Scott Milliman, Sr. v. William Prim

In the United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit ____________________ No. 17‐2687 SCOTT A. MILLIMAN, SR., Plaintiff‐Appellant, v. COUNTY OF MCHENRY, et al., Defendants‐Appellees. ____________________ Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Western Division. No. 3:11‐cv‐50361 — Frederick J. Kapala, Judge. ____________________ ARGUED MAY 31, 2018 — DECIDED JUNE 19, 2018 ____________________ Before FLAUM, MANION, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges. FLAUM, Circuit Judge. Plaintiff Scott A. Milliman, Sr. is a former McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy. While working for the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department (“MCSD”), Milliman gave a deposition in which he accused Sheriff Keith Nygren of corruption, bribery, securing fraudulent loans, trafficking illegal aliens, and soliciting the murder of two individuals. Based upon these allegations, Nygren and his subordinates referred Milliman to a psychologist to evaluate 2 No. 17‐2687 whether he was fit for duty. The psychologist determined that Milliman suffered from cognitive and psychological problems from a previous brain tumor in his right frontal lobe that rendered him unfit to perform his duties. MCSD terminated Milliman based upon the results of the fitness examination, the false allegations against Nygren, and violations of multiple MCSD General Orders. In response, Milliman sued Nygren, Nygren’s subordinates, and the county in federal district court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Milliman claimed that defendants violated his First Amendment rights by retaliating against him for making protected speech. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants on the ground that the fitness‐for‐ duty examination provided an independent, non‐retaliatory, non‐pretextual basis for Milliman’s termination. For the reasons below, we affirm. I. Background Milliman became a McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy on March 2, 1998. In December 2001, Milliman was diagnosed with brain cancer. On July 21, 2002, Milliman underwent brain surgery and went on extended medical leave to recover. Be‐ fore returning to work, Dr. Christopher Grote evaluated Mil‐ liman and determined that he was fit for duty. Milliman re‐ turned to MCSD on November 17, 2003. A. Milliman’s 2010 Deposition In November 2010, former MCSD Sheriff’s Deputy Zane Seipler brought a case against MCSD. The details of Seipler’s suit are not relevant here, other than the fact that Milliman gave a deposition in the course of the litigation, during which No. 17‐2687 3 he testified that Nygren and a local businessman, Jose Rivera, engaged in numerous criminal activities. First, Milliman maintained that Nygren participated in bribery schemes. For example, he testified that Rivera told him about a scheme in which Nygren and Rivera fixed non‐ valid‐driver’s‐license tickets for a $1,000 fee. Additionally, Milliman claimed Rivera told him that Nygren received a $10,000 bribe to help an individual reinstate a liquor license, and that same individual later contributed more than $5,000 cash to Nygren’s sheriff campaign. Next, Milliman testified that Rivera and Nygren tried to recruit him into a Small Business Administration (“SBA”) loan fraud scheme in 2001 or 2002. According to Milliman, Ri‐ vera told him they sent undocumented individuals to a woman named “Maria” at Elgin State Bank ...

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