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Bonenberger v. St. Louis Metro. Police Dep't

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

January 19, 2016

David Bonenberger, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department; the Board of Police Commissioners of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department; Bettye Battle-Turner, in her official and individual capacities as a member of the Board of Police Commissioners; Richard Gray, in his official and individual capacities as a member of the Board of Police Commissioners; Francis G. Slay, in his official and individual capacities as a member of the Board of Police Commissioners; Michael L. Gerdine, in his official and individual capacities as a former member of the Board of Police Commissioners; Jerry Lee, in his official and individual capacities as a former member of the Board of Police Commissioners; Thomas Irwin, in his official and individual capacities as a current member of the Board of Police Commissioners; Chief Daniel W. Isom, in his official and individual capacities; Lt. Col. Reggie L. Harris, in his official and individual capacities; Lt. Michael Muxo, in his official and individual capacities, Defendants - Appellants

Submitted September 24, 2015

Page 1104

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

For David Bonenberger, Plaintiff - Appellee: Lynette Marie Petruska, C. John Pleban, PLEBAN & PETRUSKA, Saint Louis, MO.

For St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, Bettye Battle-Turner, in her official and individual capacities as a member of the Board of Police Commissioners, Richard Gray, in his official and individual capacities as a member of the Board of Police Commissioners, Francis G. Slay, in his official and individual capacities as a member of the Board of Police Commissioners, Michael L. Gerdine, in his official and individual capacities as a former member of the Board of Police Commissioners, Jerry Lee, in his official and individual capacities as a former member of the Board of Police Commissioners, Thomas Irwin, in his official and individual capacities as a current member of the Board of Police Commissioners, Chief Daniel W. Isom, in his official and individual capacities, Lt. Col. Reggie L. Harris, in his official and individual capacities, Lt. Michael Muxo, in his official and individual capacities, Defendants - Appellants: Colleen M. Vetter, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, Saint Louis, MO.

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

OPINION

Page 1105

RILEY, Chief Judge.

Sergeant David Bonenberger, a white man, applied for the position of Assistant Academy Director of the St. Louis, Missouri Police Academy. Sergeant Angela Taylor, an African-American woman, was chosen. Sergeant Bonenberger sued a number of officials in the St. Louis Police Department, alleging race discrimination and conspiracy to discriminate. A jury found in Sergeant Bonenberger's favor on his claims against three of his superiors: Academy Director Lieutenant Michael Muxo, Lieutenant Colonel Reggie Harris, and then-Police Chief Daniel Isom.[1] They appeal the district court's[2] denial of their motion for judgment as a matter of law. Having jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND[3]

Sergeant Bonenberger was a long-time employee of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. In September 2010, the Department posted a job opening for Assistant Academy Director of the city's police academy. Upon learning of the opening, Sergeant Bonenberger contacted Lieutenant Muxo, " to get a feel for" whether he might be eligible for the position, despite not meeting the minimum qualifications of three years of supervisory experience and two years of teaching experience. Lieutenant Muxo told Sergeant Bonenberger " not to bother applying . . . because the job was going to a black female. . . . [I]t was out of his hands . . . and [his superior Lieutenant] Colonel Harris would make the decision."

The outgoing Assistant Academy Director, Sergeant Deborah Boelling, also discussed the position with Lieutenant Muxo. When they discussed who might be selected for the position, Lieutenant Muxo declared, " there no way [sic] they were going to put a white male in that position." Sergeant Boelling suggested Lieutenant Muxo consider Sergeant Bonenberger for the position. She inquired who Lieutenant Muxo was " interested in" and why, and he replied Sergeant Taylor was being considered because " Harris wanted a black female in that position."

Sergeant Bonenberger applied for the job anyway, " hop[ing] that maybe something would fall through with the person they had picked out for it." Despite Sergeant Bonenberger's interest and Sergeant Boelling's recommendation, Lieutenant Muxo recommended Sergeant Taylor to Lieutenant Colonel Harris, who in turn recommended her to Chief Isom.

Like Sergeant Bonenberger, Sergeant Taylor did not meet the minimum qualifications for the ...


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