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McKenna v. City of Philadelphia

July 15, 2009

MICHAEL MCKENNA, WILLIAM MCKENNA, AND RAYMOND CARNATION
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA



The opinion of the court was delivered by: McLaughlin, J.

MEMORANDUM

This is a civil rights action brought under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. The plaintiffs, William McKenna, Michael McKenna, and Raymond Carnation, are three white, former Philadelphia police officers who allege that they were retaliated against by the City of Philadelphia police department after they complained about racially-discriminatory treatment of African-American officers and after they filed claims of retaliation and discrimination. It was originally filed as two separate actions, one by Michael McKenna, the other by William McKenna, Raymond Carnation, and other since-dismissed plaintiffs. The two cases were subsequently consolidated for all purposes.

The Court held an eight-day jury trial on the plaintiffs' claims in May 2008. The jury found against the defendant City of Philadelphia (the "City") and in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded damages in the amount of $2,000,000 for Raymond Carnation, $3,000,000 for William McKenna, and $5,000,000 for Michael McKenna. The City of Philadelphia has now moved to apply Title VII's statutory cap on damages, 42 U.S.C. § 1981a(b)(3), to the verdict. The plaintiffs have cross-moved to avoid the statutory cap by seeking to have the verdict molded to award any damages in excess of the cap under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 951 et seq., which does not have a statutory cap.

The Court will deny the plaintiffs' motion and will apply Title VII's statutory cap to the damages awarded at trial.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In the late 1990's, plaintiffs William McKenna, Michael McKenna, and Raymond Carnation were Philadelphia police officers assigned to the 7-squad of the 25th District of the Philadelphia Police Department.

On November 4, 1998, Michael McKenna filed Case No. 98-5835 in this Court. He subsequently filed an amended complaint on November 12, 1998, and a second amended complaint on May 24, 1999. His suit brought claims for retaliation and discrimination under Title VII against the City of Philadelphia, and claims for retaliation under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and claims for invasion of privacy under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City and since-dismissed individual defendants. None of his complaints contained a PHRA claim.

On March 5, 1999, plaintiffs William McKenna, Raymond Carnation, and several former plaintiffs filed a separate suit, Case No. 99-1163, in this Court. These plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on June 29, 1999. Their suit brought Title VII retaliation claims against the City, § 1981 retaliation and discrimination claims against the City and since-dismissed individual defendants, and § 1983 claims for deprivation of procedural and substantive due process against the City and the individual defendants. The suit did not bring a PHRA claim.

The two cases were consolidated for discovery on May 4, 2000.

In May, 2001, all plaintiffs in Case No. 99-1163 except William McKenna and Raymond Carnation voluntarily dismissed their claims. On May 29, 2001, plaintiff William McKenna moved to amend his complaint to add a claim for wrongful discharge under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983. This motion was denied.

On January 17, 2003, after Michael McKenna, William McKenna, and Raymond Carnation had voluntarily dismissed their § 1981 claims and their claims against certain individual defendants, this Court granted summary judgment against them on the remaining claims. All three plaintiffs appealed and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed the grant of summary judgment in an opinion issued August 13, 2006. The decision found that the plaintiffs had presented sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether they had suffered unlawful retaliation under Title VII and remanded the case for further proceedings.

After remand, the plaintiffs moved to amend their complaints to add § 1983 first amendment retaliation claims against individual defendants originally named in their complaints and to add claims of wrongful termination against the City and the individual defendants. The plaintiffs' motion did not seek to add PHRA claims. The Court denied the motion in a Memorandum and Order of May 15, 2007. Docket No. 100 in Case 98-5835; Docket No. 121 in Case 99-1163. In that Memorandum and Order, after reviewing the procedural history and briefing on appeal and the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the Court interpreted the appellate decision as remanding only the plaintiffs' claims for retaliation under Title VII against the City. The Court then denied the plaintiffs' motion to amend their complaints to add § 1983 first amendment retaliation claims against the individual defendants or add claims for wrongful termination.

The plaintiffs then filed an "omnibus" motion seeking alternatively to have the Court reconsider its May 15, 2007, ruling, to have the Court certify the issue for interlocutory appeal, or to have the Court stay the case so that the plaintiffs could file a writ of mandamus. Neither the plaintiffs' initial motion or memorandum of law, or their reply brief, mentioned the PHRA. The plaintiffs attached to their reply brief in support of this motion a proposed "second amended complaint" in each case, which they sought to file, if the Court granted reconsideration. Although not mentioned in the plaintiff's briefing, these proposed second amended complaints each contained a proposed new claim under the PHRA.

The Court ruled on the "omnibus" motion in an Order entered November 28, 2007. Docket No. 104 in Case No. 98-5835, Docket No. 125 in Case No. 99-1163. The Court granted reconsideration as to plaintiff Raymond Carnation's claims for wrongful termination because the complaint in Case No. 99-1163 specifically mentioned his termination as one of the consequences of the defendant's unlawful retaliation. The Court therefore ruled that Raymond Carnation could seek to recover damages for his termination at trial. The Court denied reconsideration of all other aspects of its May 15, 2007, Memorandum ...


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