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Connection Training Services v. City of Philadelphia

February 25, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Norma L. Shapiro, S.J.


Plaintiff Connection Training Services ("CTS") filed an action against defendants the City of Philadelphia ("City"), Perritti DiVirgilio ("DiVirgilio") and James Ferraro ("Ferraro"), director and deputy director, respectively, of the City Labor Standards Unit. Count I of the CTS amended complaint alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by the City. Count II alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by DiVirgilio and Ferraro. Count III alleges violations by defendants DiVirgilio and Ferraro of the Pennsylvania Public Official and Employee Ethics Act, 65 Pa. C.S.A. § 1101, et seq. Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration of the court's grant of summary judgment on counts I and II will be denied. The court will also deny defendants' motion that the court exercise supplemental jurisdiction and will dismiss count III of plaintiff's complaint without prejudice.


The court's memorandum and order of December 31, 2008, (paper no. 61) ("Opinion") granted summary judgment against CTS for violations of its rights to due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.*fn1 Before the court is the timely motion for reconsideration of the denial of the due process claim.

Reconsideration serves to correct manifest errors of law or fact. Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906 (3rd Cir. 1985). A court should grant a motion for reconsideration only if there is: 1) newly available evidence; 2) an intervening change in controlling law; or 3) a need to correct a clear error of fact or to prevent manifest injustice. Haymond v. Lundy, 205 F. Supp. 2d 390, 395 (E.D. Pa. 2002). "Motions for reconsideration are not to be used to reargue or relitigate matters already decided." Id. CTS asserts a clear error of material fact.

The Opinion held the due process claim insufficient because the property right alleged to have been violated depended on precluding the defendants from denying Philadelphia Code § 17-107(2)(b)(.2) ("(2)(b)(.2)" or "the trainee provision") became effective.*fn2 The trainee provision was added to Philadelphia Code Chapter 17-100 together with some other provisions by Ordinance No. 990221-A, passed on September 28, 1999. Ordinance No. 990221-A stated that the provisions it created were not to become effective until the Minority Business Enterprise Council ("MBEC") certified a minimum minority participation in union apprenticeship programs*fn3; MBEC never issued that certification.*fn4 CTS claimed the defendants acted as if the trainee provision were in effect,*fn5 and that defendants should have known that CTS might have relied on their negligent misrepresentation that the trainee provision was in effect. (Opinion, p. 12.) CTS did not present evidence that: it created its training program in reliance on the City's misrepresentation; such reliance was justifiable; and its reasonable reliance was detrimental to CTS. Id.

CTS, in its motion for reconsideration, claims that it created training programs in reliance on (2)(b)(.2) being in effect. According to CTS, Garnett Littlepage, in his deposition, stated:

* in 2004 he investigated and read § 17-107 by going to the City's website and reading a document that did not include any footnotes ([Littlepage Deposition] at 105);

* based upon the trainee exemption in § 17-107, CTS conceived a training program in conjunction with the Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation (PWDC) that would . . .train ex-offenders as trainees and pay these trainees a wage of $15.89 an hour (Id. at 105-06);

* developed a curriculum and submitted it to PWDC, a City Related Agency, which approved the program and funded the first cycle of the program (see eg. Id. at 82-83);

* CTS subsequently trained the employees. (Pl.'s Mot. for Reconsideration, pp. 4-5.) CTS asserts there are remaining questions of material fact whether its reliance was genuine, justified, and detrimental, so its due process claim should have survived summary judgment.

Assuming that CTS can show a negligent misrepresentation by defendants, that the defendants should have known CTS would rely on their misrepresentation,*fn6 and that reliance was justifiable,*fn7 CTS has not produced evidence that its reliance caused it detriment. Strunk v. Zoning Hearing Bd. of Upper Milford Tp., 684 A.2d 682, 685 (Pa.Cmwlth. 1996). The detriment alleged in an estoppel claim must be actual and quantifiable, and not merely presumptive. See Card v. Commonwealth, Pennsylvania School Employes' Retirement Bd., 478 A.2d 510, 514 (Pa. Cmwlth.1984) (denying an estoppel claim where the alleged damages stemmed from a refusal to allow plaintiff to apply for pension credits).*fn8

CTS submitted a grant proposal to the PWDC and other agencies for funding to train ex-offenders as construction workers. The grant process required CTS to name an employer committed to hiring CTS trainees on construction projects at below prevailing wage for the hands-on second half of the training cycle. LP Group[2] ("LP2"), a for-profit construction firm of whom Littlepage was a minority owner, was listed in the first CTS grant proposal. (Deposition of Douglas Kissel, pp. 52-53.)

CTS was not harmed as a result of expending time, effort, and money in designing and submitting that grant proposal, because the grant was approved and paid in full. Id. at 51. CTS does not allege that any grantor actually withheld funds it was legally obligated to provide CTS as a result of defendants' actions. When the City refused to honor LP2's construction contracts for failure to pay the prevailing wage,*fn9 CTS chose not to proceed with subsequent training ...

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