Sisney’s Response to the District’s motion for partial summary judgment

Note: This article was written by ROBIN READER (612) and was originally published on her website Broken Arrow Forum on December 22, 2010, and reappears here on this blog with her permission.

On 11/19/2010, the District filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the judge to rule in its favor on 5 claims.  The District said that all five are torts, and according to the law, they had been filed half a year too late.  In addition, it identifies 4 of the 5 (all except Implied Covenant ) as intentional torts, for which a school district can’t be liable.

Count I:    Defamation
Count III:  Constructive Discharge
Count IV:  Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing
Count V:  Tortious Interference with Business Contract
Count VI:  Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

On 12/16/2010, Sisney filed to dismiss four of the five:  all except Count IV, Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing.

On 12/21/2010, Sisney filed his Response to the District’s motion, which addresses only Count IV since he dismissed the others.

The Response states that Count IV was listed in the District’s Motion, but the support brief is “devoid of any discussion of this cause of action” and questions whether it was included by accident.   It contends that the Breach of Implied Covenant and Good Faith charge is related to the breach of contract charge, so should be treated the same way, with a 5-year limit instead of the 180 day limit on torts.

The District’s Motion does identify Implied Covenant as a tort, which would be subject to the 180-day deadline.  I looked it up and found it listed as a tort several times.  But I don’t really know – circumstances could figure into it.  I didn’t see where it was addressed individually, with other problems pointed out, like the other four.

An interesting thing I ran across is that you can’t collect punitive damages for Breach of Contract.  If this is true, it may be one reason Sisney’s attorney is trying to hang onto the Implied Covenant charge – so they can collect something more than the payout of his contract through June 2009, which of course he has already received.

Another reason for trying to keep this charge might be that their only angle on the Breach of Contract is to claim that Sisney had the board’s “good faith” assurance that he would have employment for 3 more years because of his contract.  She may point to his previous years’ evaluations, which were probably good, to show that he was blindsided by their capricious decision to suddenly and without warning terminate him.

In light of the evidence of Sisney’s actions in his last few months, this probably won’t hold up, but it may keep the claims against the District alive a little bit longer.

These are just some guesses on my part, with my very limited knowledge of the laws involved.  And of course I’m completely in the dark on Sisney’s attorney’s strategy.  Whatever her strategy is, it does not seem to involve filing ridiculous things and wasting enormous amounts of time and money.  A professional and competent attorney representing Sisney is beneficial to everyone.  I am hopeful that we are moving toward resolution as quickly as possible.

Plaintiff’s response to district’s motion for summary judgment 12/20/10

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