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Wellington Stubbs v. Michael Nutter

January 27, 2012


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



In this case, plaintiff Wellington Stubbs alleges that defendants unlawfully forced him from his position as Chief Investigator for Philadelphia's Police Advisory Commission ("PAC"). According to plaintiff, defendants investigated his Philadelphia residency and then constructively discharged him because he had referred an individual to the press in a matter involving a complaint of illegal police conduct. Plaintiff asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against five individual defendants and the City of Philadelphia. Presently before the Court is defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the motion.


A. The Parties

Plaintiff Wellington Stubbs was employed by the PAC from March 12, 2002, to November 13, 2009. (Defs.' Statement Facts ¶¶ A-1, B-21.) In June 2004, he received a promotion and became the PAC's Chief Investigator. (Am. Compl. ¶ 14.) The PAC, which is part of the office of Philadelphia's Managing Director, "advise[s] the Managing Director and the Police Commissioner on policies and actions of the Police Department with the purpose of improving the ability of police personnel to carry out their duties, and to improve the relationship between the Police Department and the community." (Exec. Order No. 8-93 § 4(a), Mot. Summ. J. Defs. Mayor Michael Nutter, Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison, City of Philadelphia, Bill Johnson Tim Reddick & Cary King ("Defs.' Mot.") Ex. 7.) Among other duties, the PAC investigates citizen complaints regarding police misconduct. (Id. § 4(d).)

Defendant Michael Nutter is the Mayor of Philadelphia. (Defs.' Statement Facts ¶ A-2.) During the events at issue, defendant Everett Gillison was Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and had supervisory and budgetary authority over the PAC.*fn2 (Id. ¶ A-3.) Defendant Bill Johnson is Executive Director of the PAC and was plaintiff's direct supervisor there. (Id. ¶ A-4.) When the relevant events occurred, defendant Tim Reddick was Director of Fraud and Special Investigations in the City Controller's Office. (Id. ¶ A-5.) Defendant Cary King, an investigator in the City Controller's Office, assisted defendant Reddick with the residency investigation at issue in this case. (Id. ¶ A-6.) The City of Philadelphia is also a defendant. (Id. ¶ A-7.)

B. Facts

On December 8, 2008, plaintiff interviewed a confidential police informant named Ventura Martinez at the PAC office. (Id. ¶ B-5.) Martinez had filed a complaint with the PAC stating that he "felt threatened by a police officer and a drug dealer with whom he had been working." (Id.) Martinez stated, inter alia, that police officer Jeffrey Cujdik had been taking money Martinez earned as an informant. (Martinez Interview Report, Defs.' Mot. Ex. 11 ("Martinez Interview Report") 4-6.) In exchange, Cujdik leased Martinez an apartment. (Id.) Cujdik allegedly threatened to "kill" Martinez if he told anyone about the arrangement. (Id. at 6.) Neighborhood drug dealers had also recently learned of Martinez's role as an informant, and Martinez feared for his safety. (Id. at 2-9.)

During the interview, plaintiff gave Martinez the contact information of Wendy Ruderman, a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News. (Defs.' Statement Facts ¶ B-6.) Plaintiff testified that he did this because he believed Ruderman had "more contacts" than he did and thus might "be able to help [Martinez] and perhaps get him to witness protection." (Stubbs Dep. 33:3-5, Defs.' Mot. Ex. 12 ("Stubbs Dep.").) Martinez contacted Ruderman and gave her information that she used to write an award-winning series of articles about Philadelphia police corruption titled "Tainted Justice," which appeared in the Daily News beginning on February 9, 2009. (Defs.' Statement Facts ¶ B-9.)

Defendant Gillison learned of the articles in February 2009, when Ruderman requested his comments. (Gillison Dep. 47:1-15, Defs.' Mot. Ex. 3 ("Gillison Dep.").) The record before the Court does not explain how Gillison discovered plaintiff's involvement, but shortly after Ruderman contacted him, Gillison asked to meet with plaintiff and his supervisor, defendant Johnson. (Defs.' Statement Facts ¶ B-8.) Gillison told plaintiff that he "exercised poor judgment in referring Martinez to the Daily News reporter." (Id. ¶ B-10.)

Approximately eight months later, on October 20, 2009, the Controller's Office issued a Special Investigations Report concluding that plaintiff had violated city residency requirements, failed to pay city wage tax, failed to disclose outside income, and used excessive undocumented sick leave. (Defs.' Statement Facts ¶ B-15.) Defendants Reddick and King, who had conducted the investigation, signed the Special Investigations Report. (See Special Investigations Report, Defs.' Mot. Ex. 14, at 10.) Defendants assert that the investigation began approximately three months before plaintiff spoke with Martinez, but plaintiff disagrees.*fn3 After the report was released, Gillison, Johnson, and plaintiff had another meeting, and at some point, Gillison told plaintiff he either had to resign or be terminated. (Defs.' Statement Facts ¶¶ B-17 to B-19.) On November 13, 2009, plaintiff notified Gillison via email that he was resigning from his position with the PAC. (Id. ¶ B-21.)

C. The Instant Action

On July 1, 2010, plaintiff filed his Complaint in this Court. By Memorandum and Order of August 30, 2010, the Court granted defendants' Motion to Dismiss in Part, see Stubbs v. Nutter, No. 10-3200, 2010 WL 3421015 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 30, 2010), and plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. In the Amended Complaint, plaintiff asserts claims under Section 1983 against all defendants. Defendants have moved for ...

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