United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division
Daniel L. Carnes, Sr., Plaintiff
Lima City Schools, et al., Defendants
G. CARR SR. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
an employment-discrimination case.
Daniel Carnes worked as a custodian for the defendant Lima
City Schools from 1985 until he retired in November, 2015.
year before his retirement, Carnes made delusional statements
about a supposed “best friend” relationship he
had with a teacher. When Superintendent Jill Ackerman met
with Carnes to discuss the incident, Carnes's behavior so
alarmed Ackerman that she determined Carnes posed a threat to
school safety. Ackerman therefore referred Carnes to the
school behaviorist, placed him on leave until he until he
obtained a fit-for-duty slip, and ordered him not to enter
school property. Carnes never obtained the fit-for-duty slip,
however. Instead, and while still on leave, he retired.
now alleges that the school district placed him on leave
because it regarded him as disabled, in violation of Ohio
law, and in retaliation for alleging that the teacher had
sexually harassed him, in violation of state law and the
First Amendment. He also alleges that the school district
deprived him of his protected liberty and property interests
without due process of law.
is proper under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1367(a).
is the school district's motion for summary judgment.
(Doc. 52). For the following reasons, I grant the motion.
October 24, 2014, Superintendent Ackerman received a phone
call from Angela Heffner, the principal of Liberty Arts
Magnet School. (Doc. 26 at 14). Heffner explained that, on
the previous day, Carnes told her that the school's first
grade teacher “was his best friend, ” that Carnes
“wanted to put her children in his will, ” and
that Carnes believed the teacher's husband did not like
him. (Id. at 15). Carnes also told Heffner that he
had tried to visit the teacher's house, but “she
had given him the wrong address.” (Id.).
Carnes reported to work later that day, Ackerman met with
him, his union representative, and Tim Haller, Carnes's
supervisor. (Id. at 15, 17). She questioned Carnes
about his relationship with the teacher, and Carnes responded
that “they were best friends and that they had been
best friends for over five years.” (Id. at
17). Carnes also explained that “he was in charge of
making sure that her children were safe when she was out of
suggested that this relationship might be inappropriate, and
Carnes demanded to know what Ackerman was going to do about
it. He alleged that the teacher “had been rubbing on
his legs . . . rubbing her hair against his face and
whispering in his ear that she wanted to give him
alcohol.” (Id. at 17-18).
point, Ackerman told Carnes that she was “very
concerned about his mental state” and that she wanted
him to see a behaviorist who worked in the “health
clinic in [the Lima] high school[.]” (Id. at
18). She explained that she was placing Carnes on paid leave,
and that he could not return to work before he obtained a
“Fit for Duty slip” from a mental health
professional. (Id.). This upset Carnes, who said
“he was going to file with the EEOC, with the Supreme
Court, and the President of the United States.”
shared Ackerman's concern for Carnes's state of mind.
He testified that, “[w]ith [Carnes's] erratical
[sic] behavior, we felt that not only he may be a
threat to [the first-grade teacher] but he may be a threat to
the students and quite frankly maybe himself.” (Doc. 27
the meeting, Ackerman sent Carnes a letter reiterating that
she had placed him on paid leave so he could “resolve
current health issues that [she] believe[d] are impeding
[his] ability to perform [his] assigned duties in a safe
manner.” (Doc. 25 at 134). Ackerman also noted that she
had made an appointment for Carnes to see a psychologist,
Fred Ferri. (Id.). Her letter concluded by
instructing Carnes to “remain off of all Lima City
Schools property” until the school district had
received Dr. Ferri's report and “ma[d]e a
determination on [Carnes's] leave status.”
Ackerman and Principal Haller investigated Carnes's
sexual-harassment allegations. (Doc. 27 at 14-15).
than turning up evidence to corroborate his claims, however,
Haller and Ackerman discovered that the teacher “felt
uncomfortable with Daniel” because he “was
spending a lot of time in her classroom.” (Id.
at 15). The teacher reported that, when Carnes “began
asking for her address in the spring of 2014, ” she
gave him the wrong address. Carnes tried to visit that
address, and became “visibly upset” when he
learned it was not the teacher's residence. (Doc. 26 at
October 31, 2014, the teacher obtained an order of protection
against Carnes from the Common Pleas Court of Allen County,
Ohio. (Doc. 25 at 137-41). The order, which the court served
on the school district, forbade Carnes to have any contact
with the teacher or her three children. It also barred Carnes
from entering the teacher's residence, her place of
employment, and the school that her children attended.
Monica Clark, the school district's behaviorist and
mental-health specialist, met with Carnes on October 27,
2014. (Doc. 26 at 22). Based on her evaluation of Carnes, she
determined that Carnes “was a threat to himself,
possibly others” and asked that “he not return to
Lima Senior High School because of the threat of safety for
the students.” (Id. at 24). She reported her
concerns to the Lima Police Department (id. at 56)
and to Ackerman, who, in turn, warned the teacher about
Carnes. (Id. at 24).
met with Dr. Ferri on November 2. (Doc. 25 at 134). Carnes
told Ferri that: 1) he hears “voices ‘on the
inside'”; 2) the voices are “clear as a
bell”; and 3) the voices come to him “from . . .
[the first grade teacher].” (Doc. 30-2 at 4). Carnes
sometimes saw images in his head of the teacher “and
her husband going to bed at night and they were both
naked.” (Id. at 9). According to Carnes, he
knew that the teacher's husband “gets drunk . . .
‘every night, I know' because the man admits it to
him and he also sees it.” (Id.). Carnes also
saw visions of the teacher's husband raping her.
(Id. at 12).
Ferri concluded that Carnes had “a significant
delusional disorder” that was “specifically
encapsulated in the firmly held belief that he and the
teacher have a loving relationship[.]” (Id. at
18). He recommended that Carnes see a psychiatrist and
psychologist for at least three to six months of treatment.
(Id. at 20). Ferri opined that Carnes should
“not return to work at the present time.”
filed a charge with the EEOC on November 4, 2014. (Doc. 8-1
at 2). He alleged that another custodian working for the
school district, Rita Johns, harassed him “because of
my sex, ” in violation of Title VII. (Id.).
to Carnes, Johns was “terrible, ” loud, and
vulgar. (Id. at 29). On two occasions - one in late
July, 2014, and another in early August, 2014 - Johns had two
“altercations” with Carnes. Carnes reported these
incidents to Ackerman, and Ackerman suspended Johns for three
days without pay and forbade her to have verbal contact with