United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT ECF NO. 60
5, 2017, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment or,
in the alternative, summary adjudication in this First
Amendment retaliation action. (ECF NO. 60.) At hearing before
the Court on August 4, 2017, Kevin Little, Esq. appeared for
Plaintiff and Stephanie Wu, Esq. appeared for Defendants.
After oral arguments, the motion was taken under submission.
For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion for
summary judgment or, in the alternative, summary adjudication
Mark Duffy brings this suit against Los Banos Unified School
District (“LBUSD” or “the District”),
Dr. Steve Tietjen, Ryan Hartsoch, Daniel Sutton, and Veli
Gurgen pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging First
Amendment retaliation in connection with his employment as a
High School English teacher in the LBUSD. Plaintiff began
teaching at Los Banos High School in 2006. Defendant Dr.
Steve Tietjen (“Tietjen”) was the Superintendent
of the District from 2007 to July 1, 2016. In August 2012,
Tietjen announced that Daniel Martin, then the Principal of
Los Banos High School, would be reassigned to an
administrative position. On August 9, 2012, a meeting of the
Board of Education of the Los Banos School District
(“the Board”) was convened for the purpose of
public comment on Mr. Martin's reassignment. The meeting
was attended by members of the general public, school
district employees, and students, and was televised on the
local public access channel.
meeting, Plaintiff delivered the following speech:
Good evening, Board. Underneath this beard, I am Mark Duffy.
First of all, I want to start off by telling you that I
respect this Board, and I think you are a great board. What
you do is very difficult. But I'm not here tonight to
talk about Dan Martin. I don't care who the principal of
the school is. It means nothing to me. I welcome working with
Mr. Sutton or whoever Dr. Tietjen signs. You may know, or
most of you may know that 3½ years ago I suffered a
near fatal open heart surgery. I was in a coma for nine days.
I only have 50% capability in my heart. I have to carry pills
with me every day of my life. I'm not supposed to be
here, so I'm a very blessed man. So you can understand
why who the principal of my school is, it doesn't mean
anything to me.
But I'll tell you what means something to me. Truth.
Honesty. Dignity. Integrity. Everybody in this room tonight
knows that they are here at their own peril. Everybody in
this room tonight knows that repercussions and intimidation
are going to hang over their head. Fear has become the
standard operating procedure of this school district.
I want to make a suggestion to you that when this is all said
and done with, because it's all going to be over after
tonight and life goes on. I want to suggest to you that you
take a survey of the people that work in this school
district. Keep it out of the clutches of the district office.
Make it anonymous. That way the storm troopers will not be
coming to knock down your door. I think it will be
interesting to see the fruit that it bears.
I know why everyone walks on eggshells in this district. And
I don't want you to get me wrong, I admire Dr. Tietjen. I
respect him. I admire the way that he attacks people
personally. I admire the way that he hangs your job over your
head if you don't do what he wants you to do. I admire
the way that he encourages neighbor to rat out neighbor. I
mean honestly, folks, he's really good at what he does,
and that's why I admire him.
Now, again, after tonight, nothing matters. I don't care
who the principal is, I can work with anybody. But
there's a bigger picture here that we're not looking
at. And it needs to be looked at. That's where you come
in. Proverbs 11:29 says, woe to the man that reaps trouble
upon his own house for he shall inherit the wind.
I want to remind you, a punk goes after people when they know
they don't have a fair fight. They will bushwhack them.
Mr. Martin's been bushwhacked. I want you to hold the
same low standard that was applied to Mr. Martin to Dr.
Now, the last thing I would like to say is after tonight
everybody in this room knows what's going on, no one can
say “I don't know.” And I want to remind you
that the last time that happened was in Germany when a people
sat by compliantly while the ovens of Auschwitz burned.
(Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. Ex. C, ECF No. 60-4.)
Daniel Sutton (“Sutton”) became Interim Principal
of Los Banos High School from August 2012 through September
2012, and served as Assistant Principal beginning in October
2012. Defendant Ryan Hartsoch (“Hartsoch”) served
as Principal from October 2012 through June 2014. Defendant
Veli Gurgen (“Gurgen”) served as Assistant
Principal beginning in September 2013.
to Plaintiff, after his speech, Defendants engaged in a
pattern of conduct designed to intimidate and harass him, and
retaliated against him by ...