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Draper v. City of Festus

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

April 6, 2015

Terry Draper, Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
City of Festus, Missouri; City Council of Festus, Missouri; Mayor Michael Cage; Timothy Montgomery; Gary Underwood; Paul Schaffer; Kathy Murphy; Kevin Dennis; Bobby Venz; Jim Tinnin, in their individual and official capacities, Defendants - Appellees

Submitted January 15, 2015

Page 949

Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri - St. Louis.

For Terry Draper, Plaintiff - Appellant: Brandy B. Barth, NEWTON & WRIGHT, Saint Louis, MO; C. John Pleban, PLEBAN & PETRUSKA, Saint Louis, MO.

For City of Festus, Missouri, City Council of Festus, Missouri, Mayor Michael Cage, Timothy Montgomery, Gary Underwood, Paul Schaffer, Kathy Murphy, Kevin Dennis, Bobby Venz, Jim Tinnin, in their individual and official capacities, Defendants - Appellees: Michael David Hart, Sr., SHER & CORWIN, Saint Louis, MO.

Before WOLLMAN, SMITH, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 950

WOLLMAN, Circuit Judge.

The City Council of Festus, Missouri (the City Council), terminated Terry Draper from his position as City Administrator of the City of Festus (Festus) roughly six months into a three-year employment contract. He brought suit against Festus, the City Council, the individual members of the City Council, and the mayor[1] (collectively,

Page 951

the City), alleging a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment procedural-and substantive-due-process rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a § 1983 conspiracy claim, breach of contract, and other claims not at issue on appeal. He also sought judicial review of the City Council's decision to terminate him under the Missouri Administrative Procedure Act (MAPA), Mo. Rev. Stat. § § 536.010-536.160. The district court[2] granted summary judgment to the City on Draper's aforementioned claims and upheld the City Council's decision. We affirm.

I. Background

We present the facts viewed in the light most favorable to Draper. See Jetton v. McDonnell Douglas Corp., 121 F.3d 423, 424 (8th Cir. 1997). Draper was hired as City Administrator in September 2009. He entered into a three-year employment contract with Festus on October 27, 2010, which provided for six months' severance pay if he was terminated without cause. If he was terminated with cause--defined as misfeasance, malfeasance, or an act constituting gross dereliction of duty--he was not entitled to any severance pay.

In January 2011, Timothy Montgomery began campaigning for a seat on the City Council. His campaign was highly critical of Draper's performance. Montgomery was elected to the City Council in April 2011. Shortly thereafter, Draper received notice from the City that he was suspended with pay pending a City Council meeting to discuss several allegations regarding his job performance. He responded in writing, and after the City Council meeting, he was terminated. Thereafter, he requested a public hearing before the City Council, which was scheduled for June 27, 2011, at 1:00 p.m. On June 2, 2011, six days after receiving notice of the hearing, Draper's attorney notified the City that he had a conflict and asked that the hearing be postponed until 4:00 p.m. on June 27. The City refused to reschedule the hearing. On June 13, 2011, Draper's attorney again requested a continuance, which the City denied the next day. The hearing took place at 1:00 p.m. on June 27, ...


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