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Motion for Summary Judgment

This is the text of the motion for summary judgment, which was filed by President Clinton's lawyers on Feb. 17 along with supporting documents. Read the Post story from Feb. 18.

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
WESTERN DIVISION


PAULA CORBIN JONES,
Plaintiff,

v.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON

and

DANNY FERGUSON,

Defendants.

CIVIL ACTION
NO. LR-C-94-290

Judge Susan Webber Wright

PRESIDENT CLINTON'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT


President Clinton, through undersigned counsel, hereby moves the Court pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(b) to enter judgment for him on all claims in plaintiff's First Amended Complaint. As fully demonstrated below and in the accompanying Memorandum and Exhibits, plaintiff has failed to adduce evidence showing the existence of essential elements of each of her claims. Therefore, President Clinton is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT


President Clinton adamantly denies that he sexually harassed Paula Corbin Jones at the Excelsior Hotel on May 8, 1991, or behaved improperly in any way towards her at any time. This factual dispute does not preclude summary judgment in this case however, because even as alleged by plaintiff, the purported encounter at the hotel is not actionable, and there has been a total failure of proof as to required elements of plaintiff's claims.

Plaintiff spent 99% of her discovery efforts attempting to substantiate rumors that President Clinton made sexual advances to other women. But she has failed to establish that she personally has a cause of action – even to the point of ignoring her own employment records in a case based on allegations of employment discrimination. Nothing could demonstrate more clearly that this suit had very little to do with redressing plaintiff's purported personal injury, and everything to do with using the compulsory processes of the Court in an attempt to humiliate and damage the President.

When the Supreme Court held that private civil litigation could go forward against a sitting President, the Court reposed confidence in federal judges to dispose of "frivolous and vexatious litigation at the pleading stage or on summary judgment," before such cases require the substantial involvement of the President. Clinton v. Jones, 117 S.Ct. 1636, 1651 (1997). It is time for this Court to act, for discovery has shown that plaintiff's claims are insupportable, and that this litigation has been pursued in other than good faith.

Count I - Section 1983 Sexual Harassment Claim


In Count I, plaintiff alleges that President Clinton, while Governor of Arkansas, subjected her to sexual harassment and thereby deprived her of her constitutional right to equal protection in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. President Clinton is entitled to judgment on this claim because plaintiff has failed to prove either quid pro quo or hostile environment sexual harassment.

To sustain a quid pro quo claim, a plaintiff must show that her purported refusal of a supervisor's alleged advances resulted in a tangible job detriment. Ms. Jones clearly failed to meet that burden here, because the record plainly demonstrates that President Clinton did not take any action to cause plaintiff to suffer any tangible job detriment. Plaintiff's counsel did not even bother to ask the President at his deposition whether he caused anyone to take any adverse job actions against plaintiff. But those witnesses who were asked about this – including plaintiff's three supervisors at the Arkansas Industrial Development Corporation – uniformly testified that he did not: they were wholly unaware of any incident between plaintiff and Mr. Clinton; they never discussed Ms. Jones with Governor Clinton; and neither the Governor nor anyone in his office ever asked them to take any action with respect to plaintiff, adverse or otherwise.

Plaintiff, moreover, did not in fact suffer any tangible job detriment. Notwithstanding that she has sued the President of the United States for employment discrimination, plaintiff admitted at her deposition that she filed suit without reviewing her employment records, and had not reviewed them since. Those records show – and Ms. Jones does not dispute – that she stayed in her AIDC job for nearly two years following the alleged incident, and left the job of her own volition; that she received merit raises and cost-of-living increases throughout that period; that her job classification was up-traded two months after the alleged encounter; that she received several satisfactory job reviews during her tenure at AIDC; and that she suffered no material adverse job action. For all these reasons, plaintiff's quid pro quo claim fails.

To the extent plaintiff's Section 1983 claim rests on allegations of hostile environment sexual harassment, it also fails. Even if one were to resolve all factual disputes in favor of plaintiff fox purposes of this Motion only, the alleged actions which plaintiff seeks to attribute to Mr. Clinton do not as a matter of law constitute severe or pervasive abusive conduct.

By plaintiff's own allegations, she encountered Governor Clinton only three times during her employment at AIDC – a total of less then 20 minutes over a two-year period. These alleged, sporadic encounters cannot possibly constitute the kind of sustained, severe and non-trivial harassment required to make out a hostile environment claim – let alone conduct that amounts to a deprivation of constitutional rights.

Even as described by plaintiff, the alleged encounter at the Excelsior Hotel does not constitute such abuse. By her own version of these alleged events, plaintiff was not threatened or coerced to go to the hotel room – she went voluntarily and was excited to meet the Governor, and was not induced by any promises related to her job. Most significantly, plaintiff herself alleges that the defendant did not use violence or make explicit threats; did not physically force sexual contact on her when she indicated she did not welcome his alleged advances; told her he did not want her to do anything she did not want to do; and she was allowed to leave the unlocked room as soon as she expressed a desire to do so. The conduct alleged here – an isolated advance rejected by plaintiff – is not actionable as hostile environment harassment.

The other alleged contacts with Governor Clinton are makeweight allegations. As described by plaintiff, they were brief, innocuous, chance encounters, during which the Governor purportedly complimented Ms. Jones. They could not by any objective standard constitute abusive conduct. Accordingly, plaintiff also fails to make out a hostile environment claim, and her Section 1983 claim must fail.

Count II - Civil Rights Conspiracy Claim


Count II asserts that Governor Clinton conspired with Arkansas State Trooper Danny Ferguson to deprive plaintiff of her equal protection rights, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3). To prevail on a Section 1985 claim, it is not enough to allege simply that the defendants conspired; the conspiracy must have succeeded in depriving plaintiff of her civil rights. Accordingly, if the Court agrees that plaintiff has failed to make out a prima facie equal protection claim under Section 1983, Count II must fail as well.

Additionally, the record is barren of any evidence that Trooper Ferguson and Governor Clinton entered into any agreement to violate plaintiff's civil rights. Both defendants deny that they forged such an agreement, and there is no evidence to the contrary. For both these reasons, summary judgment should be entered for President Clinton on this claim as well.

Count III - State Tort/Outrage Claim


The last remaining Count asserts that Governor Clinton is liable under Arkansas state law for the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress, or "outrage." President Clinton is entitled to summary judgment on this claim because plaintiff failed to adduce prima facie evidence of two independently essential elements – conduct that is outrageous as a matter of Arkansas law, and distress so severe no reasonable person could be expected to endure it. It is undisputed that the purported conduct was brief and isolated; did not result in any physical harm or objective symptoms of the requisite severe distress; and President Clinton had no knowledge of any special condition of plaintiff that would render her particularly susceptible to distress – indeed she had none.

Because this state law claim is part of an unprecedented lawsuit against a sitting President of the United States, it is not the case for a federal court sitting in diversity jurisdiction to expand Arkansas state law and permit such a frivolous claim to go forward against the President, when it would be rejected out of hand against anyone else. Accordingly, this baseless outrage claim should be dismissed with prejudice.

CONCLUSION


This Court has given plaintiff every opportunity to adduce evidence to survive summary judgment. Yet the record fails to support essential elements of her claims. We respectfully submit that if the Court were to permit such a veneer-thin case of sexual harassment and outrage as this to go forward against a sitting President, it would place future Presidents at risk for frivolous and vexatious litigation.

© Copyright 1997 Digital Ink Company

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