United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER, [Resolving ECF, 27
Y. Pearson United States District Judge.
is Defendant Trumbull County Sheriff Thomas Altiere's
Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 27) in this
§ 1983 employment case. The Court has been advised,
having reviewed the record, the parties' briefs, and the
applicable law. For the reasons set forth below, the motion
Stipulated Facts and Background
stipulated facts are as follows:
1. Plaintiff Michael Geer was hired by the Trumbull County
Sheriff's Office as a full-time Deputy Sheriff in 2004.
2. Plaintiff served six years as a corrections officer in the
Trumbull County Jail upon his full-time hiring.
3. On May 3, 2010, Plaintiff was reassigned to work security
for the Trumbull County Sheriff's Office at the
Department of Job and Family Services (“DJFS”).
4. Plaintiff was assigned to day shift security at the DJFS.
5. Plaintiff's Facebook posting is marked as Joint
Exhibit #1 (ECF No. 32-1). It reads as follows:
6. Joint Exhibit #2 (ECF No. 32-2) is the Notice of
Proposed Discipline served on Plaintiff and Plaintiff's
appeal of the proposed discipline pursuant to the terms of
the Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA).
7. Joint Exhibit #3 (ECF No. 32-3) is the Step II
Finding of Major Tom Stewart after conducting the Step II
Hearing pursuant to the CBA.
8. Joint Exhibit #4 (ECF No. 32-4) is the agreement
reached between Plaintiff and Defendant concerning his
discipline surrounding Plaintiff's Facebook post.
April 2015 there was an incident between members of the
Baltimore Police Department and Freddie Gray which,
unfortunately, resulted in Mr. Gray's death. Deposition
of Plaintiff (ECF No. 25) at PageID #: 158;
Deposition of Defendant (ECF No. 26) at PageID #:
287-89; Deposition of Major Harold Firster (ECF No.
30) at PageID #: 528, Page 13. At the time Plaintiff
posted on Facebook, the nation was embroiled in media
attention surrounding Freddie Gray and race relations between
African-American citizens and the police. See Jones v.
Chapman, No. ELH-14-2627, 2017 WL 1546432, at *4 (D.
Md. April 28, 2017) (finding the death of Freddie Gray
has been the subject of intense media coverage, both in
Maryland and nationally). Multiple cities, including
Baltimore, erupted with protests and civil unrest with
confrontations between the police and citizens.
posted the comment on Facebook (ECF No. 32-1) on May
2, 2015 while he was at home on his personal computer. His
Facebook page clearly identified him as a Trumbull County
Deputy Sheriff. ECF No. 25 at PageID #: 157;
Plaintiff's Deposition Exhibits 2 (ECF No. 25 at
PageID #: 223) and 3 (ECF No. 25 at PageID #:
224); ECF No. 26 at PageID #: 307. Plaintiff
described his Facebook page as limited to friends and family.
Plaintiff acknowledged, however, that anything he posts could
be disseminated to ...