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Doe-1 v. Huddleston

May 12, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joe Billy McDADE United States District Judge


Before the Court are Defendant Gerald Huddleston's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. # 213], Motion to Strike the Affidavit of Annette Hale [Doc. # 238]; and Motion to Strike Certain Paragraphs of the Affidavit of Jenna Hale [Doc. # 240]. For the reasons that follow, the motion for summary judgment will be granted in part, and the motions to strike will be denied as moot.

I. Background

The following facts are undisputed. During the time relevant to this case, Defendant Huddleston was employed as an art teacher by Defendant Prairie Central School District No. 8 Board of Education ("PCSD"). As part of his employment during the 2001-2002 school year, Huddleston taught art to first grade students at Westview Elementary School in Fairbury, Illinois two times per week. Plaintiff Jane Doe-1 ("Jane") was one of his students that year.

Huddleston placed photographs of his students around the door frame of his classroom at Westview when they were given to him. During the school year, Huddleston acquired a picture of Jane that had been cut into the shape of a heart and he displayed it on his door frame with the other student pictures. During one class, after Huddleston showed Jane's class a "well-done" picture she had drawn, Jane became embarrassed and blushed. Later, Huddleston told Jane's classmates that he could make her blush again; he then stated that Jane was his girlfriend. Huddleston testified that this was an isolated incident that was meant as a joke. However, a classmate of Jane's attested that Huddleston said Jane was his girlfriend "almost every time [they] went to art class." Other children teased Jane about being Huddleston's girlfriend.

During the 2001-2002 school year, Jane suffered from distress and anxiety with physical manifestations of crying, vomiting and bed-wetting. She did not want to attend Westview, and was eventually removed and home-schooled. Jane's parents, John and Julie Doe-1, have brought this suit on her behalf, naming themselves as individual Plaintiffs.

II. Legal Standard

Summary judgment should be granted where "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The moving party has the responsibility of informing the Court of portions of the record or affidavits that demonstrate the absence of a triable issue. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The moving party may meet its burden of showing an absence of disputed material facts by demonstrating "that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Id. at 325. Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Cain v. Lane, 857 F.2d 1139, 1142 (7th Cir. 1988).

If the moving party meets its burden, the non-moving party then has the burden of presenting specific facts to show that there is a genuine issue of material fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e) requires the non-moving party to go beyond the pleadings and produce evidence of a genuine issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. Nevertheless, this Court must "view the record and all inferences drawn from it in the light most favorable to the [non-moving party]." Holland v. Jefferson Nat. Life Ins. Co., 883 F.2d 1307, 1312 (7th Cir. 1989). Summary judgment will be denied where a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Hedberg v. Indiana Bell Tel. Co., 47 F.3d 928, 931 (7th Cir. 1995).

III. Analysis

Plaintiffs have dismissed all but two of their claims against Huddleston. Remaining are a section 1983 claim and an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. As discussed below, the Court will grant Huddleston's motion as to the section 1983 claim, however, the Court will decline supplemental jurisdiction over the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim because of the novelty of the issues involved.

A. Section 1983 Claim

The Complaint alleges Huddleston violated Jane, Julie, and John Doe's constitutional rights to due process and equal protection. Huddleston has moved for summary judgment, arguing, inter alia, that Plaintiffs can not show a constitutional violation. In response, Plaintiffs have only addressed Jane's constitutional right to equal protection. Accordingly, the Court finds that summary judgment in favor of Huddleston as to John and Julie Doe-1's section 1983 claims as well as any claims by Jane Doe based on a violation of her due process rights is appropriate. Cf. Reidt v. County of Trempealeau, 975 F.2d 1336, 1341 (7th Cir. 1992)(plaintiff who failed to develop a claim in the district court waived it). Thus, the Court will only address the claimed violations of Jane's right to equal protection.

The Seventh Circuit has found that sexual harassment can constitute sexual discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Bohen v. City of East Chicago, Ind., 799 F.2d 1180, 1185 (7th Cir. 1986). Bohen involved harassment of a female employee working for a state employer. Even so, the Bohen court recognized that sexual harassment in the context of an Equal Protection violation differs from the inquiry in Title VII employment discrimination cases in that the "ultimate inquiry" in an Equal Protection claim is "whether the sexual harassment constitutes intentional discrimination." In Nabozny v. Podlesny, 92 F.3d 446 (7th Cir. 1996), the Seventh Circuit again recognized that "[t]he gravamen of equal protection lies not in the fact of deprivation of a right but in the invidious classification of persons aggrieved by the state's action." Id. at 453. In Nabozny, the Seventh Circuit found the district court ...

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