Author of Opinion: Justice Harris Hartz
Facts of the Case: The Appellant Miriam Leverington, a nurse at Memorial Hospital (Appellee 1) in Colorado Springs, was pulled over in December of 2008 by Officer Duaine Peters (Appellee 2). During the course of the stop Leverington told the police officer that she hoped he was never her patient. Officer Peters replied, "I hope not too, because maybe I'll call your supervisor and tell her you threatened me." The Police officer did in fact, within 5 days after the incident, report Leverington’s comment to Memorial Hospital. Memorial Hospital took disciplinary action against her for making the comment to the officer. They disciplined her by terminating Leverington from her job as a cardiac nurse there. Leverington sued the City (Memorial) and Officer Peters for violating her rights to free speech. Leverington claimed that the officer had been rude and that she was just trying to communicate she hoped that she never had to interact with him again. Lower courts dismissed her case stating that her first amendment rights had not been violated. The decision went to appeals.
The Question Before the Court: In the Leverington case the issues were, 1) whether getting fired from her job at Memorial Hospital for her comment to the police officer violated her first amendment right to free speech, and 2) whether Officer Peters had violated her rights by retaliating against her by telling her employer which in turn makes the officer liable for her termination.
The Holding: The court ruled that 1) Miriam Leverington’s comments to the police officer were not protected speech therefore her first amendment rights were not violated when the hospital fired her, and that 2) Officer Peters cannot be considered liable for the appellant’s termination.
The Reasoning Behind the Court’s Decision: The first question before the court on whether Leverington’s...