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PALUMBO v. ORR

January 25, 1984

ANGELA PALUMBO, Plaintiff,
v.
SAMUEL J. ORR, District Attorney of MERCER COUNTY, CHARLES HERSH, Assistant D.A., JAMES EPSTEIN, Assistant D.A., COUNTY OF MERCER; WILLIAM C. MIFSUD, JAMES KRAMER, of the Pennsylvania State Police; FRANK WHITE, EDWARD TOMKO and CITY OF SHARON, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SIMMONS

 I.

 Count 1 of the Amended Complaint seeks compensatory and punitive damages against Defendants for the intentional state law tort of interference with right to freedom of association, defamation of character, and interference with economic rights.

 Count 2 of the Amended Complaint alleges the negligence of Defendants and employees in discharging Plaintiff from employment, and defamation.

 Count 3 of the Amended Complaint alleges the breach of an employment agreement.

 Count 4 of the Amended Complaint alleges a violation of the right to freedom of association as guaranteed by the First Amendment and seeks relief under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985(3).

 Defendants have filed numerous Motions to Dismiss which are the subject of this Opinion.

 II.

 Plaintiff claims that the Defendants Orr, Epstein, and Hersh, who allegedly discharged Plaintiff; and the County of Mercer, which allegedly approved and ratified the action of the District Attorney; interfered with Plaintiff's right of association with Attorney Palmer and Police Officer Lenzi, by discharging her on June 1, 1981, which discharge was solely motivated by Defendants' desire to punish her for her association with Palmer and Lenzi, which association was proper, lawful, and not subject to direction or control by Defendants. It is claimed that Defendants Orr, Epstein and Hersh procured plaintiff's discharge to punish her for that association; that Defendant County of Mercer ratified and confirmed Defendants' actions; and that Defendants Mifsud, Kramer, Tomko and White participated in an unwarranted interrogation of Plaintiff which was part of the plan to discharge Plaintiff; and Defendant City of Sharon ratified and confirmed the actions of White and Tomko. Plaintiff further charges that Defendants conspired with each other for the purpose of depriving Plaintiff of the equal protection of laws and equal privileges and immunities under the law, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3).

 The following facts are alleged as the basis for Plaintiff's claims:

 According to the allegations contained in the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff was hired in 1974 by the County of Mercer as a clerk/typist in the Tax Assessment Office. On or about February 1977, Plaintiff became aware of a job as a Secretary in the District Attorney's office for the County of Mercer, and was hired for such position, and was responsible to Defendants Orr, Epstein and Hersh.

 On or about February, 1980, Defendant Hersh worked part time for the District Attorney and maintained a private law office. Plaintiff performed messenger services for Hersh and the District Attorney in bringing materials between the two locations.

 During Plaintiff's employment, she became socially and professionally acquainted with Frances Palmer, an Assistant District Attorney and prosecutor of narcotics cases, and Gary Lenzi, a police officer of Sharon, Pennsylvania, assigned to the Mercer County Narcotics Investigation Unit. Such association, it is alleged, had no impact on Plaintiff's work as a secretary in the District Attorney's office, but was the basis of her discharge.


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