Gantt v. Security, USA, Inc. 56 F.3d 547 (4th Cir. 2004), cert. denied, 543 U.S. __, resulting in a
$2.25 million jury award for a female security guard whose supervisor aided and abetting a
non-employee in the sexual harassment, armed assault in her workplace. The plaintiff,
Dominique Gantt, was kidnapped from her workplace by her
ex-boyfriend, Gary Sheppard, in a choke hold, with a shotgun against her chin. He
held her captive for six hours, through three states, raped her and
repeatedly threatened to kill her.
Gantt v. Security USA was the cover story in the Maryland Daily Record,
Legal Section, on July 30, 2004. It has received widespread coverage
which can be accessed, in large part, through the internet. See National
Crime Victim's Bar Association Press Release, at www.ncdsv.
The District Court, via Judge Deborah Chasanow, granted summary
judgment to Security USA. Ms. Gantt appealed. Ms. Martin established
that Ms. Gantt could sue her employer for intentional infliction of
emotional distress, as an exception to the Maryland Workers'
Compensation Act. Ms. Gantt's supervisor, Sgt. Claggett, intended to
injure Ms. Gantt by forwarding phone calls from Sheppard to her, at
work, in violation of a protective order, and forcing Ms. Gantt to assume
an outside Post to make her accessible to him.
Ms. Gantt's 4th Circuit Appellate Brief is reprinted at GanttBrief4thCir. and her Reply Brief is reprinted at
Each of the three judges on the 4th Circuit Panel wrote his or her own opinion regarding the case. All of
the judges affirmed the dismissal of Ms. Gantt's sexual harassment claims, but they could not agree on her
intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. Judge Luttig would have permitted the jury to hear the
entire case, as our firm argued, since Security USA's highest level manager on the day of the attack, Sgt.
Claggett, intended to cause Ms. Gantt harm by forcing her to confront Gary Sheppard, who was
threatening to kill her. The kidnapping, rape and continued assaults, through 3 states, over 6 hours, all
flowed from Claggett's intentional act and should have constituted an exception from Workers'
Compensation Law, which prohibits an employee from suing an employer for injuries occurring on the job,
unless the injuries result from an intentional act by the employer or its agents. Judge Neimeyer would have
affirmed summary judgment for Security USA, based on Judge Chasanow's holding that Claggett's
conduct did not fall under the Workers' Compensation exception because Claggett did not specifically
intend for Gary Sheppard to kidnap or rape her -- although Sgt. Clagget was his friend and co-worker for
another company, and admitted that Sheppard had told her that he wanted to kill Ms. Gantt, his estranged
wife, his own children and himself. Judge Motz' Opinion became the Opinion of the Court because each
of the other two judges concurred in part of it. This plurality Opinion held that Ms. Gantt could sue
Security USA for the emotional distress that she experienced for the 15 minutes that she was stationed at
the outside Post, in fear that Sheppard would come and attack her; accordingly, we were only allowed to
tell the jury the story to the point that Sheppard showed up on her post and accosted her with the shot
gun. We were not permitted to tell the jury that Sheppard kidnapped or raped her, or held her captive for 6
hours, threatening to kill her.
A coalition of Women's Organizations and Victim's Rights Advocates filed an Amicus Curiae Brief before
the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the arguments made by Ms. Martin in her Ms. Gantt's Petition for
Certiorari (review by the Supreme Court).
This case could have been filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as a sex
discrimination/sexual harassment case, since Ms. Gantt's supervisor created and maintained a hostile work
environment for her, on the basis of sex, by allowing her ex-boyfriend to sexually harass her at work. See
discussion of Martin v. Howard University and Alice Gresham Bullock, Unfortunately, Ms. Gantt's
original attorney did not recognize this case as a sexual harassment case and did not timely file a charge
with the EEOC. Ms. Gantt's right to file under Title VII or comparable Maryland Human Rights Law was
therefore lost, due to a failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Ms. Martin attempted to add a claim of
sexual harassment, based on the Equal Protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution, since Security USA
is a government contractor and Ms. Gantt was stationed at a federal building, where she was harassed,
assaulted and kidnapped. While the case was pending, the Supreme Court decided a case, Correctional
Services v. Malesko, 534 U.S. 61 (2001), that narrowed the standing law of more than thirty years, in
Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). Malesko, decided by a divided Court, held that
private corporations could not be held liable for Constitutional violations even where they performed duties
that would constitute "state action," or acted "under color of law."
The Gantt case illustrates the importance of retaining an attorney who has expertise with the specific legal
issues involved in the cause of action from the beginning of a lawsuit and before the deadline for filing
administrative claims expires. A charge must be filed with the EEOC within 180 days of the discriminatory
conduct, of 300 days where the EEOC has a Work Sharing Agreement with the applicable state or local
Fair Employment Practice Agency.
It also illustrates the need for clarification of "intentional" conduct that is exempt from Workers'
Compensation Law in Maryland. Under the plurality decision in Gantt, the only injuries that are currently
exempt from the Workers' Compensation Law bar to an employee suing his or her employer for injuries
sustained on the job are injuries that were caused by acts of an employer's agent that resulted in the precise
injuries intended by that agent.
U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit Opinion, pacer.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinion.pdf/031033.P.pdf
U.S Supreme Court Petition for Writ of Certiorari
National Association of Women, www.abanet.org/nawl/news/release_gant.html
IPMA Assessment Council News (PAGE 8)
Employment Law Briefing (page 6)
4th Circuit Revives Part of Worker's Intentionally Inflicted
Dykema Labor New
Maryland Daily Record Photo
Ms. Gantt on left,
Ms. Martin on right