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Dyer v. Unified Sch. Dist. No. 500

United States District Court, D. Kansas

October 29, 2014

Mozella Dyer, Plaintiff,
v.
Unified School District No. 500, et al., Defendants

For Mozella M. Dyer, Plaintiff: Alan V. Johnson, LEAD ATTORNEY, Sloan, Eisenbarth, Glassman, McEntire & Jarboe, L.L.C., Topeka, KS; Derek L. Brown, LEAD ATTORNEY, Sloan, Eisenbarth, Glassman, McEntire & Jarboe, LLC - Topeka, Topeka, KS.

For Cynthia Lane, Individually and in her official capacity as Superintendent, Jill Shackleford, Individually and in her official capacity as Former Superintendent, Jayson Strickland, Individually and in his official capacity as Assistant Superintendent Secondary, USD 500, Edwin Hudson, Individually and in his official capacity as Chief Human Resources Officer, Barbara Kirkegaard, Individually and in her official capacity as Lead Human Resources Director, Sherry Samples, Individually and in her official capacity as Human Resource Director, USD 500, Steve Vaughn, Individually and in his official capacity as Human Resource Director, USD 500, John D. Rios, Individually and in his official capacity as Former Assistant Superintendant, USD 500, John Lee, Individually and in his official capacity as Finance, Payroll & Human Resources Manager, Kelli Mather, Individually and in her official capacity as Chief Financial Officer, Joe Fives, Individually and in his official capacity as Director of Technology and Information Services, Defendants: Deryl W. Wynn, Teresa A. Mata, LEAD ATTORNEYS, McAnany, Van Cleave & Phillips, P.A. -- KCK, Kansas City, KS.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. THOMAS MARTEN, JUDGE.

Plaintiff Mozella Dyer brought the present action claiming that she was fired from her job with the Kansas City, Kansas Unified School District because of racial discrimination. The court granted the defendants summary judgment, finding that the uncontroverted facts established, among other things, that Dyer was legally terminated from her administrative position. (Dkt. 161). Following her appeal, this determination was affirmed by the Tenth Circuit. (Dkt. 168).

The Clerk of the Court accordingly taxed the costs of the action against Dyer. The matter is before the court on the plaintiff's Motion to Review Taxation of Costs, which argues that Clerk should not have imposed costs under the circumstances of the case.

At the outset, the court notes that much of Dyer's argument is simply contrary to the law of the case or is otherwise entirely without factual foundation. She alleges, for example, that the defendants

Page 1327

have acted in bad faith and have refused to produce documents required for the case. (Dkt. 173, at 4). A review of the record reveals nothing to support this claim.

The United States Magistrate Judge granted in part and denied in part plaintiff's Motion to Compel, requiring the defendants to produce prior School District policies and salary information. At the same time, the court found that the plaintiff's requests were " not describe[d] with reasonable particularity," that many of the plaintiff's requests for production were moot following supplemental disclosures, that " a number of plaintiff's discovery request lack specificity," and rejected plaintiff's request for unredacted personnel information.

The Magistrate Judge made no findings of intention or deliberate obstruction, and based on the history of the action, such a conclusion is entirely unfounded. The discovery disputes, on both sides, are entirely typical for modern civil litigation.

Dyer further contends that costs should not be taxed because " Summary Judgment was not appropriate in this case" and that the award of summary judgment deprived her of various constitutional rights. ( Id. at 7). Similarly, Dyer devotes much of her Reply (Dkt. 177, at 4-7) essentially rearguing the facts of the case. Both this court and the Tenth Circuit, however, concluded that summary judgment was appropriate in light of the uncontroverted evidence.

Much of Dyer's remaining argument is premised on the Ninth Circuit's decision in Association of Mexican-American Educators v. California, 231 F.3d 572, 592 (9th Cir. 2000). The cited case bears little resemblance to the present action. In it, the Ninth Circuit did not hold that taxation of costs against the plaintiffs was inappropriate, it simply held that the district court had not abused its discretion in declining to tax costs. In reaching this conclusion, the court stressed the exceptional nature of the case, in which the plaintiffs challenged a state test (the California Basic Education Skills Test, or CBEST) for certain basic skills as a prerequisite to state employment.

The statute was challenged by a broad class of Mexican-American, Asian-American, and African-American teachers, who argued that CBEST violated their civil rights under Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act. The court found that the district court had not abused its discretion in refusing to award costs because

the case (1) " involve[s] issues of substantial public importance," specifically " educational quality, interracial disparities in economic opportunity, and access to positions of social influence; " (2) there is great economic disparity between Plaintiffs, who are individuals and " small nonprofit educational organizations," and the State of California; (3) the issues in the case are close and difficult; and (4) Plaintiffs' case, although unsuccessful, had some merit, as evidenced by ...

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