United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
September 21, 2005.
FRED L. WAGNER, Plaintiff
TUSCARORA SCHOOL DISTRICT; BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS OF THE TUSCARORA SCHOOL DISTRICT; ROBERT BEAUMONT; THOMAS STAPLEFORD; JANE RICE; MICHAEL RICE; GEOFFREY SPIDEL; DARLA THARP; and KEITH SMITH, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: YVETTE KANE, District Judge
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Before the Court is a partial motion to dismiss Plaintiff's
second amended complaint filed collectively by the
above-captioned defendants. (Doc. No. 35.) The motion has been
fully briefed and is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that
follow, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.
Plaintiff initiated this civil action by a complaint filed May
25, 2004, which he subsequently amended on July 8, 2004, and
amended again on January 28, 2005. In the second amended
complaint Plaintiff names the following Defendants: Tuscarora
School District ("District"); the Board of School Directors of
the Tuscarora School District ("Board"); Principal Robert
Beaumont; Superintendent Thomas Stapleford; individual Board
members Jane Rice, Michael Rice, and Geoffrey Spidel ("Defendant
Board Members"); and teachers Darla Tharp and Keith Smith
("Defendant Teachers"). On February 24, 2005, Defendants filed
the motion to dismiss currently before the Court. (Doc. No. 35.)
Plaintiff was employed by the District for a period of twenty
years as a high school band director. (Doc. No. 33 at 4.)
Beaumont is the principal of the high school. (Id.) Stapleford
is the Superintendent of Schools for the District of Tuscarora.
(Id.) Spidel, Jane Rice, and Michael Rice are members of the
Board of Directors of the Tuscarora School District. (Id.)
Tharp is a teacher at the high school and Smith is an elementary
teacher. (Id. at 5.)
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants conspired to terminate his
employment. Specifically Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
Beaumont harbored a personal dislike for Plaintiff and that
Defendant Board Members hired Stapleford as Superintendent on the
condition he terminate Plaintiff. (Id. at 6, 9.) Plaintiff
claims that Defendant Board Members met with Superintendent
Stapleford for the purpose of planning a course of action to
suspend and/or terminate Plaintiff's employment. (Id. at 9.)
Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants falsely accused him of
receiving kickbacks and of sexually harassing students. (Id. at
10, 11-13.) Despite the lack of formal charges following a police
investigation, Plaintiff was suspended without pay on August 12,
2003, and was allegedly told by Stapleford that "[he] had 24
hours to resign, or else he would be terminated." (Id. at 13.)
Plaintiff claims he was suspended without notice or the
opportunity to respond to the allegations against him. (Id.) In
addition, Plaintiff alleges that Superintendent Stapleford and
Principal Beaumont contacted local newspapers, which reported
that Plaintiff was accused of sexually harassing students. (Id.
Plaintiff asserts the following claims: violations of his
Constitutional rights to substantive and procedural due process;
civil conspiracy; defamation per se; tortious interference
with employment; breach of contract; and violation of the
Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law, 43 Pa. Stat. Cons. Ann. § 2601 et seq. (Doc No. 33.) Defendants have moved
to partially dismiss the claims against them for failure to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. No. 35.)
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
A motion to dismiss tests the legal sufficiency of the
complaint. Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993).
When considering a motion to dismiss, the court accepts as true
all factual allegations contained in the complaint and views them
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. United States
Express Lines Ltd. v. Higgins, 281 F.3d 383, 388 (3d Cir. 2002).
The plaintiff is required to "set forth sufficient information to
outline the elements of his claim or to permit inferences to be
drawn that those elements exist." Kost, 1 F.3d at 183
(citations omitted). A court should grant a motion to dismiss
only if it appears the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in
support of his claim that would entitle him to relief.
Wisniewski v. Johns-Manville Corp., 759 F.2d 271, 273 (3d Cir.
1985) (citations omitted).
A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) is properly granted when, taking all factual allegations
and inferences as true, the moving party is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law. Markowitz v. Northeast Land Co.,
906 F.2d 100, 103 (3d Cir. 1990). The burden is on the moving party to
show that no claim has been stated. Johnsrud v. Carter,
620 F.2d 29, 33 (3d Cir. 1980). "A court may dismiss a complaint only
if it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of
facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations."
Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984). However, "a
court need not credit a complaint's `bald assertions' or `legal
conclusions' when deciding a motion to dismiss." Morse v. Lower
Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906, 908 (3d Cir. 1997). "The issue is not whether a plaintiff
will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to
offer evidence to support the claims." Lake v. Arnold,
112 F.3d 682, 688 (3d Cir. 1997) (citing Scheuer v. Rhodes,
416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overruled on other grounds by Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982)).
A. PLAINTIFF'S DUE PROCESS CLAIMS
The Fourteenth Amendment forbids state actors from depriving
persons of life, liberty or property without due process of law.
U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1; see also Elmore v. Cleary,
399 F.3d 279, 282 (3d Cir. 2005). The protections required by the Due
Process Clause are triggered by the particular rights and
interests at stake in a case. Graham v. City of Philadelphia,
402 F.3d 139, 145 (3d Cir. 2005) (citing Washington v. Harper,
494 U.S. 210, 229 (1990)). Plaintiff has alleged that the
District, Board, Beaumont, Stapleford, and Defendant Board
Members acted under color of law to violate Plaintiff's due
process rights. Plaintiff contends that Defendants deprived
Plaintiff of his liberty interest in his reputation, an asserted
property interest in his employment, and his right to potential
future employment. (Doc. No. 33 at 20, 24.) Defendants have moved
to dismiss the substantive due process portion of Counts I and II
as to all Defendants and the procedural due process portion of
Count II as to all Defendants.
In a substantive due process challenge of non-legislative state
action, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
has held that a plaintiff must establish, as a threshold matter,
that the property interest at stake is "fundamental" under the
Constitution. Nicholas v. Pa. State Univ., 227 F.3d 133, 142
(3d. Cir. 2000). Courts have held that property interests in
employment are not so "fundamental" as to be afforded substantive due process
protections. See Id.; see also Williams v. Pa. State
Police Bureau of Liquor Enforcement, 108 F. Supp. 2d 460, 470-71
(E.D. Pa. 2000) (holding that public employment is not a
fundamental property interest that implicates substantive due
process). For example, in Nicholas, a tenured university
professor brought a substantive due process challenge against the
university for retaliatory discharge and breach of contract. The
Third Circuit held that the professor's interest in his tenured
employment was not a protected property interest to which
substantive due process applies. Id. at 143. The Third Circuit
joined the majority of courts of appeals when it reasoned that
"tenured public employment bears little resemblance to other
rights and property interests that have been deemed fundamental
under the Constitution." Id. (collecting cases). Because
Plaintiff's claim of substantive due process violation rests
entirely on an alleged employment interest as a public school
teacher, the Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to state a
cognizable substantive due process claim.
Plaintiff also asserts a substantive due process violation with
respect to his liberty interest in his reputation. To make out a
claim for a violation of a liberty interest in reputation,
Plaintiff must show a stigma to his reputation and some
accompanying infringement of a protected right or interest. Paul
v. Davis, 424 U.S. 693, 701 (1976) (although not every
defamation by a public official will constitute a deprivation of
liberty subject to constitutional protection, stigma to
reputation, together with an impact on a "tangible interest, such
as employment" may require due process protection); Ersek v.
Township of Springfield, 102 F.3d 79, 83 n. 5 (3d Cir. 1996).
Courts have referred to this as the "reputation plus"
requirement. Id. Accordingly, although injury to reputation
alone is not a liberty interest protected under the
Fourteenth Amendment, stigma to reputation accompanied by a deprivation of present or future employment may be a liberty interest requiring
due process protection. Robb v. City of Philadelphia,
733 F.2d 286, 294 (3d Cir. 1984).
The reputation-plus liberty interest "is not accorded
substantive due process protection; rather, the right accorded is
that of procedural due process or more specifically the right to
an opportunity to refute the charges and clear one's name."
Pulchaski v. Sch. Dist. of Springfield, 161 F. Supp. 2d 395,
406 (E.D. Pa. 2001) (citing Codd, 429 U.S. at 627; Bd. of
Regents of State Colls. v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 573 (1972);
Paul, 424 U.S. at 710). Accordingly, the Court finds that
although Plaintiff has alleged a cognizable procedural due
process claim regarding his right to reputation, he cannot
maintain a substantive due process claim on this basis.
Defendants claim they are entitled to qualified immunity from
Plaintiff's due process claims. Qualified immunity generally
shields government officials performing discretionary functions
"from liability from civil damages insofar as their conduct does
not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional
rights of which a reasonable person would have known." Kopec v.
Tate, 361 F.3d 772, 776 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982)). A defendant has the
burden of proving that they are entitled to qualified immunity.
Kopec, 361 F.3d at 776 (citing Beers-Capitol v. Whetzel,
256 F.3d 120, 142 n. 15 (3d Cir. 2001)). In determining whether qualified
immunity applies, the Court considers: (1) whether the plaintiff
has alleged the deprivation of an actual constitutional right
and, if so, (2) whether the right was clearly established at the
time of the alleged violation. Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194,
200-01 (2001). The relative dispositive inquiry in making this
determination is "whether it would be clear to a reasonable
[person] that his conduct was unlawful in the situation he
confronted." Id. at 202. "A right is clearly established if its
outlines are sufficiently clear that a reasonable [official] would understand that his
action violates the right." Sterling v. Borough of Minersville,
232 F.3d 190, 193 (3d Cir. 2000). Therefore, the Court must
determine first whether the plaintiff has alleged a deprivation
of a constitutional right in the first instance, before it
reaches the question of whether the right was clearly established
at the time. This analysis must occur for each individual
defendant based on his particular conduct. Grant v. City of
Pittsburgh, 98 F.3d 116, 122 (3d Cir. 1996). All allegations
must be viewed in a light most favorable to Plaintiff. Saucier,
533 U.S. at 201.
The establishment of the right to procedural due process is
recognized by, and made a part of, the Pennsylvania School Code
of 1949, which provides:
The board of school directors in any school district,
except as herein otherwise provided, shall after due
notice, giving the reasons therefor[e], and after
hearing if demanded, have the right at any time to
remove any of its officers, employe[e]s, or
appointees for incompetency, intemperance, neglect of
duty, violation of any of the school laws of this
Commonwealth, or other improper conduct.
24 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 5-514 (West 2005). On this basis alone,
the Court finds that a public school teacher's right to
procedural due process prior to removal is a clearly established
right of which Defendants should have been aware, and any conduct
by Defendants that violates this right would fall outside the
bounds of qualified immunity.
In Count II of his amended complaint, Plaintiff claims that
Defendants Stapleford, Beaumont, and Defendant Board Members,
acting in their individual capacities, violated his right to
procedural due process. (Doc. No. 33, at 24-27.) However,
Plaintiff has failed to allege that Principal Beaumont or the
Defendant Board Members attended or participated in the August
12, 2003 hearing during which Plaintiff was allegedly advised he
had to resign or would be terminated immediately. Therefore,
Plaintiff has failed to state a claim that Defendants Beaumont and
Defendant Board Members violated Plaintiff's right to procedural
Defendants argue that Stapleford is entitled to qualified
immunity because the due process owed to Plaintiff is limited to
pre- and post-hearings relating to actual termination, not to
suspension of employment. (Doc. No. 36, at 10.) Accordingly,
Defendants contend that Stapleford is entitled to qualified
immunity because either Plaintiff has not alleged a
constitutional deprivation, or, if Plaintiff has alleged
deprivation of a constitutional right, such a right was not
clearly established. The Court disagrees. Notwithstanding
Defendants' characterization of the August 12, 2003 hearing as a
suspension hearing, Plaintiff has alleged that Superintendent
Stapleford informed him that he "had 24 hours to resign, or else
he would be terminated." (Doc. No. 33 at 13.) This allegation,
accepted as true for purposes of evaluating this motion to
dismiss, suggests the purpose of the hearing was not to explore a
possible suspension, but was in essence a de facto
termination hearing. When taken in a light most favorable to
Plaintiff, the alleged facts are sufficient to support
Plaintiff's claim of procedural due process violation against
Defendant Stapleford, and the Court finds the claim is sufficient
to withstand the qualified immunity challenge at this state of
In summary, Defendants' motion to dismiss the substantive due
process portion of Count I against the District and the Board
will be granted. In addition, Defendants' motion to dismiss the
substantive due process portion of Count II against Beaumont and
Defendant Board Members will also be granted. However, the motion
to dismiss the procedural due process portion of Count II will be granted in part and denied in part.*fn1 As discussed above,
Defendant's motion to dismiss the procedural due process claim
against Defendant Stapleford will be denied, and Defendants'
motion to dismiss the procedural due process claim against
Defendants Beaumont and Defendant Board Members will be granted.
B. PLAINTIFF'S STATE LAW CLAIMS
In Plaintiff's second amended complaint, he alleges several
state law claims. Defendants argue that the claims should be
dismissed because Plaintiff failed to establish facts to support
the claims and because they are entitled to immunity. These
claims will be addressed in turn.
In Count IV, Plaintiff alleges a claim of defamation per se
against all Defendants. (Doc. No. 33.) In response, Defendants
argue that Plaintiff has failed to allege facts sufficient to
support a claim of defamation against Defendant Board Members.
Defendants also argue that the District and the Board are immune
from Plaintiff's state law tort claims. (Doc. No. 36.)
In order to establish a claim of defamation, the plaintiff has
the burden of proving: (1) the defamatory character of a
communication; (2) its publication by the defendant; (3) its
application to the plaintiff; (4) the understanding by the
recipient of its defamatory meaning; (5) the understanding by the
recipient of it as intended to be applied to the plaintiff; (6)
special harm resulting to the plaintiff from its publication; and
(7) abuse of a conditionally privileged occasion. 42 Pa. Cons.
Stat. Ann. § 8343(a). A plaintiff need not prove special harm if
a statement is defamatory per se. Synergy, Inc. v.
Scot-Levin, Inc., 51 F. Supp. 2d 570, 580 (E.D. Pa. 1999), aff'd,
229 F.3d 1139 (3d Cir. 2000); Corabi v. Curtis Publishing Co.,
273 A.2d 899, 920 n. 25 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1971). Words tending to
impute criminal offense, loathsome disease, business misconduct,
or serious sexual misconduct constitute defamation per se.
Clemente v. Espinosa, 749 F. Supp. 672, 677 (E.D. Pa. 1990).
In this case, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Beaumont and
Stapleford gave statements to local newspapers, which were
published, representing falsely that Plaintiff had sexually
harassed students. The Court finds that if proven, such
statements may constitute defamation per se and that
Plaintiff has therefore sufficiently pled a cause of action for
defamation against Defendants Beaumont and Stapleford. However,
Plaintiff has not alleged that any of the other Defendants made
defamatory remarks about him. As a result, Plaintiff has failed
to state a claim for defamation against any other individual
Defendants argue that the District and Board are not liable for
defamation pursuant to the Pennsylvania Political Subdivision
Tort Claims Act ("PSTCA"). 42 Pa. Stat. Cons. Ann. § 8541. The
PSTCA provides that "no local agency shall be liable for any
damages on account of any injury to a person or property caused
by any act of the local agency or an employee thereof or any
other person." 42 Pa. Stat. Cons. Ann. § 8541. The District and
Board constitute local agencies for purposes of governmental
immunity. See Petula v. Mellody, 631 A.2d 762, 765 (Pa.
Commw. Ct. 1993). There are certain exceptions to this general
grant of immunity set forth in section 8542 of the PSTCA.
However, under section 8542, a party seeking to recover against a
local agency must demonstrate that it has a common law or
statutory cause of action in negligence against the local agency
and that the local agency's alleged acts fall within one of the eight enumerated
exceptions.*fn2 Defamation is not included among the
specifically designed exceptions to governmental immunity. Keim
v. County of Bucks, 275 F. Supp. 2d 628, 638 (E.D. Pa. 2003);
see also Satterfield v. Borough of Schuylkill Haven,
12 F. Supp. 2d 423, 442 (E.D. Pa. 1998) (holding that "under
Pennsylvania law, a local agency . . . is immune from cause of
action sounding in defamation"). Therefore, the Court finds that
Plaintiff's claim of defamation against the District and Board
must be dismissed.
2. Tortious Interference with Employment.
In Count V, Plaintiff alleges that all individual Defendants
tortiously interfered with Plaintiff's employment. (Doc. No. 33.)
Defendants have moved to dismiss the claim in Count V against
Defendants Stapleford and Defendant Board Members.*fn3 (Doc.
No. 35.) In this Commonwealth, "[o]ne who intentionally and
improperly interferes with the performance of a contract . . .
between another and a third person by inducing or otherwise
causing the third person not to perform the contract, is subject
to liability to the other for the pecuniary loss resulting to the
other from the third person's failure to perform the contract."
Judge Technical Servs., Inc. v. Clancy, 813 A.2d 879, 887 (Pa.
Super. Ct. 2002) (internal quotations omitted).
In order to sustain a claim for intentional interference with
performance of a contract, Plaintiff must satisfy the following
four elements: (1) the existence of a contractual relationship;
(2) an intent on the part of the defendant to harm the plaintiff by interfering
with that contractual relationship; (3) the absence of a
privilege for such interference; and (4) damages resulting from
the defendant's conduct. Triffin v. Janssen, 626 A.2d 571, 574
(Pa. Super. Ct. 1993).
Plaintiff, whose employment was subject to a collective bargain
agreement, alleges that Principal Beaumont provided false
information about Plaintiff to Defendant Board Members with the
intent to persuade them to terminate Plaintiff. (Doc. No. 33 at
8.) In addition, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Board Members
intended to interfere with Plaintiff's employment when they hired
Superintendent Stapleford because he committed to "getting rid"
of Plaintiff. (Id.) Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant
Teachers interfered with Plaintiff's employment when they
initiated false accusations against Plaintiff. (Id. at 10-11.)
The Court finds that if Plaintiff's allegations are proven, such
conduct may constitute tortious interference with Plaintiff's
employment. Accordingly, Plaintiff has sufficiently pled a cause
of action for tortious interference with employment against
Defendants Beaumont, Stapleford, Defendant Teachers, and
Defendant Board Members.
3. Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law Claims.
In Count VII, Plaintiff alleges that the District and Board
violated the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law
("WPCL"), 43 Pa. Stat. Cons. Ann. § 2601 et seq. The WPCL
provides as follows:
Actions by an employe[e], labor organization, or
party to whom any type of wages is payable to recover
unpaid wages and liquidated damages may be maintained
in any court of competent jurisdiction, by such labor
organization, party to whom any type of wages is
payable or any one or more employe[e]s for and in
behalf of himself or themselves and other employe[e]s
similarly situated, or such employe[e] or employe[e]s
may designate an agent or representative to maintain
such action or on behalf of all employe[e]s similarly
situated. Any such employe[e], labor organization,
party, or his representative shall have the power to
settle or adjust his claim for unpaid wages.
43 P.S. § 260.9a(b). "[T]he WPCL does not create a right to
compensation . . . [r]ather, it provides a statutory remedy when
the employer breaches a contractual obligation to pay earned
wages." De Asencio v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 342 F.3d 301
, 309 (3d
The WPCL defines the term employer to include "every person,
firm, partnership, association, corporation, receiver or other
officer of a court of this Commonwealth and any agent or officer
of any of the above-mentioned classes employing any person in
this Commonwealth." 43 Pa. Stat. Cons. Ann. § 260.2a.
Pennsylvania courts have expressly declined to extend the WPCL to
school district employers. See Chatterjee v. Sch. Dist. of
Philadelphia, 170 F. Supp. 2d 509, 518 (E.D. Pa. 2001) ("This
definition has been held not to embrace school districts")
(citing Phillipsburg-Osceola Educ. Ass'n v. Phillipsburg-Osceola
Area Sch. Dist., 633 A.2d 220, 223 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 1993) ("We
therefore decline to extend the Wage Law to school district
employers")). In accordance with these decisions, the Court finds
that Plaintiff's WPCL claim against the District and Board must
4. Conspiracy to Defame and Tortiously Interfere with
In Count II, Plaintiff alleges that the individual Defendants
conspired to defame him and tortiously interfere with his
employment. Defendants argue that Plaintiff has failed to allege
facts which support a claim of conspiracy.
Under Pennsylvania law, a Plaintiff must allege the existence
of each element of civil conspiracy in order to state a valid
cause of action. Burnside v. Abbot Labs., 505 A.2d 973, 980
(Pa. Super. Ct. 1985). As a result, a complaint must allege "a
combination of two or more persons to do an unlawful or criminal act or to do a lawful act by unlawful means or for an
unlawful purpose." Landau v. W. Pa. Nat'l Bank, 282 A.2d 335,
339 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1971) (citations omitted). In addition, "a
claim of civil conspiracy cannot be pled without alleging an
underlying tort." Boyanowski v. Capital Area Intermediate Unit,
215 F.3d 396, 405-406 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing Nix v. Temple
Univ., 596 A.2d 1132, 1137 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1991)).
Plaintiff has alleged Defendants held meetings amongst
themselves for the purpose of terminating or suspending his
employment. (Doc. No. 33, at 9-12.) Plaintiff has also alleged
agreement among Defendants to defame Plaintiff by reporting
"baseless allegations of sexual harassment, which they knew to be
substantially and materially false." (Doc. No. 33 at 14.) The
Court finds that, if proven, these allegations taken together
would support a claim of conspiracy. Accordingly, Plaintiff has
sufficiently pled a cause of action for conspiracy against the
5. Defendants' Claim of High Public Official Immunity from
Plaintiff's Tort Claims.
Defendants claim they enjoy high public official immunity from
all of Plaintiff's tort claims. "An official's status as a high
public official for purposes of absolute immunity is determined
on a case-by-case basis, and depends on the nature of his duties,
the importance of his office, and particularly whether or not he
has policy-making functions." Zugarek v. S. Tioga Sch. Dist.,
214 F. Supp. 2d 468, 479 (M.D. Pa. 2002) (quotation omitted).
However, high public officials are entitled to absolute immunity
from state law suits only when acting in their official
capacities. Zugarek, 214 F. Supp. 2d at 479 (internal citations
omitted). Furthermore, the defense of official immunity does not
apply to any act by a high public official that constitutes a crime, actual fraud,
actual malice or willful misconduct.*fn4 42 Pa. Cons. Stat.
Ann. § 8550.
Pennsylvania courts have recognized that a school
superintendent is a high public official under this common law
doctrine. Smith v. Sch. Dist. of Philadelphia,
112 F. Supp. 2d 417, 425 (E.D. Pa. 2000) (citing Petula v. Mellody,
631 A.2d 762 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 1993)). Similarly, school board members,
"entrusted with a policymaking role for the School District, are
high public officials entitled to absolute immunity from state
law suits when acting in their official capacities." Zugarek,
214 F. Supp. 2d at 479 (citing Jackson v. Coatesville Area Sch.
Dist., No. 99-1495, 2000 WL 1185375, at *9 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 21,
2000) (citing Matta v. Burton, 721 A.2d 1164, 1166 (Pa. Commw.
Ct. 1998))). Unlike school superintendents and school board
members, principals and teachers do not qualify as high public
officials for purposes of this common law immunity doctrine and
therefore immunity does not apply to Defendants Beaumont and
Defendant Teachers. Smith, 112 F. Supp. 2d at 425 n. 6.
Even though Superintendent Stapleford and Defendant Board
Members qualify as high public officials, the defense of official
immunity does not apply to any act by a high public official that
constitutes a crime, actual fraud, actual malice or willful
misconduct. 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 8550. When construed in the
light most favorable to Plaintiff, the facts alleged in the
amended complaint may, if proven, establish that the Defendants'
"constitute willful, wanton and reckless conduct, committed intentionally and with malice towards [Plaintiff]." (Doc. No. 33
at 28.) Accordingly, high public official immunity does not
shield Defendants from Plaintiff's tort claims. IV. ORDER
And now, this 21st day of September 2005, for the reasons
discussed in the within memorandum, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT
Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 35) is GRANTED
in part and DENIED in part as follows:
1. The substantive due process claim contained in
Count I is DISMISSED as to all Defendants. However,
the procedural due process claim of Count I is not
2. The substantive due process claim of Count II is
DISMISSED as to all Defendants. The procedural due
process claim of Count II is DISMISSED as to all
parties except Defendant Stapleford.
3. The motion to dismiss Count III is DENIED.
4. Count IV of the Complaint is DISMISSED as to all
Defendants except Defendants Stapleford and Beaumont.
5. The motion to dismiss Count V is DENIED.
6. Count VII of the Complaint is DISMISSED as to
7. Defendants shall file an answer to all remaining
claims within twenty (20) days from the date of this
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