United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division
RANDY L. HAGANS, Plaintiff,
CITY OF NORFOLK, Defendant.
L. Wright Allen United States District Judge
matters before the Court are a Motion for Summary Judgment, a
request for hearing, and a Motion in Limine to
Exclude Testimony filed by the City of Norfolk
("Defendant" or "City"). For the reasons
stated below, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
(ECF No. 22) is GRANTED; the request for
hearing (ECF No. 26) is DENIED; the Motion
in Limine (ECF No. 27) is DENIED as
Hagans ("Plaintiff) was employed beginning in December
2003 as a Child Counselor III by the City in its Department
of Human Services at a juvenile detention center operated by
the City. On September 12, 2015, Mr. Hagans was involved in a
restraint situation with a then-seventeen-year-old resident
of the detention center. The resident became agitated after
Mr. Hagans told him to go to his room following verbal
restraint incident was referred to the Virginia Beach Child
Protective Services ("CPS") Office, which opened an
investigation. A CPS Investigator, Meghan Denham, conducted
an investigation and disclosed her findings of "founded
Level 1 disposition of physical abuse of a child."
Following Ms. Denham's conclusion, Mr. Hagans was placed
on pre-disciplinary leave.
November 2015, Ms. Denham issued a letter detailing her
findings (the "Denham Letter"). A letter was issued
to Mr. Hagans notifying him of his right to an administrative
appeal of its findings. Mr. Hagans appeared with counsel at
the pre-disciplinary conference. Following the conference,
the City issued a Request for Termination. This request was
approved by the Director of Human Resources, Mr. Hawks, and
Mr. Hagans' employment was terminated.
Hagans timely requested a grievance panel hearing regarding
his termination. In response to Mr. Hagans' request, the
City convened a grievance panel and received evidence from
Mr. Hagans and the City regarding his
termination. At the hearing, over Mr. Hagans'
objection, the City introduced the Denham Letter into
evidence. Ms. Denham was not in attendance, and Mr. Hagans
did not cross-examine her. At the conclusion of the hearing,
the grievance panel upheld Mr. Hagans' termination.
Hagans filed this federal lawsuit against the City of
Norfolk. In his Complaint, Mr. Hagans presented four claims
against the City: deprivation of property interests in
violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count I); deprivation of
liberty interests in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(Count II); declaratory judgment (Count III); and negligence
(Count IV). The City filed a Motion to Dismiss. In Mr.
Hagans' Memorandum in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss, he
voluntarily dismissed Counts III and IV. The Court dismissed
Count II. The remaining claim before the Court is Count I,
deprivation of property interests in violation of 42 U.S.C.
Motion for Summary Judgment
City of Norfolk moves for summary judgment on Count I, the
remaining procedural due process claim. Because there is
"no factual dispute on the essentials of what transpired
in the procedures leading to the termination, the question of
whether due process was accorded [is] determinable as a
matter of law." Rodgers v. Norfolk Sch Bd, 755
F.2d 59, 62 (4th Cir. 1985). The City also requests a hearing
on the Motion. ECF No. 26. The Court resolves the Motion on
the parties' briefing, and a hearing is unnecessary.
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." Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). "[T]he mere existence of some alleged
factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an
otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the
requirement is that there be no genuine issue of
material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). Furthermore,
only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the
suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry
of summary judgment; factual disputes that are irrelevant or
unnecessary will not be considered by a court in its
determination. Id. at 248.
moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the
absence of an essential element of the nonmoving party's
case and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. See Honor v. Booz-Allen & Hamilton,
Inc., 383 F.3d 180, 185 (4th Cir. 2004). A movant's
"burden may be discharged by demonstrating that there is
an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's
case." Goldberg v. B. Green and Co., Inc., 836
F.2d 845, 847 (4th Cir. 1988) (internal citations and
motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported,
the opposing party must show that a genuine dispute of
material fact exists. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). In
order to successfully defeat a motion for summary judgment,
the nonmoving party must rely on more than conclusory
allegations, "mere speculation," the "building
of one inference upon another," the "mere existence
of a scintilla of evidence," or the appearance of
"some metaphysical doubt" concerning a material
fact. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252; see also
Thompson v. Potomac Elec. Power Co., 312 F.3d 645, 649
(4th Cir. 2002). There must be "sufficient evidence
favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict
for that party. If the evidence is merely colorable, or is
not significantly probative, summary judgment may be
granted." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50
stage, a court's function is not to "weigh the
evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to
determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial."
Id. at 249. In doing so, the court must construe the
facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and
may not make credibility determinations or weigh the
evidence. See Id. ...