United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Richard D. Bennett United States District judge.
parties in this case have asked the Court to resolve a
dispute with respect to the scope of the Court's prior
Memorandum and Order [ECF No. 29] granting partial summary
judgment for Defendants. The Court finds that its previous
decision is clear but is willing to clarify its scope as
requested by the parties. However, nothing in this Memorandum
and Order is intended to modify or alter the substance of the
Court's prior decision.
Smith was an associate professor at Baltimore City Community
College ("BCCC") who was terminated from his
teaching position in 2016. He brought an action against BCCC,
the State of Maryland, and three Individual Defendants: Tonja
L. Ringgold ("Ringgold"), Enyinnaya Iweha
("Iweha"), and Cynthia Webb ("Webb"),
alleging that the termination was a breach of his teaching
contract and in violation of his federal and state due
process rights, and that the Individual Defendants conspired
and interfered with his economic relationship with BCCC.
argued that Smith's termination was legitimate because he
failed to meet the standards necessary to remain an associate
professor, including carrying a semester teaching load of 15
Teaching Assignment Units ("TAUs"). Due to changes
in course offerings at BCCC, Plaintiff became ineligible to
teach many of BCCC's courses, yet he refused to gain the
education or certifications necessary to stay competitive as
a professor. See Iweha Aff. ¶¶ 3-5, ECF
No. 18-10. As a result, Plaintiff was only eligible to teach
6 TAUs for the 2016 Spring Semester instead of the 15 TAUs
required by his contract. Id. ¶¶ 9-10. He
received a "poor" performance rating for the
2015-2016 academic school year based on his low TAUs and
Defendant Webb's evaluation of his work. Id.
¶ 12; see also Webb Aff. ¶ 25, ECF No.
motions hearing on March 28, 2018, this Court issued a
written decision granting summary judgment for Defendants on
all claims except for Count VI, the federal due process claim
(against the Individual Defendants), and Count VII, the state
due process claim (against all Defendants). See
Memorandum and Order at 32, ECF No. 29.
parties are currently in discovery and have been referred to
Magistrate Judge Mark Coulson for settlement discussions.
decision, this Court found that the various personnel
decisions were authorized and made within the scope of each
Individual Defendant's employment. Id. at 18-19;
see also id. at 23 (the Court was
unpersuaded by Plaintiffs argument "that the acts of the
Individual Defendants, including the decision to terminate
Plaintiffs contract, were unauthorized.").
this Court rejected arguments that Defendants had
intentionally interfered with Smith's TAUs and
performance evaluations to terminate his teaching contract.
Id. at 20 ("The Court finds that Plaintiffs
conclusory allegations that the Individual Defendants acted
with ill motive, malice, or gross negligence in terminating
his contract are not adequately supported."). In fact,
this Court rejected allegations of intentional, willful, or
malicious manipulation of Smith's TAUs made against each
of the Individual Defendants. Id. at 20-22. Rather,
this Court made the following finding:
"[B]ased on the record, Plaintiff had low TAUs for
Spring 2016 due to several reasons, including BCCC's
decision to cancel some ETP courses and change other courses
to electives in response to the a state legislative action
(resulting in fewer courses that Plaintiff was qualified to
teach), and the inability of Plaintiff and his supervisors to
agree on other TAU-qualifying options."
Id. at 20-21.
this Court permitted the federal and state due process claims
to survive because there were disputes of material fact about
whether Smith's termination was undertaken in accordance
with the procedures specified in his contract and the faculty
dispute resolution process. Id. at 26-28.
parties dispute whether this Court's prior Memorandum and
Order allows Defendants to use the legitimacy of Smith's
termination as a defense in further proceedings (or whether
it prevents Plaintiff from challenging the substantive
legitimacy of his termination for the remaining due process
claims). In other words, the issue is whether a finding
regarding some Counts-for ...