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Wagner v. Campbell

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

March 4, 2015

Patricia Wagner, Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
Kevin Campbell, individual capacity, Defendant - Appellee

Submitted November 12, 2014

Page 762

Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Nebraska - Lincoln.

For Patricia Wagner, Plaintiff - Appellant: Elaine Waggoner, WAGGONER LAW OFFICE, Lincoln, NE.

For Kevin Campbell, individual capacity, Defendant - Appellee: Charles W. Campbell, ANGLE & MURPHY, York, NE.

Before RILEY, Chief Judge, BEAM and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 763

RILEY, Chief Judge.

Patricia Wagner worked at the Merrick County, Nebraska, sheriff's office from 1974 to 2011. She left her job after receiving a written reprimand from Sheriff Kevin Campbell. Wagner sued Campbell in state court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Neb. Rev. Stat. § 20-148, alleging she suffered an adverse employment action in retaliation for her protected speech on a matter of public concern, in violation of the United States and Nebraska constitutions. Upon removal, see 28 U.S.C. § § 1441(a), 1446(b), the district court[1] denied Wagner's motion for remand and granted Campbell's motion for summary judgment, finding Campbell had not violated Wagner's constitutional rights. Wagner appeals. With appellate jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

The following facts are undisputed except as noted. For over thirty years, Patricia Wagner worked at the Merrick County sheriff's office, serving as the chief dispatcher and office manager. Wagner " handl[ed] bond money[,] office records and receipts for the bond payments," " maintain[ed] the checking account ledger," and " ke[pt] the office ledger . . . show[ing] all bond money received and paid out." During this time, " the office policy" dictated that " bond money . . . posted for an inmate" would be " deposited into the [s]heriff's office checking account," and the sheriff's office would then issue a check to the court. Wagner believed " depositing bond payments into the office [checking] account . . . created a 'tracking mechanism' [that] showed [the] bond funds had been cashed, processed and paid to the court."

Campbell was appointed acting sheriff on August 1, 2010, and sheriff in January 2011. Around January 10, 2011, Campbell told Wagner " he wanted her to train another employee to perform her job duties" " so that someone else could do the job in her absence." Sometime later that month, Campbell " expressed [his] concerns to Wagner that she was not training another employee . . . as he had requested." Wagner thought the training period would have to be longer than Campbell expected.

Campbell also " informed Wagner that he had received a complaint from the county judge about delays in depositing bond money with the court." Campbell told Wagner " he wanted to change the office policy" to have bond money " taken directly to the court," rather than deposited in the sheriff's office checking account. " Wagner recalled discussing the change" with " Campbell 'a couple of times,'" " either in the dispatch office or in . . . Campbell's office [with] no one other than Campbell and Wagner . . . directly involved." Wagner " guess[ed]" this was because she was " the one who was primarily going to be the person responsible for implementing those changes." Wagner testified she expressed her concerns about the ...


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