Before the Court in this civil rights action is Defendants James Creedon ("Creedon"), Connie Tennis ("Tennis"), Richard Shaffer ("Shaffer"), and Gregory Green's ("Green") (collectively, "Defendants") Motion for Summary Judgment ("the Motion"). (Doc. 11). For the reasons articulated in this Memorandum, the Court will grant the Motion. An appropriate Order dismissing the action shall enter.
This is the second in a series of lawsuits*fn1 filed by Plaintiff Michael Schmidt ("Plaintiff" or "Schmidt"). Plaintiff initiated the present action by filing a Complaint on February 19, 2009, seeking damages pursuant to the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claimsthat Defendants violated his Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process rights when they terminated his employment. Defendants filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants' Statement of Material and Undisputed Facts, and brief in support of the Motion on December 1, 2009. (Docs. 11, 12, 13). Plaintiff filed a brief in opposition to the Motion on December 15, 2009. (Doc. 14). Defendants elected not to reply, and, therefore, this matter is ripe for disposition.
Summary judgment is appropriate if the record establishes "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Initially, the moving party bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The movant meets this burden by pointing to an absence of evidence supporting an essential element as to which the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 325. Once the moving party meets its burden, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to show that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2). An issue is "genuine" only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find for the non-moving party, and a factual dispute is "material" only if it might affect the outcome of the action under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc, 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986).
In opposing summary judgment, the non-moving party "may not rely merely on allegations of denials in its own pleadings; rather, its response must ... set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2). The non-moving party "cannot rely on unsupported allegations, but must go beyond pleadings and provide some evidence that would show that there exists a genuine issue for trial." Jones v. United Parcel Serv., 214 F.3d 402, 407 (3d Cir. 2000). Arguments made in briefs "are not evidence and cannot by themselves create a factual dispute sufficient to defeat a summary judgment motion." Jersey Cent. Power & Light Co. v. Twp. of Lacey, 772 F.2d 1103, 1109-10 (3d Cir. 1985). However, the facts and all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non- moving party. P.N. v. Clementon Bd. of Educ., 442 F.3d 848, 852 (3d Cir. 2006).
Summary judgment should not be granted when there is a disagreement about the facts or the proper inferences that a factfinder could draw from them. Peterson v. Lehigh Valley Dist. Council, 676 F.2d 81, 84 (3d Cir. 1982). Still, "the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; there must be a genuine issue of material fact to preclude summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48.
The following facts and inferences are derived from either the Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 1) or the Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Facts (Doc. 12) and are viewed in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff. If a fact is in dispute, it shall be indicated as such. Otherwise, the facts as detailed are undisputed on the record.
A. Schmidt's Suspension and Termination
Plaintiff is employed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of General Services, Capitol Police ("Capitol Police") as an Officer.(Doc. 1 ¶ 3). Defendant Tennis was, at all relevant times, the Chief of Labor Relations, Bureau of Human Resources for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of General Services. (Doc. 1 ¶ 4). Defendant Creedon was, at all relevant times, the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of General Services. (Doc. 1 ¶ 5). Defendant Shaffer was, at all relevant times, the Superintendent of the Capitol Police. (Doc. 1 ¶ 6). Defendant Green was, at all relevant times, the Director of the Bureau of Human Resources in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of General Services. (Doc. 1 ¶ 7).
Plaintiff gained employment with the Capitol Police in November of 2002. (Doc. 12 ¶ 13). On July 15, 2006, Schmidt was approached by another officer before his shift began and asked if there was a union representative. (Doc. 12 ¶ 17). In response, Plaintiff documented into the METRO*fn2 reporting system that the officer made a complaint.*fn3 (Doc. 12 ¶ 18). Plaintiff's entry noted accusations of harassment, obstruction of justice, and official oppression, against three Capitol Police officials: Defendant Shaffer, Deputy Superintendent Robert Dillard, and Special Investigator Robert J. Rapak.*fn4 (Doc. 12 ¶ 19). Schmidt was stationed at an area that did not have a METRO computer, and therefore he went, without permission, to the dispatch center to enter the complaint.*fn5 (Doc. 12 ¶ 20). Defendant Shaffer ...