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Published by Legal Writer
Spanierman v. Hughes (D. Conn. Sep. 16, 2008)
Spanierman v. Hughes (D. Conn. Sep. 16, 2008)

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Published by: Legal Writer on Oct 13, 2008
Copyright:Public Domain


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The plaintiff, Jeffrey Spanierman (“the Plaintiff”) bringsthis action against the defendants, Abigail L. Hughes (“Hughes”),Anne Druzolowski (“Druzolowski”), and Lisa Hylwa (“Hylwa”)(collectively, “the Defendants”), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,alleging violations of his rights under the First and FourteenthAmendments to the United States Constitution. Now pending beforethe court is the Defendants’ motion for summary judgment (dkt.# 31) pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure(“Fed. R. Civ. P.”). For the reasons that hereafter follow, theDefendants’ motion for summary judgment
(dkt. # 31)
On January 2, 2003, the State of Connecticut, Department ofEducation (“DOE”) hired the Plaintiff to be an English teacher atEmmett O’Brien High School (“Emmett O’Brien”) in Ansonia,Connecticut. At all times relevant to this case: (1) Hughes was
-2-employed by the DOE as the Superintendent of the ConnecticutTechnical High School system, of which Emmett O’Brien is a part;(2) Druzolowski was employed by the DOE as the AssistantSuperintendent of the Connecticut Technical High School system;and (3) Hylwa was employed by the DOE as the principal of EmmettO’Brien. The Plaintiff was part of a union that had a collectivebargaining agreement (“the Agreement”) with the DOE. Under theAgreement, a teacher reaches tenure after completing four yearsof full-time service.This case involves the Plaintiff’s use of MySpace.com(“MySpace”), a website that allows its users to create an onlinecommunity where they can meet people. MySpace can be used toshare photographs, journals, and “interests” with mutual friends.People with MySpace accounts can create a “profile,” to whichthey can link their friends, and the owner of the profile caneither invite people to become friends, or other MySpace userscan ask the owner of the profile to become friends with the ownerof the profile. If the owner of a profile accepts anotherMySpace user as a friend, the friend’s profile picture is postedon the profile owner’s MySpace page, along with a link to thefriend’s MySpace profile. The owner of a profile can kickfriends off his profile, deleting that friend’s profile picturefrom the owner’s profile page. In addition, a profile owner cancompletely block other MySpace users from viewing his profile
-3-page. The owner of a profile can post blogs on his own profilepage, allow other MySpace users to post comments on his profilepage, or post comments on other users’ profile pages.The Plaintiff originally began to use MySpace becausestudents asked him to look at their MySpace pages. The Plaintiffsubsequently opened his own MySpace account, creating severaldifferent profiles. One of his profiles was called “Mr.Spiderman,” which he maintained on MySpace from the summer of2005 to the fall of 2005. The Plaintiff has testified that heused his MySpace account to communicate with students abouthomework, to learn more about the students so he could relate tothem better, and to conduct casual, non-school relateddiscussions.Elizabeth Michaud (“Michaud”) was a guidance counselor atEmmett O’Brien. In the fall of 2005, Michaud spoke withFrancesca Ford (“Ford”), a teacher at Emmett O’Brien, whoinformed Michaud that the Plaintiff had a profile on MySpace.Michaud alleges that she also received student complaints aboutthe Plaintiff’s profile page. After her conversation with Ford,Michaud viewed the Plaintiff’s “Mr. Spiderman” profile page,reviewing it for about a half hour. Michaud has testified thatshe was disturbed by what she saw on the Plaintiff’s profilepage. According to Michaud, the Plaintiff’s profile pageincluded a picture of the Plaintiff when he was ten years

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