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PEALER v. SECRETARY OF AGRIC.

December 4, 1985

THOMAS C. PEALER, Plaintiff
v.
SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, PENROSE HALLOWELL, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CALDWELL

William W. Caldwell, United States District Judge.

 MEMORANDUM

 I. Introduction.

 The remaining defendants in this action, Penrose Hallowell, the former Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture, and other officials and employees of the Department of Agriculture, have filed a motion for summary judgment. *fn1" Also pending is plaintiff's motion to file a reply brief to defendants' reply brief in support of defendants' motion. Plaintiff, Thomas C. Pealer's, complaint under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 alleges violations of his first amendment rights to freedom of speech and of association as well as violations of his fourteenth amendment rights to due process and equal protection. *fn2" The complaint arises from Pealer's discharge from his employment as a supervisor of a Department maintenance crew. Pealer claims he was fired because he refused to make contributions to the Republican party and because he reported the improper use of state property.

 II. Background.

 From the pleadings, depositions and affidavits of record, the following is the background of this litigation. The Department hired plaintiff on August 5, 1981, as a building maintenance foreman in charge of an eight man crew responsible for maintaining the Summerdale Laboratories and Region VI office of the Department of Agriculture. Pealer was an at-will employee. He was not protected by a union contract or civil service. (Hallowell affidavit, paragraph 13; Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Material Fact and plaintiff's Answer thereto, paragraph 13).

 During the course of plaintiff's employment defendant Wingert asked him to make political contributions three times. First, on May 18, 1982, Wingert requested a $100 contribution for a dinner sponsored by the Governor Thornburgh committee. Pealer refused to make this donation. (Complaint, paragraph 85). Second, in the Summer of 1982, Wingert asked for a $25 contribution to another campaign. Pealer complied this time. (Complaint paragraphs 83-84). Finally, in October of 1982, Wingert sought another $40 contribution which Pealer refused to make. (Complaint, paragraphs 89-90).

 During the Summer of 1982 Pealer also complained to certain of the defendants that defendant Brown had moved into a stone house at the Summerdale Laboratories. Plaintiff believed that only someone associated with the Laboratories should have been permitted to live in the stone house. At the same time he observed defendant Norris taking some state furniture, apparently abandoned at a dump, for his personal use. (Complaint, paragraph 72; Pealer Affidavit, paragraph 19). He reported his concern to some of the defendants.

 Based upon the foregoing, Pealer argues that his discharge on May 26, 1984 was politically motivated since he refused to contribute to Republican party politics and was a whistle blower. He contends that at all times his work performance was good. (Pealer Affidavit, paragraph 13). He asserts that two of his work crew were not replaced because defendants wished to set him up for discharge by making it more difficult for him to accomplish his assignment.

 Defendants assert that Pealer's discharge was not motivated by political considerations at all. (Hallowell affidavit, paragraph 5; Wingert affidavit, paragraph 6; Moyer affidavit, paragraph 4; Hubert affidavit, paragraph 5; Bringham affidavit, paragraph 4; Van Buskirk affidavit, paragraph 5; Clark affidavit, paragraph 5; Klinger affidavit, paragraph 5; Brown affidavit, paragraph 4; Norris affidavit, paragraph 4). Moreover, they point out that plaintiff has admitted that he lacks any evidence to tie his discharge to his failure to contribute. (Pealer Deposition, 48, 88-109, 112-13, 119, 215-25). Pealer was fired simply because he was not a good supervisor. (Hallowell affidavit, paragraph 4).

 III. Discussion.

 
Summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 is appropriate only where the moving party establishes that no genuine issue exists as to any of the material facts in the case, and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See, e.g., Hollinger v. Wagner Mining Equipment Co., 667 F.2d 402, 405 (3d Cir. 1981). Courts should resolve any doubts as to the existence of issues of material fact against the moving party, and view all inference in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. [citation omitted].

 Fragale & Sons Beverage Co. v. Dill, 760 F.2d 469, 472 (3d Cir. 1985) ...


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