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Case Name Savage v. Pocomoke City EE-MD-0153
Docket / Court 1:16-cv-00201-JFM ( D. Md. )
State/Territory Maryland
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Washington Lawyers' Committee
Case Summary
This case is about racial discrimination in employment and retaliation for employees filing Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) complaints. Three Pocomoke City, Maryland police officers brought this lawsuit on January 20, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the District of ... read more >
This case is about racial discrimination in employment and retaliation for employees filing Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) complaints. Three Pocomoke City, Maryland police officers brought this lawsuit on January 20, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland against Pocomoke City, the Pocomoke City Police Department, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Maryland State Police, and a number of individuals associated with these organizations. Represented by private counsel, the Washington Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, and the ACLU of Maryland, the officers sued under 42 U.S.C §§ 1981, 1983, and 1985, and the Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.S.C. § 201) seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as front and back pay, damages for physical and psychological harms, and attorneys’ fees. The officers alleged that they were subjected to a hostile environment because of their race. They also alleged that two of the officers were fired in retaliation for filing EEOC complaints against their employer. The officers asserted that the racial discrimination and retaliation they suffered while employed by the Pocomoke City Police Department violated their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The case was assigned to Judge J. Frederick Motz. The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on January 27, 2016. On March 16, 2016, the officers filed an amended complaint, changing the named defendants. In mid-April of 2016, the defendants again moved to dismiss the complaint. In June, Judge Motz granted in part and denied in part the defendants’ motions to dismiss, holding that the plaintiffs had failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted against the defendants in their official capacities under U.S.C §§ 1981 and 1983 and against defendant Wells as to the plaintiffs’ retaliation claim. Two months later, Judge Motz also dismissed the claims against Worcester County State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby, holding that they were barred by the doctrine of absolute prosecutorial immunity.

On September 29, 2016, the officers filed a final amended complaint, adding the State of Maryland as a defendant. Shortly thereafter, the United States Department of Justice moved to intervene in the case, filing an intervenor complaint against Pocomoke City, the Worcester County Sheriff, and Maryland to enforce the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Before and after the intervenor complaint, the defendants again moved for dismissal or summary judgment. Judge Motz granted the United States’ motion to intervene and denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss on March 20, 2017, without clearly explaining his reasoning. On May 15, 2017, Judge Motz denied motions by both the State of Maryland and the plaintiffs for reconsideration of his earlier decisions on motions to dismiss or for summary judgment. Both parties sought an interlocutory appeal. The State of Maryland filed a motion to stay pending appeal, which was granted by Judge Motz on August 3.

On July 13, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s decision to dismiss the charges against Oglesby on the basis of prosecutorial immunity. 896 F.3d 260. It reversed the decision of the District Court with regard to the State of Maryland, holding that the plaintiff had failed to make a Title VII retaliation claim against the State’s Attorney and could therefore not make a Title VII claim against Oglesby’s employer. On remand, the case was reassigned to Judge Ellen L. Hollander, who promptly dismissed the Title VII complaint against the State of Maryland.

After almost two years of on and off settlement talks, two of the officers notified the court that they had accepted settlement offers from Pocomoke City on March 27, 2019. The judgment included a consent decree enforceable for three years requiring the Pocomoke City Police Department to refrain from engaging in racial discrimination and retaliatory practices, to adopt or amend written policies and procedures to ensure proper handling of discrimination complaints and prohibit retaliation against individuals raising or participating in the investigation or litigation of such claims, and to provide training, at its own cost, to its employees on these policies and procedures. In addition, the settlement awarded monetary damages in the amount of $450,001.00 to one of the plaintiffs and $200,001.00 to the other, in addition to attorneys’ fees. Defendant also agreed to provide neutral references for the officers to any potential employers.

A second settlement conference was held on May 2, 2019. On December 4, 2019, the remaining parties agreed to a settlement by consent decree. The terms of the December 2019 settlement are unknown at this time. As of September 30, 2020, the case is ongoing, but stayed pending consent motions to amend the earlier settlement.

Rachel Harrington - 09/30/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitoring
Neutral/Positive Reference
Post/Distribute Notice of Rights / EE Law
Provide antidiscrimination training
Retaliation Prohibition
Training
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-area
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Discipline
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Retaliation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219
Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) Department of Maryland State Police
Pocomoke City
Pocomoke City Police Department
Worcester County Sheriff's Office
Plaintiff Description Three officers employed or formerly employed by Pocomoke City Police Department who faced racial discrimination in employment.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Washington Lawyers' Committee
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2019 - 2022
Filed 01/20/2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Savage v. Pocomoke City
ACLU Maryland
Date: 2020
By: ACLU Maryland
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Officer’s Claims Against State Attorney Who Read Letter Containing Racial Slurs Out Loud Barred by Prosecutorial Immunity
Wolters Kluwer
Date: Jul. 17, 2018
By: Kathleen Kapusta
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Justice Department Seeks to Intervene in Lawsuit Alleging Race Discrimination and Retaliation by Pocomoke City, Maryland, the Worcester County Sheriff and the State Of Maryland
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Date: Oct. 19, 2016
By: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:16-cv-00201-ELH (D. Md.)
EE-MD-0153-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/14/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory Relief, Injunctive Relief, Damages, and Attorneys' Fees
EE-MD-0153-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 01/20/2016
Source: ACLU
Memo to Counsel Re: Franklin Savage, et al. v. Pocomoke City et al [ECF# 60] (D. Md.)
EE-MD-0153-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/21/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memo to Counsel Re: Franklin Savage, et al. v. Pocomoke City, et al. [ECF# 72] (D. Md.)
EE-MD-0153-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/19/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint for Declaratory Relief, Injunctive Relief, Damages, and Attorney's Fees [ECF# 80]
EE-MD-0153-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/29/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
United States' Motion to Intervene [ECF# 88 & 88-1 to 88-5]
EE-MD-0153-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/19/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memo to Counsel Re: Franklin Savage, et al. v. Pocomoke City et al [ECF# 154] (D. Md.)
EE-MD-0153-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/20/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
[Opinion] (896 F.3d 260)
EE-MD-0153-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | External Link | Detail
Date: 07/13/2018
Source: U.S. Court of Appeals website
Notice of Acceptance of Offers of Judgment [ECF# 281, 281-1 & 281-2]
EE-MD-0153-0008.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 03/27/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Coulson, J. Mark Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-9000
Floyd, Henry Franklin (D.S.C., Fourth Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0007
Gesner, Beth P. (D. Md.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-9000
Harris, Pamela Ann (Fourth Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0007
Hollander, Ellen Lipton (D. Md.) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-9000
Motz, J. Frederick (D. Md.) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0002 | EE-MD-0153-0003 | EE-MD-0153-0006
Wynn, James Andrew Jr. (Fourth Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0007
Plaintiff's Lawyers Broder, Moshe Benjamin (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0008 | EE-MD-0153-9000
Cohen, Madeline Jean (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0008 | EE-MD-0153-9000
Corkery, Dennis A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0001 | EE-MD-0153-0004 | EE-MD-0153-0008 | EE-MD-0153-9000
Fansler, Craig Gordon (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0004 | EE-MD-0153-9000
Given, Emily Adams (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-9000
Glenn, Christen Lauren B'anca (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0001 | EE-MD-0153-0004 | EE-MD-0153-9000
Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0005
Handley, Matthew K. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0001 | EE-MD-0153-0004 | EE-MD-0153-9000
Howard, Theodore Augustus (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0008 | EE-MD-0153-9000
Jeon, Deborah A. (Maryland) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0001 | EE-MD-0153-0004 | EE-MD-0153-0008 | EE-MD-0153-9000
Kennebrew, Delora L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0005
Kumar, Sonia (Maryland) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0004 | EE-MD-0153-0008 | EE-MD-0153-9000
Laughna, Jillian D (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0004 | EE-MD-0153-9000
Lawrence, Kathleen O. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0005 | EE-MD-0153-9000
Lemley, Charles C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0008 | EE-MD-0153-9000
Matavich, Margaret Elizabeth (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-9000
McBride, Andrew (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0001 | EE-MD-0153-0004 | EE-MD-0153-9000
Meyer, Valerie L (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-9000
Norwood, Kendra Perkins (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0008 | EE-MD-0153-9000
Phoenix, Candyce Danielle (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-9000
Sam, Dwayne D (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0001 | EE-MD-0153-0004 | EE-MD-0153-9000
Schellenberg, Kali J (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-9000
Schwabauer, Barbara A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0005 | EE-MD-0153-9000
Smith, Craig Michael (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0001 | EE-MD-0153-0004 | EE-MD-0153-0008 | EE-MD-0153-9000
Valderrama, Hillary K (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-9000
Walsh, Brian Gerard (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0004 | EE-MD-0153-0008 | EE-MD-0153-9000
Woodard, Karen D. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0005 | EE-MD-0153-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Feldstein, Mira Aviv (Maryland) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-9000
Karp, Daniel (Maryland) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-0008 | EE-MD-0153-9000
Levine, Jason Lee (Maryland) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-9000
Levitan, Ronald M (Maryland) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-9000
Marshall, Genevieve Goodrow (Maryland) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-9000
Peter, Matthew Douglas (Maryland) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-9000
Pickus, Philip M. (Maryland) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-9000
Rynd, Michael Brooks (Maryland) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-9000
Siff, Ephraim R (Maryland) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-9000
Zacarias, Carl N (Maryland) show/hide docs
EE-MD-0153-9000

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