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Desjardins v. Willard

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

January 23, 2015

DANA DESJARDINS, Plaintiff, Appellant,
v.
DONALD WILLARD; MICHAEL REYNOLDS, Defendants, Appellees

As Amended January 29, 2015.

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MAINE. Hon. Nancy Torresen, U.S. District Judge.

John S. Campbell, with whom Campbell & Associates, P.A. was on brief, for appellant.

Daniel J. Murphy, with whom Bernstein Shur was on brief, for appellees.

Before Lynch, Chief Judge, Souter, Associate Justice,[*] and Selya, Circuit Judge.

OPINION

Page 44

LYNCH, Chief Judge.

What is left of this case after dismissal of the federal claims involves state law defamation and false light claims by one town official for the town of Raymond, Maine, against another town official.[1] This case started in state superior court, and was removed based on federal claims under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. The federal claims were, as we discuss below, correctly dismissed. The remaining state law claims under supplemental jurisdiction involve resolution of a potential conflict between Maine's Anti-SLAPP statute, Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 14, § 556, and Maine's state constitution, a conflict that is best resolved by the Maine courts. The foundational federal claims having been dismissed, we vacate and direct that the remaining state law claims be remanded to state court. See Camelio v. Am. Fed'n, 137 F.3d 666, 672 (1st Cir. 1998).

I.

Dana Desjardins alleges that, beginning in late 2012, defendant Michael Reynolds, a fellow town official, told the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department that Desjardins had attended public meetings drunk and driven while intoxicated. Reynolds allegedly knew, or should have known, that these reports were false because he also attends these meetings and knows that Desjardins rarely drinks. Desjardins alleges that these false statements damaged his reputation and caused the Sheriff's Department to red-flag Desjardins and pull his car over without cause.

In August 2013, Desjardins brought suit in Cumberland County Superior Court. The heart of this case is Desjardins' state law claims for defamation and false light invasion of privacy.[2] He also alleged federal claims under § 1983 for violations of the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable seizures and a Fourteenth Amendment Due Process protection of a liberty interest in avoiding reputational harm. The removal to federal court in September 2013 was on the basis of these federal claims.

We affirm the dismissal of the federal claims. Desjardins' Fourth Amendment claim fails because there is no proximate causation between Reynolds' actions and the allegedly unconstitutional traffic stop: the most that the complaint plausibly alleges is that Reynolds requested

Page 45

that the Sheriff's Department send a deputy to the January 8, 2013 selectboard meeting, but instead accepted the sheriff's proposed plan to monitor for erratic driving. See Ocasio-Hernandez v. Fortuño-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 16 (1st Cir. 2011). Desjardins fails to state a Fourteenth Amendment Due Process claim because the alleged stigma from defamatory statements and the resulting harm to tangible interests, being red-flagged and having his car pulled over, " 'derive from distinct sources.'" Mead v. Independence Ass'n, 684 F.3d 226, 233-34 (1st Cir. 2012) (quoting URI Student Senate v. Town of Narragansett, 631 F.3d 1, 10 (1st Cir. 2011)) (holding that to state a Due Process claim based on stigmatization, a party must allege " stigma-plus" -- " 'an adverse effect on some interest more ...


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