Shands v. City Of Kennett

993 F.2d 1337 (8th Cir. 1993)


Ps were part-time volunteer firemen with D. A new full-time chief was hired, and there was tension amongst the ranks. A part-time position was vacant and the new chief put forward a candidate. Ps were upset because of the purchase of what they considered used equipment by the new chief that they considered unsafe and that the new part-time firemen should have been an employee or the utility company so they could quickly disconnect gas and electric lines without waiting for a utility employee to show. P spoke to a Councilman behind the new chief’s back. Ps made their complaints against the new chief. The Council voted to hire the chief’s pick. The chief discovered the problems and dismissed Ps. Their dismissal letters stated that they had been discharged for acts of insubordination and misconduct. The next day seventy-five percent of the Kennett firemen walked out in protest of the discharges. After a big to do in the local papers and at a Council meeting, the Council clarified the terms of firing in that Ps were not dismissed for any criminal acts or acts of moral turpitude; it was just for personnel matters. Ps filed this action under 1983 for termination in violation of their First Amendment rights and deprived of a liberty interest without Due Process of law. Ps got the verdict, but the court granted a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. Ps appealed.