United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
OPINION & ORDER
MICHAEL R. BARRETT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court upon the Motion for Summary
Judgment filed by Defendants Michael T. Gmoser. (Doc. 22).
Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition (Doc. 29), and
Defendant filed a Reply (Doc. 32). Also before the Court is
Plaintiff's Motion to Submit Newly Uncovered Evidence in
Opposition to the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
(Doc. 33); and Defendant's Response in Opposition (Doc.
34) and Plaintiff's Reply (Doc. 35).
Jasen Hatfield has served as a Butler County Deputy Sheriff
since 2005. Defendant Michael T. Gmoser is the elected Butler
County Prosecutor. Plaintiff claims that a July 6, 2015
letter written by Defendant to Butler County Sheriff Richard
Jones caused him to be reassigned from road patrol to
prisoner transport and harmed his reputation. Plaintiff
claims the letter was motivated by a personal vendetta
Defendant had against Plaintiff.
intended his letter to be for Sheriff Jones only. (Doc. 20,
Michael Gmoser Dep. Vol. I, PAGEID# 703). Defendant raised
two concerns. (Id. at PAGEID# 767). The first
concern was based on a search and arrest conducted by
Plaintiff. (Id.) Defendant learned the details of
the search and arrest from a transcript of a hearing where
Plaintiff testified. (Id. at PAGEID# 692). Plaintiff
testified that he arrived at a house at 2:30 in the morning
to serve an outstanding warrant on Robert Lewis. (Doc. 18-1,
PAGEID# 455). Plaintiff testified that Lewis' girlfriend
gave him permission to search the house. (Id. at
PAGEID# 458). Plaintiff explained that after finding the
bathroom door locked, he kicked in the door and “nearly
slipped” on clothes which were on the floor,
“nearly injuring” himself. (Id. at
PAGEID# 460-461). Plaintiff explained that he charged Lewis
with felony obstructing official business and misdemeanor
resisting arrest because he had to kick in the door and
almost fell. (Id. at PAGEID# 461).
on the transcript, Defendant determined that Plaintiff
conducted an illegal, unconstitutional search of a private
citizen's home at 2:30 am. (Gmoser Dep. Vol. I, PAGEID#
696). Defendant saw a situation where Plaintiff or Lewis'
girlfriend could have been shot. (Id.) Defendant was
also concerned that the County would be sued in a § 1983
action based on Plaintiff's conduct. (Id.).
Defendant wanted the Sheriff to conduct an investigation and
make sure deputies were trained on how to conduct
constitutional searches. (Id. at 697). Defendant
attached the transcript to the letter he wrote to the
Sheriff. (Id. at PAGEID# 703).
second concern was that an “informed source” had
told him that Plaintiff “has a pattern of overcharging
for the purpose of gaining overtime from court proceedings
because of a heavy child support obligation and has increased
court time by separating cases so as to be scheduled in both
morning and afternoon court sessions.” (Doc. 2, PAGEID#
28). In the letter, Defendant explained:
As a result, this matter has gone from the need for simple
remedial education of a zealous deputy to consideration of
criminal conduct by a rogue deputy. Offenses that may apply
if the allegations are true are theft in office and a pattern
of corrupt activity-a second degree felony. Authorities are
attached for easy reference.
(Id. at PAGEID# 29).
8, 2015, Plaintiff was given a copy of the letter and was
notified that the Sheriff's Office would investigate the
allegations in the letter. (Doc. 18, Jasen Hatfield Dep. at
PAGEID# 124-125). That same day, Plaintiff was reassigned
from road patrol to prisoner transport. (Id. at
PAGEID# 124). Plaintiff remained in that assignment until
October of 2016. (Id.) Plaintiff showed the letter
to: Sergeant Jeff Gebhart; Assistant Prosecutors John
Heinkel, Josh Muennich, and David Kash; and defense attorneys
Gary McGee, Jon Fox, and Mike Shanks. (Id. at
PAGEID# 217-218; 220; 222; 227).
claims that because of the letter, he lost opportunities for
overtime and suffered harm to his reputation. In response to
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff
abandoned his claims for intentional infliction of emotional
distress and tortious interference with contract.
Plaintiff's remaining claims are violation of the right
to substantive due process and defamation.
Motion for Summary Judgment
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment
is proper “if the movant shows that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” The moving party has the
burden of showing an absence of evidence to support the
non-moving party's case. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). Once the moving party
has met its burden of production, the non-moving party cannot
rest on his pleadings, but must present significant probative