procedures before it can fire its employees absent express legislative authorization. In Scott v. Philadelphia Parking Authority, 402 Pa. 151, 166 A.2d 278 (1960), the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania specifically stated that that decision did not concern contracts for work on particular and specific projects being carried out by a public body which might necessitate the temporary services of some specialist. See Beloff v. Margiotti, 328 Pa. 432, 197 A. 223 (1938). In Farr v. Chesney, 437 F. Supp. 521, 529 (M.D. Pa. 1977), this Court held that a governmental body could enter into a binding contract with a sex therapist who was working for that body on a part-time basis for a limited period of time on specific projects. In his complaint Covert contends that he was a permanent employee. The Court has some doubt that an individual who was working on a full-time basis for a two-year period for a public authority can be classified as a specialist working on a particular project. But it cannot conclude that Covert will be unable to establish that he fits within this exception. More information concerning the scope and nature of his employment is required. Consequently, Covert has set forth a property interest pursuant to the law of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In the light of the foregoing, the Defendants' motion to dismiss Covert's complaint because he has not set forth a property interest pursuant to state law will be denied.
The Defendants also contend that the amended complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted concerning the deprivation of any liberty interest of the Plaintiff that would require the procedural protections of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because the amended complaint contains no allegation that the Defendants have created and disseminated a false and defamatory impression about Covert in connection with his termination or even that there was any public disclosure of the reasons for Covert's discharge. In Bishop v. Wood, 426 U.S. 341, 48 L. Ed. 2d 684, 96 S. Ct. 2074 (1976), the Supreme Court held that Bishop's liberty interests were not implicated by his termination because the reasons for discontinuing him, although potentially damaging to his professional reputation, were never made public. Bagby v. Beal, 439 F. Supp. 1257, 1260 (M.D. Pa. 1977); Ross v. Pennsylvania State University, et al., 445 F. Supp. 147 (M.D. Pa. 1978). Covert contends in para. 38 of his amended complaint that the Defendant Richard C. Galway, then executive director of the Redevelopment Authority, on July 23, 1976 told the news media that Covert had not been given permission to enter the property from which he allegedly took certain items. This statement, according to the complaint, was published in the Harrisburg Patriot newspaper. Paragraph 39 of Covert's complaint contends that this statement was false and injured the reputation of Covert. Contrary to the contention of the Defendants, Covert does not have to allege his damages in his complaint. As to Galway, Covert has met the standards of Bishop. But he does not state in his amended complaint that any of the other Defendants publicized the reasons for his termination or suspension.
According to Covert, the action of the Redevelopment Authority and its members and officers in dismissing him when widespread publicity had been given to his arrest for allegedly taking items from the property belonging to the Redevelopment Authority created the implication that he had been dismissed because he had committed a theft. (Plaintiff's amended complaint para. 63). This does not meet the standard set forth in Bishop. Covert does not allege that the Defendants, except for Galway, publicized the reasons for his dismissal. The Defendants cannot be liable pursuant to the liberty clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because of the inferences which other people might draw from their actions. Nowhere in the complaint does Covert state that Galway's public statement of the reason for his dismissal was at the direction of the Redevelopment Authority or any of the other Defendants. Covert contends that none of the Defendants did anything to refute the strong implication that Covert had been dismissed because he had committed a theft. There is no constitutional duty requiring the Defendants to have attempted to prevent the public from drawing certain conclusions as a result of the dismissal. Public officials cannot be held liable because of the view that certain individuals in the community form as a result of certain occurrences. The case of Cox v. Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, 551 F.2d 555 (4th Cir. 1976) does not support Covert's contention that the Defendants are liable for a violation of his liberty rights pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment because they allowed the implication to arise that he was dismissed for theft. Cox, an employee of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, was dismissed. Some members of the Commission publicly linked her firing directly with an investigation of financial wrongdoing at the Commission. This is not the factual situation which Covert has set forth in his complaint. He has not pled that any members of the Redevelopment Authority publicly stated the reasons for his dismissal.
The statement of A. Lynn Corcelius, Solicitor for the Redevelopment Authority, that Covert was dismissed because it was believed that his actions placed the Authority in a disreputable light certainly could have resulted in damaging Covert's reputation. But Corcelius is not a defendant in this case. Covert has not alleged in his complaint that Corcelius spoke at the direction of any of the Defendants. Public officials cannot be held liable pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on the basis of respondeat superior. Hampton v. Holmesburg Prison Officials, 546 F.2d 1077, 1082 (3d Cir. 1976); Culp v. Devlin, 437 F. Supp. 20 (E.D. Pa. 1977). The same standard should also apply to Covert's action brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, the general federal question statute. In Paton v. LaPrade, 524 F.2d 862, 871 (3d Cir. 1975), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit stated that the method for determining injuries involved in § 1983 litigation should be applicable to § 1331 actions concerning Constitutional violations. The identical approach should be utilized concerning respondeat superior liability. In addition, because a public official is not an employer, he cannot be liable for the actions of a subordinate on the basis of respondeat superior. Culp v. Devlin, 437 F. Supp. 20 (E.D. Pa. 1977).
In para. 51 of his amended complaint, Covert asserts that between the evening of September 21, 1976 and October 8, 1976, one or more of the members of the Redevelopment Authority present at the meeting of that body on September 21, 1976 disclosed Covert's dismissal to third persons. Covert does not contend that whoever disclosed the dismissal set forth the reasons for that action. Consequently, the standard of Bishop v. Wood has not been met. For the same reason, Covert's allegation in para. 41 of his amended complaint that sometime between the evening of July 20, 1976 and July 23, 1976 one or more of the members of the Redevelopment Authority present at the meeting of July 20, 1976 disclosed Covert's suspension to third persons fails to meet the requirement of Bishop.
In the light of the foregoing, the Court will grant the Defendants' motion to dismiss the portion of the Plaintiff's complaint which alleges a violation of the liberty clause of the Fourteenth Amendment except as it relates to Galway.
Next, the Defendants contend that the amended complaint fails to state a cause of action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Redevelopment Authority because it is not a person within the meaning of the statute. In Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167, 5 L. Ed. 2d 492, 81 S. Ct. 473 (1961), the United States Supreme Court held that a municipality is not a person for the purposes of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. No reason exists to distinguish between a municipality and a county redevelopment authority. In Kurz v. State of Michigan, 548 F.2d 172 (6th Cir. 1977), the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit concluded that a county is not a person under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Moor v. County of Alameda, 411 U.S. 693, 700, 36 L. Ed. 2d 596, 93 S. Ct. 1785 (1973); Accord Tilli v. County of Northampton, 370 F. Supp. 459 (E.D. Pa. 1974); Schrank v. Bliss, 412 F. Supp. 28, 39 (M.D. Fla. 1976); Boles v. Fox, 403 F. Supp. 253 (E.D. Tenn. 1975). In Diamond v. Coleman, 395 F. Supp. 429 (S.D. Ga.1975), the Court held that a county school board is not a person pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In Dodson v. Franklin County Prison Board, Civil No. 78-76 (M.D. Pa. 1978) Chief Judge Nealon stated that a county prison board is not a person under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The only federal cases which Covert cites in support of his proposition that a county authority is a person under § 1983, are three cases of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Escalera v. New York City Housing Authority, 425 F.2d 853 (2d Cir. 1970), cert. denied, 400 U.S. 853, 27 L. Ed. 2d 91, 91 S. Ct. 54 (1971), Holmes v. New York City Housing Authority, 398 F.2d 262 (2d Cir. 1968), and Forman v. Community Services, Inc., 500 F.2d 1246 (2d Cir. 1974). These cases are based on distinctions under New York law between the liabilities of municipal bodies and state agencies. That analysis is not pertinent because the determination of who is a person pursuant to § 1983 must be made pursuant to federal law. In addition, New York law does not apply to Covert's claim because it arose within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Consequently, the Defendants' motion to dismiss the Plaintiff's complaint to the extent that it sets forth a cause of action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Redevelopment Authority of the County of Huntingdon is granted. The Redevelopment Authority is still a defendant in this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The Defendants' motion does not request that this claim be dismissed. The Court is in no way indicating any opinion as to whether a cause of action pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment can be stated pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 against the Redevelopment Authority. See Mahone v. Waddle, 564 F.2d 1018, 1023 (3d Cir. 1977).
Next, the Defendants contend that the amended complaint fails to state a cause of action against the Defendants Boucher, Krut, Donahey, and Shope, because it contains no allegation concerning conduct on their part which violates the rights of Covert. Covert maintains that in his complaint he stated that Boucher refused to act when he knew or should have known that inaction would contribute to the injuries to Covert's good name and reputation and deprive him of his liberty interest without due process of law. Because the Court has dismissed the liberty interest claim against all of the Defendants except Galway and since Covert's only cause of action against Boucher appears to be pursuant to his alleged denial of his liberty interest, the Court will grant the Defendants' motion to dismiss Boucher from this complaint insofar as the complaint seeks damages from him. The complaint sets forth no facts showing that Boucher deprived Covert of property without due process. A defendant's personal involvement must be alleged in order to state a cause of action under § 1983. Fialkowski v. Shapp, 405 F. Supp. 946 (E.D. Pa. 1975). Covert has failed to plead that Boucher was personally involved in depriving him of property without due process. Boucher will remain a defendant in this case as to any claims for equitable relief. Defendants concede that he may be a necessary party in this action for the purposes of equitable relief. Covert seeks only equitable relief from the Defendants Krut, Donahey, and Shope. The Defendants concede that these three individuals may be necessary parties in this action for the purpose of equitable relief. Consequently, the Court will deny the Defendants' motion to dismiss Krut, Donahey, and Shope from this complaint.
Fifth, Defendants maintain that the Plaintiff is not entitled to damages for injuries to his reputation in the community, for embarrassment, humiliation, and mental and emotional distress. The Court believes that this contention is premature. If Covert fails to prevail concerning liability, the Court will never reach the damage issue. If Covert prevails concerning liability, the Defendants can present this argument during the damage phase of the trial. Consequently, the Court will deny the Defendants' motion to dismiss Covert's claims for damages for injuries to his reputation in the community, for embarrassment, humiliation, and mental and emotional distress.
In their motion to dismiss, the Defendants also contend that the amended complaint should be dismissed because the Defendants are high public officials and are immune and because the amended complaint fails to allege that the Defendants acted other than in good faith. The Defendants have not supported these points in their brief. Consequently, the Court will deny the motion to dismiss on these grounds. In addition, the Court believes that both of these claims lack any merit because pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, high public officials do not have absolute immunity and because good faith is a defense which the Defendants must plead and establish by a preponderance of the evidence.
An appropriate order will be entered.
MUIR, U.S. District Judge. [EDITOR'S NOTE: The following court-provided text does not appear at this cite in 447 F. Supp.]
1. Covert's amended complaint to the extent that it sets forth a cause of action for violation of his liberty interest pursuant to the Fourteenth Amndment of the United States Constitution against the Defendants Boucher, Pheasant, Suders, Welch, Grimminger, Glass, Krut, Shope, and Donahey is dismissed.
2. Covert's claim against the Redevelopment Authority of the County of Huntingdon pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is dismissed.
3. Covert's claim against Boucher for money damages is dismissed.
4. The Defendants' motion to dismiss Covert's amended complaint because he has failed to set forth a property interest pursuant to the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is denied.
5.Defendants' motion to dismiss Covert's amended complaint because the Defendants are high public officials and because the Plaintiff has not alleged good faith in his complaint is denied.
5. Defendants' motion to dismiss the amended complaint insofar as it requests monetary damages from Shope, Krut, and Donahey, is denied.
6. Defendants' motion to dismiss the original complaint is denied.
7. Defendants' motion to dismiss Covert's claim for damages for injury to reputation in the community, for embarrassment, humiliation and mental and emotional distress is denied.
MUIR, U.S. District Judge
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