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BAGBY v. BEAL

July 20, 1978

Elizabeth V. BAGBY, Plaintiff,
v.
Frank S. BEAL, Individually and in his official capacity as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MUIR

I. Introduction.

Elizabeth V. Bagby, a practical nurse licensed under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, (LPN) filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the Defendants violated her constitutional rights when they suspended her for 10 days without pay from her position as an LPN I at the South Mountain Restoration Center, a geriatric restoration institution operated by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. The case was tried before the undersigned judge sitting with an advisory jury from July 10 through July 12, 1978. The Court received testimony on the liability phase of the case and, following the close of testimony, submitted four questions to the advisory jury relating to whether Defendants Donald E. Downs and Thomas F. Brubaker acted in good faith when they decided to suspend Ms. Bagby. Following the Court's findings that both Defendants acted in good faith, a finding which was also reached by the advisory jury, and that damages could not be assessed against them in their individual capacity but that Bagby's constitutional rights had been violated, the Court heard oral argument relating to the question of what equitable remedies, if any, should be awarded. The following are the court's findings of fact, discussion, and conclusions of law.

 II. Findings of Fact.

 1. The Plaintiff, Elizabeth V. Bagby, is and was at all relevant times a licensed practical nurse (LPN) under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Undisputed)

 2. Defendant Frank S. Beal was Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) from January 6, 1975 to February 15, 1978. (Undisputed)

 3. Defendant Aldo Colautti is the present Secretary of DPW, having succeeded Defendant Beal in office on or about February 16, 1978. (Undisputed)

 5. Defendant Thomas F. Brubaker is and was at all relevant times the Personnel Officer at South Mountain. (Undisputed)

 6. Defendant Richard A. Rosenberry was the Director of the Pennsylvania State Civil Service Commission (Commission) from November 18, 1968 to January 5, 1977. (Undisputed)

 7. Defendant John E. Millett is Defendant Rosenberry's successor in office, having assumed the position and duties of Director of the Commission on or about January 6, 1977. (Undisputed)

 8. Defendant John A. M. McCarthy is and was at all times relevant the Chairman of the Commission. (Undisputed)

 9. Defendant Ethel S. Barnett is and was at all relevant times a Commissioner of the Commission. (Undisputed)

 10. Defendant Mary D. Barnes is a Commissioner of the Commission, having assumed that position on or about December 8, 1976. (Undisputed)

 11. All of the Defendants are or were officials of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and acted under the color of its laws and in their official capacities. (Undisputed)

 12. On March 15, 1976, Plaintiff was appointed to an LPN I position in the Pennsylvania State Civil Service, probationary status, at South Mountain Restoration Center, a geriatric restoration facility under the operation and control of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. (Undisputed)

 13. Plaintiff remained on probationary status for the entire period relevant to this action. (Undisputed)

 14. Plaintiff was a member of the class of employees subject to and covered by a Collective Bargaining Agreement entered into between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). (Undisputed)

 15. On or about August 9, 1976, five of plaintiff's co-workers, Donna Thompson, Beryl Myers, Shirley Miller, Mary Ann Kneasel and Suzanna Shultz, made oral accusations against plaintiff of theft of state property.

 16. Upon arriving at work at South Mountain on September 9, 1976, at or about 2:30 p.m., plaintiff was told to and did report to an office designated by Defendant Brubaker for a meeting concerning the facts surrounding allegations against her of theft of state property. (Undisputed)

 17. In addition to the plaintiff, the following individuals were present at the September 9, meeting;

 
Mrs. Dorothy Ridge, Director of Nursing;
 
Mrs. Shirley Sites, R.N., Shift Supervisor;
 
Mrs. Shirley M. Miller, Nursing Assistant I;
 
Ms. Mary Anne Kneasel, Nursing Assistant I;
 
Mrs. Donna Thompson, Nursing Assistant I;
 
Mrs. Beryl R. Myers, Nursing Assistant I;
 
Mrs. Bonnie Marpoe, LPN I, President of AFSCME's Local # 2355
 
(Undisputed)

 18. The meeting began at or about 2:50 p.m.

 19. Plaintiff was not informed of the purpose of the meeting until she arrived at the designated office. Plaintiff's first notice of any disciplinary proceedings or charges against her was an oral notice given at said meeting.

 20. Defendant Brubaker informed plaintiff that the meeting was convened to determine the facts surrounding the allegations that plaintiff had ...


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