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S'I'.ATE OF N01<.TH CAROLINA " :". ·.'·ni THE GENERAL 'C'Ot}RT OF ,mSTICE
SUPERIOR cotmT D1VJS101\
COUNTY OF ORANGE: • L
:: : FILE NUMBeR: . .!J;ftA/5/J$

PEGGY H. RILEY, .§ __\J1,.tl( _.


§ It '\
Plaintiff t s
§
V~3 .. § COMPLAINT
s (JURY TRIAL DE¥~ED)
,:JOSEPH MOODY BUCIU';ER, §
individually and in ~is §
official capacity as §
Chief Dist.rict.Judge of §
North Carolina Judicial §
District 15B, and THE STATE §
OF NORTH CAl<OIJINA, s
s
Defendants. §

The Plaintiff claims relief of ~he Defendants as follows:

, This action arises under the Constitution and laws of


Nort..:t.
Carolina and t.he United Sta::es.

7.. Plaintiff is a citizen and resident of Ori.'mge Co'unt y ,


North Carolina.

3. Defendant Joseph Moody Buckner ("Buckner") is a citizen


and resident of Orange County, North Carolina. Buokner is the
Chief District: Court Judge of Judicial Dist.rict. 153 in Orange
Courrr.y North Carol ina.
f

4. Defendant. State of North Cazo Li.na ("State") wa e


Plaintiff's joint employer with Buckner at the times of Buckner's
actions as al.leged in the Complaint and therefore is a necessary
and proper party to this action. The State of North Carolina is
not immune from suit for purposes of Plaintiff's claims pursuant to
4.2 U.S.C §2000e (Title VIr of the Civil Rights Act of :1.964, as
amended) .

STATEMENT OF THE FACTS

5. In December of 1994, Buckner was elected to the District


Court bench and continues to be employed by the SLate as a District
Court: ~!udge. At all times relevant to this action, Buckner acted
under color of state law.

6. Short Plaintiff began emp Loymerit. as a


Court Judicial Assistant for Buckner. In her position as
Judicial Assistam: IPlaim:iff was employee? by Buckner and the State
of North Carolina.

I. Following his election to the bench in 2994 and at: all


t.imes during Plaintiff's employment as his Judi.cial Assistant I

Buckner created a hostile and offensive working environfuent in the


judicial offices by engaging in conduct that waB offensive and
insulting to Plaintiff and that was inappropriate, impermissible,
out.r'aqeous , and demeaning toward female staff membe rs . .i.nc.Lud.i
nq
Plaintiff, as well as clerks and members of the Bar. This conduct
included, but is not limited to, the following:

2. During Plaintiff s employment, Budme:t" made se:>..'Ually


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suggestive and other inappropriate comments about f erna Le


employees and attorneys who had appeared in his court or
chambers;

b. During Plaintiff s employment! Buckner made


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",uggestive and other inappropriat~e comments to certain female


employees that were veiled propositions for sexual relations;

c. Buckner kept sexu.ally explicit materials, including


magazines and calendars, in his chambers. Instead of pIacing
these adult-oriented items in a secure place, Buckner chose to
display them in plain view of Plaintiff and other female
employees and staff members;

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d. Buckner constantly communicated to Plaintiff w i th
profanity and sug·gestive and sexually explicit. language; and,

e, In April of 1997, Buckner became furious with his


cornptrt.e r and was about t.o smash it into the wall. Plaintiff
attempted to explain to him that he could use his Dictaphone
instead of the computer to create documents that she could
then transcribe for his use. Buckner who at the time of
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Plaintiff's comments had been seated behind his desk. ran


around his desk. placed both hands on his genitals, while
fully clothed, and exclaimed, "I' 11 show you a god-damned
Dictaphone1".

B. Plaintiff was shocked, traumatized. and humiliated.


Having already suffered through a great deal of harassment { she
tendered her resignation.

9. Buckner's disgusting, immature, and inappropriate acts


created a hostile wo rk environment and atmosphere satu:r-atedv.d.th
sexual suggestion, innuendo, and proposition. His conduct was
corrupt and malicious and was outside and beyond the scope of his
authority to perform the duties of his office or otherwise to
exercise his discretion as a judicial officer.

10. At all times relevant to this act.i on , the state xnew vo.r
should have known of Buckner's offensive and Lnappropr-Lat.e conduct
and yet failed to undertake appropriate action with respect
thereto.

1.1. In November, 1937, Plaintiff filed a (~harge of


Discrimination with the Equal Employment opportunity Commission
bearing the caption Peggy H. Riley, ChargE: of Discrimination Filed
Under: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and numbered
t

141980074.

12. On September 1, 1998, Plaintiff received a right to sue


letter from the U.s. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division,
Emplo'yment Lit Section.

FIRST CLAIM FOR RELIEF: UNCONSTITUTIONAL DEPRIVATION OF


EQUAL PROTECTION
(FIFTH AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS AND 42 U.S.C. § 1983)

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13. The 12 are reall and
set forth herein.

of the Fifth and


Fourteenth Amendmentsto the United
t:he to be free from
not. to an

Buckner discriminated plail'ltiff s

female, because of her sex by her to the ae.xua.i


of herein.

16. Trl.t oonduct; D,E which ser-veri s-bsolute no


purpose, violated Plaintiff' is Constitut=iom.~l
be free from discrimination. Furthe:rTIJore, C\.

reasonable official act in Bucy-::ner'iS tion wou.Ld have known


and unde r at.ood that Buckner's acts Plaintiff's c
established federal Constitutional and ct at.u

17. BucJeD.er's.i.nt errt i onaI acts demonstrate t.hat; Buckner was


and cal indifferent to Plaintiff's itutional

18..
.As a result of Buck:ner 3 conduct
t
t P.la.intiff '\-\~a-s
and reCover from BuckneT
Ln an amount to be

SECOND CLAIM FOR RELIEF: 42 D.S.C. § 2000e et seg.


VII of the Civil Aet; of 1964, as amendlSo)

1 18 arereal.Lt:,<,),-:::", and
re£erenceas if £ul set forth herein*

a
for is; Buoknez" s conduct was severe
and to alter the
and to create an abus i.ve env.lrcnment. wi t.hi.n t.he o:fficeand

21. Furt he rmore, Buckner in this conduct


and in violation of federal laws sexual
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22. 1'11.(2 State of 'North Carolina, Plaintiff's joint
is liable for BucJcfler's atrocious conduc t due t.o its acts arid
omissions which include, but are not limited to:

a. Refusing and tailing to monitor Buckner in a manner


sufficient to discover his repeated and persistent violations
of Plaint.iff's federal st.atutory and Constitutional rights;

b. R.efusing and failing to protect PJ..ai!1t.iff and, other


female state employees working in close i.c'yto Buckner
p.r-ox.i.m
from his horrendous conduct; and,

c. e Lf or
Refusing and f a i ILnq to reprimand Buckner .i t.s
taking steps to seek some censure or other
punishment of Buckner from the appropriate aut.hori.ti.e.s so as
to prevent the cont Lnuat f.on of Buckner's s.exuaH y harassing
conduct.

23.As a result, Defendants caused Plaintiff to suffer damage


in the form of economic losses and emotional and
distress for which she should recover comperisator-y damaqe.s,

24. Plai.ntiff should also recover of Buckner punitive damages


in an amount to be determined by a jury.

THIRD CLAIM FOR RELIEF: INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF


EMOTIONAL DISTRESS

25. The preceding paragraphs 1 through 24 are realleged and


incorporated by reference as :i.f fully set forth herein.

26. Buckner engaged in extreme and outrageous conduct to f

exceeded all bounds usually tolerated by a decent


wit: conduct t.hat;
society.

2'1. Buckner'S conduct was int.ended to cause severe emotional


distress to Plaintiff.

28. Buckner'S conduct, in fact, did cause f3evere emotional


distress LO Plaint.iff for which she should recover damages in an
amount in excess of TEN THOUSAND AND NO/IOC DOLLARS ($1.0,000.00).

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FOURTH CLAIM FOR RELIEF: NEGLIGENT INFLICTION OF
EMOTIONAL DISTRESS

29. The preceding paragraphs 1 through 28 are realleged and


incorporated by reference as if fully set forth he re i.n .

30_ Buckner engaged in extreme and outrageous conduct to f

wit: conduct that exceeded all bounds usually tolerated by a decent


society.

31. Buckner was recklessly indifferent to the likeLihood his


actions would cause severe emotional distress to Plaintiff.

32 _ The conduct of Buckner in fact I did cause severe


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emotional distress to Plaintiff for wh i.ch she should recover


damages in an amount in excess of TEN TH01JSAND hND NO/loa DOLLlLl(S
($10,000.00) .

FIFTH CL..r..IM FOR RELIEF: WILLFUL AND WANTON I1ISCONDUCT

33. 'The preceding paragraphs l through 32 are and


incorporated by reference as if fully set. forth herein.

34. Buckner caused Plaintiff's damages through maliciousness,


willful and wanton misconduct, and gross negligence.

35. 'The acts of Buckner VIere malicious and part of a pattern


of willful and wanton misconduct that was directed t.owaz-dand
affected Plaintiff .i.nc Lud i.nq but not limited to engaging in
sexually explicit and suggestive talk, maintaining offensive and
sexually explicit materials in his chambers in public view,
throwing equipment and engaging in t.emper tantrums and ot.herwi.ae
acting in a manne r completely inconsistent with the duties and
respect associated with his position as a judicial official.

36. The conduct of Buckner complained of herein constitutes


willful and wanton misconduct and demonstrates intentional
disregard of and indifference to the rights and safety of others

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including Plaintiff. Buckner knew or should have- known that his
conduct was reasonably likely to result in injury, damage, or other
harm to Plaintiff.

37. The willful and wanton misconduct of Buckner was related


to the injuries of Plaintiff for which she should recover punitive
damages in excess of TEN THOUSAND k'\lD
NO/lOa DOLLARS (s i o ,000.00) .

v-JHER.EFORE I Plaintiff prays t.he Court:

=j and aeve.ra.l Iy , actual and compensatory damaqe s in an amount:


in excess of $10,000.00;

2. 'That Buckner be removed from .h i s position as a North


Carolina District: Court Judge or in the alternative that Buckner be
pezrnanerrt Ly enjoined from engaging in sexual harassment such as
complained of herein and that the State be enjoined to monitor
Buckner's compliance with aaid injunction upon reasonable terms set
by this Court;

3. That Plaint.iff have and recover of Buckner punitive


damages in an amount to be determined by a jury;

4. That Plaintiff be awarded reasonable attorneys' fees;

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5. That the costs of this action be taxed against
Defendants;

6. For a trial by jury i and,

7. For such other and further relief as the Court may deem
just and proper.
,.--..
This t.he z..!..:..2 'day
-" of
.- 'Nov
" emb
• en-
" ..•. , -1998 •

Vl\J.~ v-IINKLE r BUCK, WI~l)II I ST.~qlJh-:S


AND DAVIS P .."4..
I

BY: h"4.RRY McDEVITT


Attorneys for Plaintiff
11 North Market Street
Post Office Box 7376
Ashev~lle, NC 28802-7376
828/258-2991

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THARINGTON SNIT ~
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209 Fayetteville Street


Post Office Box 1151
Raleigh, NC 27602-1151
919/821-4f11

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