Mogard v. City of Milbank, No. 18-2730 (8th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed suit against the City, the police chief, and the city administrator, alleging that plaintiff was terminated without due process and in retaliation for his exercise of First Amendment free speech rights. The district court denied defendants' motion for qualified immunity.
The Eighth Circuit held that, even if plaintiff were terminated in retaliation for his speech, defendants did not violate a clearly established statutory or constitutional right of which a reasonable person would have known. Furthermore, the disputed facts did not preclude summary judgment because the dispute did not affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. In this case, defendants could reasonably conclude that plaintiff was speaking solely as an aggrieved police officer and without constitutional protection. Furthermore, plaintiff failed to establish a deprivation of a liberty interest, because he did not show that he was stigmatized by the stated reasons for his discharge and that the statements were made public. Therefore, plaintiff failed to demonstrate a constitutional violation, and the police chief and administrator were entitled to summary judgment. Finally, because plaintiff failed to demonstrate a deprivation of a property or liberty interest, his claims against the City also failed. However, this ruling did not necessarily resolve the city's liability in the retaliation claim. Accordingly, the court reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded.