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Robert A. Dombrosky v. Raymond Banach

August 10, 2012

ROBERT A. DOMBROSKY,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
RAYMOND BANACH, ROBERT BROWN, LESTER BUCHANAN, ROBERT EWBANK, PAUL FISCHER, RICHARD GASSMAN, JAMES MUIR, ROBERT STEVENS, CHAD STEWART, EASTERN PIKE REGIONAL POLICE COMMISSION, AND WESTFALL TOWNSHIP DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (judge Caputo)

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court are two motions for reconsideration of the Memorandum issued on May 24, 2012 (Doc. 139) and Revised Order issued on June 1, 2012. (Doc. 141.) Plaintiff Robert Dombrosky seeks reconsideration of the Revised Order granting summary judgment for the Eastern Pike Regional Police Commissioners and its Chief of Police,*fn1 and Mr. Dombrosky also seeks reconsideration of the denial of his summary judgment motion on his due process claim. (Doc. 144.) The Westfall Defendants*fn2 seek clarification and reconsideration of the Court's Revised Order. (Doc. 142.) For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's motion will be denied and the Westfall Defendants' motion for reconsideration will be denied, but the Westfall Defendants' motion for clarification will be granted as they may proceed to trial on their cross-claims against the Eastern Pike Regional Police Commission.

I. Background

As the facts are set forth in detail in my May 24, 2012 Memorandum, it is unnecessary to repeat them here at length. It is enough to state that this action stems from Plaintiff Robert Dombrosky's former employment as a police officer with the Westfall Township Police Department ("WTPD"). After being charged with a crime, Mr. Dombrosky agreed to take an unpaid leave of absence pending the disposition of the charges. In the meantime, Westfall Township entered into an agreement with Matamoras Borough to merge their respective police departments into a new regionalized police department, to be known as the Eastern Pike Police Department ("EPPD"). Mr. Dombrosky attempted to return to work upon his acquittal, but he was advised that due to the merger, his position no longer existed. This action was then commenced by Mr. Dombrosky against Westfall Township, the Westfall Township Supervisors, the Eastern Pike Regional Police Commission, the Eastern Pike Regional Police Commissioners, and the chief of police of the EPPD.

II. Discussion

A. Legal Standard

A motion for reconsideration is governed by Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which allows a party to move to alter or amend a judgment within twenty-eight (28) days of entry. Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e). Alternatively, when the reconsideration motion is not to amend or alter the judgment pursuant to Rule 59, Middle District of Pennsylvania Local Rule 7.10 allows a party to seek reconsideration within fourteen(14) days of entry of an order. "The purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir.1985) (citation omitted). A judgment may be altered or amended if the party seeking reconsideration establishes at least one of the following grounds: "(1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court granted the motion; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice." Max's Seafood Cafe, by Lou Ann, Inc., v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir.1999). "A motion for reconsideration is not to be used as a means to reargue matters already argued and disposed of or as an attempt to relitigate a point of disagreement between the Court and the litigant." Ogden v. Keystone Residence, 226 F. Supp. 2d 588, 606 (M.D. Pa. 2002). "[R]econsideration motions may not be used to raise new arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment." Hill v. Tammac Corp., No. 05 1148, 2006 WL 529044, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Mar. 3, 2006). Lastly, the reconsideration of a judgment is an extraordinary remedy, and such motions should be granted sparingly. D'Angio v. Borough of Nescopeck, 56 F. Supp. 2d 502, 504 (M.D. Pa.1999).

B. Mr. Dombrosky's Motion for Reconsideration

Mr. Dombrosky requests reconsideration of ¶ 3 of the Revised Order insofar as it grants summary judgment to the Eastern Pike Regional Police Commissioners and Chief of Police Stewart. Additionally, Mr. Dombrosky seeks reconsideration of ¶ 4(b) of the Revised Order which denied his motion for summary judgment on his due process claims. Mr. Dombrosky's motion for reconsideration will be denied because there is no clear error of fact or law that needs to be corrected to prevent a manifest injustice from occurring.

First, as to the grant of summary judgment to the Eastern Pike Regional Police Commissioners and Chief of Police Stewart, I noted previously that the Eastern Pike Defendants were not a party to the agreement between Westfall Township and Mr. Dombrosky that he would be reinstated upon an acquittal of his criminal charges. (Doc. 139, 16.) Mr. Dombrosky argues, however, that although this finding supports the dismissal of the Commission, it is immaterial to the liability of the Eastern Pike Commissioner Defendants and Chief of Police Stewart whom Plaintiff claims all individually participated in depriving him of his constitutional rights. I disagree. In particular, as these individual Defendants were not parties to the agreement with Mr. Dombrosky, they were not responsible for not intervening or acquiescing in an employment decision with Plaintiff as he was never employed by the Commission. And, it is for that reason that Defendants Brown, Buchanan, and Fisher were all dismissed in their capacity as Eastern Pike Regional Police Commissioners but not as Westfall Township Supervisors. (Doc. 141, ¶ 3.) And, because Defendants Gassman and Stevens were not Westfall Township Supervisors at the time Mr. Dombrosky reached his agreement with Westfall Township, they were not parties to that agreement and they were properly dismissed from this action. Lastly, Police Chief Stewart was properly dismissed from this action because his conduct in making a list of active police officers that did not include Mr. Dombrosky (because he was still on unpaid leave at the time) did not violate Plaintiff's rights. Accordingly, Mr. Dombrosky's motion for reconsideration of ¶ 3 of the Revised Order will be denied.

Second, Mr. Dombrosky seeks reconsideration of the denial of summary judgment on his due process claim. As to the Eastern Pike Defendants, I previously determined that Plaintiff's theory of successor liability does not apply and therefore his motion for reconsideration as to the due process claim against the Eastern Pike Defendants will be denied. Additionally, as to the Westfall Defendants, Mr. Dombrosky argues that "the court was diverted by the 'reorganization exception,' whereby a public employee's substitute right to his employment is circumscribed where a government abolishes a department or position or reduces its workforce for economic reasons." However, as Plaintiff has not presented any previously unavailable evidence or demonstrated a clear error of fact or law and he merely raises previously rejected arguments, Mr. Dombrosky's motion for reconsideration as to the denial of summary judgment on his due process claim will be denied.

In sum, because Mr. Dombrosky has not identified any manifest errors or law or fact in his motion, his request for reconsideration will be denied.

C. The Westfall Defendants' Motion for Clarification and Reconsideration

The Westfall Defendants seek clarification or reconsideration on three issues. First, the Westfall Defendants assert that an injustice would be created if their cross-claims against the Eastern Pike Regional Police Commission were dismissed because they have a separate and distinct basis for indemnification and contribution against the Commission for Plaintiff's claims. Second, the Westfall Defendants assert that I improperly interpreted the language of the Regionalization Agreement. Lastly, they argue that finding the Westfall ...


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