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Shands v. City of Kennett

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
993 F.2d 1337 (1993)


Mr. Shands and other volunteer firemen (plaintiffs) asked a member of the city council (defendant) to block the appointment of a new volunteer fireman requested by the Fire Chief (defendant) and to appoint one of their friends instead. The city council dismissed the plaintiffs from their position as firemen on the grounds of insubordination and misconduct. After the plaintiffs challenged their dismissals, the city council held a special closed session to consider the discharges, Witnesses testified and the firemen were allowed to question witnesses and provide their own statements during this session. Upon finding sufficient basis the dismissals, the city council issued a release stating that the firemen were discharged for personnel reasons, not because of any financial misdealings, illegal activities, or activities involving moral turpitude. One of the city officials also spoke with the news media, informing reporters that the plaintiffs had been discharged for personnel reasons and matters involving insubordination and misconduct. The plaintiffs sued, arguing that the defendants made false and stigmatizing statements to the news media in violation of their due process liberty interests. They also took the position that the defendants violated their procedural due process rights by failing to providing a fair and meaningful hearing for them to publicly clear their names. The district court granted the defendants’ motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The plaintiffs appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Wollman, J.)

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