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Factual Allegations Alleging Bad Faith is Sufficient to Withstand Motion to Dismiss Based on Statutory Immunity

In the case of Ingram v. Regano, Case No. 21-3342 (6th Cir. Feb. 3, 2022), an appellate court held that a motion to dismiss is improper if a plaintiff’s complaint contains sufficient factual allegations suggesting that school official acted in bad faith to fall within the exceptions to immunity under Ohio Revised Code § 2744.03.  A complaint need not overcome summary judgment at the initial pleading stage.

In this case, the employee alleged in her complaint that the school officials acted in bad faith and unlawfully retaliated against her for filing a complaint for sexual harassment, in that the superintendent and assistant superintendent failed to recuse themselves from investigating her retaliation complaint even though they were named as respondents, that the superintendent told the assistant superintendent to “take care of” the investigation, and that both actively participated in the investigation despite acknowledging they should not have been involved. The school officials argued that her complaint contained only naked conclusions that they acted with malice or with bad faith and contained no allegations that the school officials made any comments or took any action which explicitly showed their ill will toward her.  The appellate court agreed with the employee.

In support of its decision in favor of the employee, the appellate court explained that at the initial pleading stage, there is not a requirement for the employee to affirmatively demonstrate an immunity exception, and the employee’s complaint is filled with factual allegations that suggest the school officials acted in bad faith and thus invoked the exception to statutory immunity.

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

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