United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
CLINTON J. DADE, Plaintiff,
FRANKLIN COUNTY, OHIO, et al, Defendants.
Chelsey M. Vascura Magistrate Judge
OPINION & ORDER
ALGENON L. MARBLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 21). For the reasons below, there
remains no genuine dispute of material facts. Defendants'
Motion is GRANTED.
Clinton J. Dade was employed by the Franklin County
Sheriff's Office from September 2015 to August 2016.
After he was fired, Plaintiff brought this suit against
Franklin County, Ohio; Dallas Baldwin, Franklin County
Sheriff, in his official capacity; and Zachary Scott, the
former Franklin County Sheriff, in his individual and
official capacities. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants
interfered with his constitutionally guaranteed right to
freedom of intimate association and, because Defendants did
so under color of law, are liable under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Plaintiff requests reinstatement, back pay and actual
damages, compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys'
fees, and injunctive relief declaring the relevant Franklin
County Sheriff's Rule of Conduct to be constitutionally
vague and overbroad.
filed his Complaint (ECF No. 1) in June 2017. Defendants
subsequently filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 21)
to which Plaintiff filed a memorandum contra (ECF No. 26).
Defendants filed a reply. (ECF No. 28). This is now ripe for
was a probationary Sheriff's Deputy, hired on September
14, 2015. (ECF No. 20, Ex. 4). Plaintiff was given paperwork
outlining the Sheriff Office's (“the Office”)
employment policies, including policies concerning
probationary employees. (ECF No. 20 at 27; ECF No. 20, Ex.
8). Plaintiff was informed that his probationary period was
one year, and that “during the one year probationary
period that follows the employee's hire date, ” a
probationary employee “can be removed from service
without cause at any time.” (Id.). The Office
also maintains rules of conduct for its employees. (ECF No.
20, Ex. 32). Plaintiff received a copy of these regulations
during his training. (ECF No. 20 at 131). Two rules relevant
here are AR102.19 and AR102.29. The first, AR102.19, is
titled “Association with Wrong Elements, ” and
reads in full:
Personnel will avoid association or dealings with persons
whom they know, or should know, are persons under criminal
investigation or indictment, or who have a reputation in the
community or the Office for involvement in felonious or
criminal behavior, except as necessary to the performance of
official duties, or when unavoidable because of other
personal relationships. (ECF No. 20, Ex. 32).
AR102.29 is titled “Unbecoming Conduct, ” and
reads in full:
Personnel will conduct themselves at all times, both on and
off duty, in such a manner as to reflect most favorably on
the Office. Unbecoming conduct will include that which brings
the Office into disrepute or reflects discredit upon the
individual as a member of the Office or that, which impairs
the operation, or efficiency of the Office or the individual.
1, 2016, the Office received an email from Michelle Whitehall
making allegations against Plaintiff. Ms. Whitehall and
Plaintiff have two kids together, one daughter and one son,
although it appears Plaintiff only knew the son was his
during the events relevant here. (ECF No. 20 at
106:19-107:11). According to Defendants' Internal Affairs
Investigation file, Ms. Whitehall alleged Plaintiff
“had beaten her on several occasions.” (ECF No.
17, Ex. 1 at 4). Ms. Whitehall said she had pictures of the
marks he left. (Id.). Ms. Whitehall also alleged
Plaintiff “consumes alcohol daily and drinks and
drives…and would tell stories of what he did to
inmates while working at Franklin County Sheriff's
Ms. Whitehall's email, the Office opened an internal
investigation. First, the Office discovered that Plaintiff
had a “speed and seat belt conviction” from March
2016 which he had not disclosed to the Office. (ECF No. 17,
Ex. 1 at 4). Internal Affairs interviewed Plaintiff and made
multiple efforts to contact Ms. Whitehall. (Id.).
Ms. Whitehall “chose not to cooperate” with the
investigation, so “with the lack of any evidence
supporting her allegations, ” Internal Affairs
recommended the case be closed as “unfounded.”
(Id. at 6). However, Plaintiff was reprimanded for
failing to report his speed and seatbelt violation. (ECF No.
20 at 43:12-22).
August 9, 2016, officers from the Columbus Police Department
(CPD) responded to a “domestic violence/assault”
involving Plaintiff and Ms. Whitehall. (ECF No. 20, Ex. 2 at
3). Both parties gave statements, which agree about only
certain facts from the evening. In a statement to the Office,
Plaintiff said “at around 1am, I was told by my sons
mother [sic] that I could come over and she would preform
[sic] oral sex on me.” (ECF No. 19, Ex. 2 at 6). Ms.
Whitehall met Plaintiff in his car, where the two talked and
drank wine; when they finished the wine, Plaintiff
“drove to a nearby bar and purchased a few beers to
go.” (Id. at 3). Although Ms. Whitehall began
to perform fellatio, at some point she stopped, and “an
argument erupted about whether Deputy Dade's girlfriend
was around their son, ” at which point Plaintiff asked
Ms. Whitehall to get out of the car. (Id.).
point, the two stories diverge: Plaintiff alleges Ms.
Whitehall refused to get out of the car and instead threw a
beer at him, so he dialed 911. (Id.). He alleges Ms.
Whitehall hit him in the face and tore his shirt; that she
re-entered the car “while clawing at his face”;
that she placed him in a headlock and he bit her on the
stomach. (Id.). Plaintiff said that he began to walk
away, leaving Ms. Whitehall in the car, but he realized his
phone was still in the car, so he walked back and attempted
to drive away. But while he did so, Ms. Whitehall climbed
back into the car, so he stopped the car and dragged her out
and on to the grass, before he eventually drove away.
Whitehall's version of events, Plaintiff choked her, and
she responded by hitting him. Plaintiff allegedly threw her
to the ground once they were both out of the car; and when
they were back in the car, Ms. Whitehall alleges Plaintiff
punched her, bit ...