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SEITZER v. CITY OF WILLIAMSPORT
March 15, 1996
ALDEN H. SEITZER, Plaintiff
CITY OF WILLIAMSPORT, et al., Defendants
James F. McClure, Jr., United States District Judge
The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCCLURE
Plaintiff Alden H. Seitzer filed this action to recover damages for his dismissal from his civil service position as a paid firefighter for the City of Williamsport (the City). Williamsport Fire Chief Randy Goodbrod terminated plaintiff's employment on November 24, 1993, stating that plaintiff had violated various rules and regulations of the department including, inter alia, policies prohibiting unauthorized communications with the news media.
Plaintiff requested and received a hearing before the Fireman's Civil Service Board (the Board). The Board overruled the action of the fire chief and ordered plaintiff reinstated to his former position effective December 29, 1993. Plaintiff was awarded back pay and any overtime pay he would have received from the date of termination through the date of his reinstatement. Plaintiff remains employed with the department to this day.
Plaintiff asserts claims against the City, Chief Goodbrod, and Williamsport Mayor Philip E. Preziosi. Plaintiff alleges: 1) section 1983
claims under the First Amendment (Counts I through V); 2) claims under Article I, section 7 of the Pennsylvania Constitution for the alleged violation of his right of freedom of speech (Counts VI through X); 3) section 1983 claims for the alleged violation of his right of substantive due process (Counts XI through XV); and 4) a defamation claim based upon the alleged publication of a standing order by defendants describing plaintiff as violence-prone and mentally unstable (Count XVI).
Before the court is plaintiff's motion in limine (record document no. 64). The motion is currently unopposed, although there is before the court an oral motion of defendants, made at the final pretrial conference held February 29, 1996, for leave nunc pro tunc to extend the time for the filing of an opposing brief. Defendants' motion for leave to file a response nunc pro tunc will be denied. Nearly two months have passed since defendants' opposing brief was due.
Defendants have given no convincing reasons for their failure either to file a brief within the fifteen days allotted under the local rules or to seek an extension within that time period. It was not until the court raised the issue at the final pretrial conference that defendants requested leave to file an opposing brief out of time. However, the reasons which follow, we will deny plaintiff's motion in limine.
Proceedings at the state level
Plaintiff moves to preclude defendants from contesting in this action factual issues decided by the Fireman's Civil Service Board. When plaintiff's employment was terminated on November 24, 1993, he was given a memorandum of termination and discharge which alleged that he had violated six departmental rules and regulations by committing seven enumerated acts.
The memorandum charged plaintiff with violating the following departmental rules:
1) failing to "promptly obey and execute...all lawful legitimate orders of a superior officer;"
3) failing to "promptly notify" his "immediate superior officer of all matters coming to...[his] attention which would affect the interest or welfare of the Bureau;"
4) publicly criticizing the Bureau, its policies or other members...when the criticism is defamatory... unlawful or false;
5) conducting himself in a "manner...unbecoming to a member of the Bureau;" and
6) being a party to "malicious gossip or activity which would tend to disrupt Bureau morale or bring discredit to the ...
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