a negligence standard is required for private defamation actions whereas actual malice
is required for public figures to prevail in a defamation claim)."
Source and Full Document
BRIAN ADDISON, Plaintiff,
CITY OF BAKER CITY, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
You [Addison] are a valued member of our Treatment Team and you bring many assets to our program. It is our belief that you are committed to this program and want to do the best job possible. Therefore, it is the intent of this Plan, to specifically state what is expected of you, so that you use it as a tool in order to improve your skills and remain within the scope of service you are to provide.
A. Defendants' Motion For Summary Judgment
1. First Claim: First Amendment Retaliation, against Lohner
(1) he engaged in constitutionally protected activity; (2) as a result, he was subjected to adverse action by the defendant that would chill a person of ordinary firmness from continuing to engage in the protected activity; and (3) there was a substantial causal relationship between the constitutionally protected activity and the adverse action.
a. Adverse action
Retaliation claims involving government speech warrant a cautious approach by courts. Restricting the ability of government decisionmakers to engage in speech risks interfering with their ability to effectively perform their duties. It also ignores the competing First Amendment rights of the officials themselves. . . .
In accordance with these principles, we have set a high bar when analyzing whether speech by government officials is sufficiently adverse to give rise to a First Amendment retaliation claim.
b. Causal connection
c. Qualified immunity
i. Constitutional right
ii. Clearly established
2. Second Claim: Supervisory Liability, against Lohner
3. Third Claim: Municipal Liability, against Baker City
4. Fourth Claim: Intentional Interference with Economic Relations
(1) the existence of a professional or business relationship (which could include, e.g., a contract or a prospective economic advantage), (2) intentional interference with that relationship, (3) by a third party, (4) accomplished through improper means or for an improper purpose, (5) a causal effect between the interference and damage to the economic relationship, and (6) damages.
a. Defendants' Arguments Attacking the Merits
b. Governmental Immunity
(6) Every public body and its officers, employees and agents acting within the scope of their employment or duties . . . are immune from liability for:
(c) Any claim based upon the performance of or the failure to exercise or perform a discretionary function or duty, whether or not the discretion is abused.
The legislature did not define the term "discretionary function or duty," and this court has struggled with the concept over the years. The result of that struggle, however, is an extensive body of case law refining the concepts. Briefly, the decision of a governmental official, employee, or body is entitled to discretionary immunity if a governmental person or entity made a policy choice among alternatives, with the authority to make that choice. Discretionary immunity does not apply, however, to "routine decisions made by employees in the course of their day-to-day activities, even though the decision involves a choice among two or more courses of action."
involves the delegated responsibility for "assessment and ranking of the policy objectives explicit or implicit in the statute" and for the judgment that one or more of these objectives will be served by a given action. In other words, insofar as an official action involves both the determination of facts and simple cause-and-effect relationships and also the assessment of costs and benefits, the evaluation of relative effectiveness and risks, and a choice among competing goals and priorities, an official has "discretion" to the extent that he has been delegated responsibility for the latter kind of value judgment.
c. Absolute Privilege
5. Fifth Claim: Defamation
6. Sixth and Seventh Claims: Procedural and Substantive Due Process
a. Procedural due process
the jury heard evidence not only of Winter's representations to plaintiff during the 1985 performance plan and of Farmers's stated company policy, but also of repeated, direct and indirect assurances to plaintiff that Farmers would not terminate the agreement absent good cause. In addition, the jury heard evidence that Farmer's managers falsely documented "good cause" grounds for plaintiff's termination, a fact that tended to establish that Farmers itself did not believe that it continued to have the right to rely on the at-will provision of the agreement.
b. Substantive due process
B. Addison's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
1. Timeliness Defenses
a. Statute of limitations
b. OTCA notice
2. First Amendment Defenses
a. Seventh Affirmative Defense
The statements were not published in a way that made them available to the general public and they were not a subject for public discussion or comment. They involved a purely private matter between private parties, and the possibility of liability for defamation poses "no threat to the free and robust debate of public issues; there is no potential interference with a meaningful dialogue of ideas concerning self-government; and there is no threat of liability causing a reaction of self-censorship by the press. The facts of the present case are wholly without the First Amendment concerns with which the Supreme Court of the United States has been struggling."
b. Tenth Affirmative Defense
c. Eighteenth Affirmative Defense