No.
21). For reasons explained herein, the Court GRANTS
Defendants' Motion and GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART
MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS
the Court turns its attention to Defendants' arguments
for summary judgment, the Court considers two discrete issues
for which Defendants seek judgment on the pleadings in
accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). In
considering these arguments, the Court has reviewed
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (ECF No. 1) and accepted
all of her “well-pleaded factual averments” and
drawn “all reasonable inferences in her favor.”
Feliciano v. Rhode Island, 160 F.3d 780, 788 (1st
Cir. 1998). The Court recognizes at the outset that judgment
on the pleadings may be entered where the complaint fails to
“contain sufficient factual matter to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Grajales v.
Puerto Rico Ports Auth., 682 F.3d 40, 44 (1st Cir. 2012)
(internal citations omitted). Indeed, “[t]o cross the
plausibility threshold a claim does not need to be probable,
but it must give rise to more than a mere possibility of
liability.” Id. at 44-45.
the individual Defendants seek judgment on the Plaintiff's
employment discrimination claims (Counts VII-X) arguing that
there is no individual liability under the respective federal
and state statutes. On this point, the Court agrees with
Defendants. The First Circuit has clearly held that
“there is no individual employee liability under Title
VII.” Fantini v. Salem State Coll., 557 F.3d
22, 30 (1st Cir. 2009).
respect to Maine's companion state statute, the Maine
Human Rights Act (“MHRA”), 5 M.R.S.A. § 4551
et seq., this Court has previously held,
“there is no individual liability under the
MHRA.” Charette v. St. John Valley Soil & Water
Conservation Dist., No. 1:17-CV-35-GZS, 2017 WL 2683951,
at *12 (D. Me. June 20, 2017) (discussing Fuhrmann v.
Staples Office Superstore East, Inc., 58 A.3d 1083 (Me.
2012)). While Plaintiff has cited a 2013 guidance memorandum
from the Maine Human Rights Commission as offering
support for individual liability after Fuhrmann, the
Court does not believe this memo can override the clear case
law that supports judgment as a matter of law in favor of the
individual Defendants named in this case. See, e.g.,
United States ex rel. Worthy v. E. Maine Healthcare
Sys., No. 14-cv-00184-JAW, 2017 WL 211609, at *32 (D.
Me. Jan. 18, 2017) (concluding that “only an employer
can be liable” for employment discrimination and
whistle-blowing retaliation); Fisk v. Mid Coast
Presbyterian Church, No. 16-cv-00490-JDL, 2017 WL
1755950, at *4-5 (D. Me. May 4, 2017). Thus, the Court
concludes that each individual Defendant is entitled to
judgment on the pleadings as to Plaintiff's statutory
employment discrimination claims (Counts VII-X).
Defendants seek judgment on the pleadings as to Count XVI,
which Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint describes as
“criminal liability of Kennebec County, Kennebec County
Sheriff's Office and its Corrections Division, Kennebec
County Correction Facility, Kennebec County Commissioners and
Kennebec County Administrator” and cites 17-A M.R.S.A.
§ 60, a state statute that defines when an organization
may be found guilty of a crime. (First Am. Compl. (ECF No.
1), PageID # 85). As framed, this Count fails to state a
claim upon which Plaintiff could recover any relief in the
context of this civil case. See, e.g., Larrabee
v. Penobscot Frozen Foods, Inc., 486 A.2d 97, 101 (Me.
1984). To the extent that Plaintiff has argued that Count XVI
should be read to state a plausible civil RICO claim, the
Court notes that Plaintiff's RICO claims are captured in
the Court grants Defendants' request for judgment on the
pleadings as to all Defendants on Count XVI and as to the
individually named Defendants on Counts VII-X. The Court next
considers Defendants' request for summary judgment on
Plaintiff's remaining claims.
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
a party is entitled to summary judgment if, on the record
before the Court, it appears “that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
“[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual
dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise
properly supported motion for summary judgment; the
requirement is that there be no genuine issue of
material fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). An issue is
“genuine” if “the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.” Id. at 248. A “material
fact” is one that has “the potential to affect
the outcome of the suit under the applicable law.”
Nereida-Gonzalez v. Tirado-Delgado, 990 F.2d 701,
703 (1st Cir. 1993).
party moving for summary judgment must demonstrate an absence
of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986).
In determining whether this burden is met, the Court must
view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor.
See Santoni v. Potter, 369 F.3d 594, 598 (1st Cir.
the moving party has made this preliminary showing, the
nonmoving party must “produce specific facts, in
suitable evidentiary form, to establish the presence of a
trialworthy issue.” Triangle Trading Co., Inc. v.
Robroy Indus., Inc., 200 F.3d 1, 2 (1st Cir. 1999)
(quotation marks and internal ellipsis omitted); see
also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). “Mere allegations, or
conjecture unsupported in the record, are
insufficient.” Barros-Villahermosa v. United
States, 642 F.3d 56, 58 (1st Cir. 2011) (quoting
Rivera-Marcano v. Normeat Royal Dane Quality A/S,
998 F.2d 34, 37 (1st Cir. 1993)); see also Wilson v.
Moulison N. Corp., 639 F.3d 1, 6 (1st Cir. 2011)
(“A properly supported summary judgment motion cannot
be defeated by conclusory allegations, improbable inferences,
periphrastic circumlocutions, or rank speculation.”).
“As to any essential factual element of its claim on
which the nonmovant would bear the burden of proof at trial,
its failure to come forward with sufficient evidence to
generate a trialworthy issue warrants summary judgment for
the moving party.” In re Ralar Distribs.,
Inc., 4 F.3d 62, 67 (1st Cir. 1993). “However,
summary judgment is improper when the record is sufficiently
open-ended to permit a rational factfinder to resolve a
material factual dispute in favor of either side.”
Morales-Melecio v. United States (Dep't of Health and
Human Servs.), 890 F.3d 361, 368 (1st Cir. 2018)
(quotation marks omitted).
Kennebec County is ultimately overseen by three elected
county commissioners, Patsy Crockett, Nancy Rines, and George
Jabar, each of whom is named as a Defendant in this case in
both their individual and official capacities. The day-to-day
administration of Kennebec County is handled by County
Administrator Bob Devlin and Human Resources Manager Terry
York, both of whom are likewise named as individual
Defendants in this case. The County Commissioners promulgate
and amend the Kennebec County Administrative Regulations,
which serve as the internal policies for the county.
Kennebec County Sheriff's Office operates as a department
within the county government run by an elected Sheriff.
During the time period relevant to this case, Defendant
Randall Liberty was the Kennebec County Sheriff and Defendant
Ryan Reardon served as his Chief Deputy. Within the
Sheriff's Office, there is a Corrections Division that
operates the county jail, also known as the Kennebec County
Correctional Facility (“KCCF”). Various KCCF
employees make up the remainder of the individually named
Defendants in this case, including Marsha Alexander, Laura
Briggs, Calista Campbell, and Dan Cyr. During the time period
relevant to this case, all KCCF employees were required to
follow the rules laid out in the KCCF Policy & Procedures
Manual, which was subject to annual review and revision.
Cheri Caudill was employed at KCCF from March 18, 2013 until
September 17, 2014. Caudill was not a member of the union
during this term of employment and did not otherwise have a
written employment contract with Kennebec
County. She was initially hired as a Clerical
Specialist for the Corrections Division of the Kennebec
County Sheriff's Office. In this position, she served as
one of four mail clerks at the KCCF. The other three mail
clerks were: Jessica Quinn, Darlene Wallace, and Amanda
Morgan. Quinn and Caudill were full-time, and Wallace and
Morgan were part-time employees.
Clerical Specialist, Caudill's immediate supervisor was
Louis Schimke. Schimke chose Quinn to be Caudill's field
training officer because Quinn was the only other full-time
mail clerk and she knew the job duties of the position
Caudill was filing. Despite her role in training Caudill,
Quinn was Caudill's co-worker, not her supervisor.
she began working for Kennebec County, Caudill was invited to
eat lunch with her co-workers, including Quinn. Quinn
maintained friendships with multiple other female employees
at the jail, including a longstanding personal friendship
with Lieutenant Calista Campbell that predated their working
relationship. Campbell and Quinn were also friends with
Captain Marsha Alexander and Sergeant Laura Briggs. Because
of these friendships, other employees viewed all four women
(Alexander, Briggs, Campbell & Quinn) as having
“certain perks” as well as the ability to
influence how the facility was run. (Heavey-Morin Dep. (ECF
No. 13-25), PageID # 398.) According to at least one other
employee, “Marsha Alexander was running the show”
inside the jail during this time period with “limited
supervision.” (Morin Dep. (ECF No. 13-28), PageID #
483.) On several occasions early in Caudill's employment,
Briggs, Quinn and Campbell invited Caudill to accompany them
on off-duty social gatherings and requested that they
exchange cell phone numbers.
November 4, 2013, Caudill began training for the corrections
officer certification. Caudill's same gendered partner,
Heather Roesger, was also enrolled in training for
corrections officer certification during this time. Given
their relationship, Schimke told Caudill and Roesger to make
sure they weren't taking breaks together and they were
keeping everything separate. They were also told that any
time they were training together or working the same shift,
they had to work different floors. Caudill and her partner
complied with these directives.
early November 2013, Campbell asked the Sheriff's Office
of Professional Review (“OPR”) to investigate
whether Caudill may have violated certain rules related to
the handling of inmate mail. Caudill cooperated with this
investigation and answered questions. Ultimately, the
allegations were determined to be “unfounded” and
the OPR investigation was closed. (Pl. Ex. 4 (ECF No. 13-4),
PageID #s 298-303.)
December 2013, about a month into her corrections officer
training, it became known to various employees, including
Quinn, that Caudill was in a relationship with a woman. Prior
to that time, Caudill had heard Jessica Quinn make a comment
that one lesbian couple was going to make gay babies. In the
same timeframe, Caudill heard Quinn make a comment that
another lesbian co-worker adopted a crack baby because she
couldn't have her own. (See Caudill Dep. (ECF
No. 12-9), PageID #s 208-09.) Against this backdrop, Caudill
viewed some of her co-workers as homophobic. Caudill was not
alone in this view, sometime in 2012 or 2013, another lesbian
employee overheard Lieutenant Ryan Reardon say ...