CINCINNATI — A federal judge has denied parts of a request to dismiss a case brought against Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and former City Manager Harry Black.
Six of the 12 claims brought against Cranley and Black by Cincinnati Police Capt. Jeff Butler were dismissed Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett. Barrett did not rule, however, on whether to grant qualified immunity to either of the defendants at this stage of the case.
The suit claims Black and Cranley "instructed" prominent members of the Black community to contact media outlets and make statements to damage Butler's image, as well as "arranged to have materials delivered" to local media meant to "establish that Captain Butler was a racist and a bad cop."
Butler brought defamation claims against both Cranley and Black for these statements, and Barrett did not dismiss these claims. The stand-alone defamation claim against Black, however, was dismissed.
Butler's claim of free speech violations was not dismissed either. "Plaintiff alleges plausible First Amendment retaliation violations," Barrett writes.
However, Butler also alleged that both Cranley and Black abused their power, but this claim was denied by Barrett at the state level.
"Ohio law does not recognize a standalone abuse of power claim," Barrett writes. Barrett then cites Peters v. Ohio Dept. of Nat. Res. which said, “[N]o Ohio court has ever recognized the existence of the tort of ‘abuse of power.’”
A settlement conference is set for September 2. The final pretrial conference will be in December.
You can read the full ruling below: