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Stevens v. Borough

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

August 14, 2014

TELFORD BOROUGH, et al., Defendants.


C. DARNELL JONES, II, District Judge.

In his Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff David Stevens ("Stevens") brought two Counts, alleging, inter alia, civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Telford Borough (the "Borough"), Randall Floyd and Mark Fournier (collectively, "Defendants"). Pending before the Court are the cross-motions for summary judgment filed by Plaintiff David Stevens (Dkt. No. 43) and Defendants (Dkt. No. 41), and the responses thereto. After a thorough review of the record, and for the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED and Plaintiff's Motion is DENIED.

I. Facts

a. Stevens' Employment

Plaintiff David Stevens ("Stevens") was hired as a part-time police officer outside Civil Service regulations by Telford Borough (the "Borough") on June 2, 2008. (Def.s' SUF ¶¶ 1-2.) Stevens was never a member of the Telford Borough Police Officers Association-the bargaining unit which represents the Borough's full-time officers-nor a signatory of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Officers Association and the Borough. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 3.) Stevens was paid an hourly wage of $16.00 per hour, which later rose to $17.00 per hour. (Def.s' SUF ¶¶ 5-6). Stevens did not receive any healthcare or pension benefits from the Borough. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 7.). Additionally, Stevens held outside employment while working for the Borough. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 12.)[1]

While there is no express contract between Stevens and the Borough outlining the parameters of his employment, there was communication between the parties on this issue. Each year of his employment with the Borough-2008, 2009, and 2010-Stevens requested (and the Borough provided) letters stating that he was a part-time employee and was thus ineligible for Borough health benefits. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 14.) Additionally, on September 20, 2008 and again on March 23, 2010, Stevens signed a statement acknowledging that he received and understood the Telford Borough Police Department's Policy Manual and Rules and Procedures (the "Manual").[2] (Pl.'s SUF ¶ 2.)[3] Also, on two separate occasions, Stevens received memoranda from the chief outlining the supplemental and auxiliary nature of his position. (Def.s' SUF ¶ ¶ 16-17.)

Though Chief Floyd requested that the Borough Council hire Stevens as a full-time officer in the summer of 2010, ultimately the Borough Council declined to do so. (Def.s' SUF ¶¶ 26-27.)

b. Events of August 18

On August 18, 2010, Stevens refused a shift offered to him by the Borough. He told the requesting officer that "he had not been feeling well and had other things to do." (Def.s' SUF ¶¶ 28-29.) That day, Stevens called Officer Minninger and told him that he observed fleas and flies in his house, and a mouse and snake in his bedroom. (Def.'s SUF ¶ 30.) He also stated that he might have been bitten by the snake. Id. Stevens, however, told Minninger that he was not sure whether he had been dreaming or awake during this episode. Id. [4] After speaking with Minninger, Stevens traveled to Home Depot and purchased chemicals to clear his house of pests. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 31.)[5]

Defendants assert that "Stevens stopped by the police station later that day while off-duty, and had a conversation with Detective Fox and Officer Minninger about what he thought happened that day." (Def.s' SUF ¶ 31.) Stevens denies this assertion, claiming that he was ordered by the senior officers to come to the station. (Pl.'s CSUF ¶ 33.) During his deposition, Stevens repeatedly testified that he was "asked" to "stop into" the police station. (Def.s' Ex. 2, 146: 22-23, 147:10-11, 148:1-2, 149:25, 150:1-2, 153:8-9). After Stevens appeared at the Police Station, Officer Fox indicated to Stevens that he should see the department physician, Dr. Bimson.[6] (Def.s' SUF ¶ 36.)

Even though Stevens did not believe that Fox had the authority to require that he see the physician, Stevens saw the departmental doctor. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 39.) During this meeting, Stevens described his gastro-intestinal issues, as well as the possible hallucinations to Doctor Bimson. (Def.s' SUP ¶ 40.) The doctor noted that he became "suspicious of a drug interaction or possible illicit drug use or alcohol abuse" by Stevens. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 41.) Subsequently, Dr. Bimson requested that Stevens take a blood test-an order with which Stevens never complied. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 42-43.)

After the incident, Stevens returned to work with a doctor's permission. There was no cause for additional concern until the morning of October 15, 2010. (Pl.'s SUF ¶ 13.)

c. Separation

On the morning of October 15, 2010 Stevens spoke with Officer Minninger during a shift change around 8:00 a.m. At the time of the meeting, Stevens admitted to feeling tired and lethargic. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 45.) During the conversation, Stevens informed Minninger that he had ceased taking his medication and suffered a series of symptoms as a result: "1) difficulty maintaining train of thought; 2) problems sequencing of things he was doing; and 3) extreme fatigue." (Def.s' SUF ¶¶ 46, 48.) Later that day, Officer Minninger contacted Chief Floyd and apprised him of concerns regarding Stevens' behavior. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 49.) Stevens subsequently called Officer Minninger to inform Minninger that he was unable to work his scheduled shift the following day, October 16, 2010. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 51.)

Five days later, on October 20, Stevens met once more with Dr. Bimson. During that meeting, Bimson's notes again reflect his desire "to check labs to rule out metabolic abnormalities or illicit drug use" by Stevens. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 53.) Stevens testified that Bimson ordered him to have blood work done. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 54.) On the following day, October 21, Stevens went to Quest Diagnostics and underwent the ordered test. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 55.) Quest, however, misplaced the blood specimen. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 57.) On October 21, Officer Minninger drafted a memo addressed to Chief Floyd expressing concerns about Stevens' condition. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 58.)

On or about October 27, 2010, Chief Floyd met with Stevens at the police station. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 59.) During that meeting, Chief Floyd informed Stevens that he could take as much time away from the Department as he needed to address his health problems. (Pl.'s SUF ¶ 17.) According to Chief Floyd's notes following the meeting, Floyd asked Stevens to do three things before he came back to work: continue taking his medication, submit to a medical examination, and complete a psychological evaluation. (Pl.'s SUF ¶ 18.) There was no deadline given to Stevens for the completion of these tasks. Id.

On November 5, 2010 Chief Floyd traveled to Stevens' residence and insisted that Stevens come with him and take a drug test. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 63.) Stevens refused. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 64.)[7] Two days later, on November 7, 2010 Stevens received a message from Chief Floyd asking for his resignation. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 68.) During that message, Floyd stated, "I'm going to give you the opportunity to resign rather than be terminatedPlease return all department equipment, your ID and anything TBPD related along with a letter of resignation." (Pl.'s Ex. 8.)

Before tendering his resignation, Stevens offered to take the blood test. (Pl.'s SUF ¶ 36.) However, on November 9, 2010, Stevens tendered his resignation. (Def.s' SUF ¶ 69.) Subsequently, at his deposition, Stevens testified that he never attempted to revoke his resignation, nor did he ever request a hearing to contest the circumstances surrounding his resignation. (Def.s' SUF ¶¶ 70-71.) On January 27, 2014, more than three years after his termination-and two ...

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