general contractor, and that Naccarato felt Skepton's contract should be terminated if he did not cooperate. Skepton further alleges that Naccarato participated in the meeting at which Skepton announced the topsoil problem and his intent to publicize it, and in the meeting at which the Commissioners decided to terminate Skepton's contract.
As the moving defendants contend, it is not enough for Skepton to show that the private and state actors had a common goal, or that the private parties attempted to influence governmental action. See, e.g., Annunziato, 744 F.2d at 251-52; Scott v. Greenville County, 716 F.2d 1409, 1424 (4th Cir. 1983); Hauptmann, 570 F. Supp. at 384; Tarkowski, 644 F.2d at 1206; Chicarelli, 551 F. Supp. at 539-40. Here, however, Skepton's factual assertions suggest that Naccarato was intimately involved in the County Commissioners' administration of the prison project. The allegations in the amended complaint, if proven, could establish that Naccarato had both the opportunity and the inclination to be a "willful participant" in the Commissioners' decision to terminate Skepton's contract. See Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 152, 26 L. Ed. 2d 142, 90 S. Ct. 1598 (1970). See also Robb, 733 F.2d at 295 & n.3; Black v. Bayer, 672 F.2d 309, 318 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 916, 103 S. Ct. 230, 74 L. Ed. 2d 182 (1982); Three Rivers Cablevision, Inc. v. City of Pittsburgh, 502 F. Supp. 1118, 1135 (W.D.Pa. 1980). Skepton's allegations are thus sufficient to withstand defendants' motion to dismiss.
Plaintiff's allegation that he was deprived of a constitutionally protected right also passes muster at this preliminary stage, and defendants have not contended otherwise. The law is clear that a government entity cannot deprive a person of a benefit on a basis that infringes his constitutionally protected interest in freedom of speech. Connick, 461 U.S. at 142; Johnson v. Lincoln University, 776 F.2d 443, 450 (3d Cir. 1985); Robb, 733 F.2d at 295. A public employee's speech is protected if it relates to matters of public concern. Connick, 461 U.S. at 146. Skepton claims he intended to and did disclose information showing that the County's specifications for the prison project would result in a dangerously defective building. The safety and structural soundness of a County correctional facility is clearly a matter of public concern. See Czurlanis v. Albanese, 721 F.2d 98, 104 (3d Cir. 1983) (plaintiff's challenge to government practices "he considered inefficient, wasteful, and possibly fraudulent" is protected as speech involving matters of public concern). See also Brasslett v. Cota, 761 F.2d 827, 844 (1st Cir. 1985); Monsanto v. Quinn, 674 F.2d 990, 996-97 (3d Cir. 1982). Skepton's claim that he was discharged in retaliation for exposing governmental inefficiency states a cause of action under § 1983.
Naccarato and O'Donnell & Naccarato have also requested an award of sanctions under Fed.R.Civ.P. 11. While I conclude that the allegations of the amended complaint are sufficient to survive this motion to dismiss, and that sanctions are thus not warranted at this stage, I will reserve for another day the question whether plaintiff's allegations have a sufficient factual basis to satisfy the requirements of Rule 11.
This 19th day of February, 1986, it is ORDERED that the Motion of defendants Peter A. Naccarato, P.E. and O'Donnell & Naccarato, Inc. to Dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to state a cause of action is DENIED.