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Foglesong v. Somerset County

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

September 26, 2014

SAMUEL SCOTT FOGLESONG, Plaintiff,
v.
SOMERSET COUNTY, and LISA LAZZARI-STRASISER, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

KIM R. GIBSON, District Judge.

I. SYNOPSIS

This political patronage discrimination cases is before the Court on Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 34). The parties have completed discovery and have briefed the Court on the pending motion. This matter is now ripe for disposition. Accordingly, and for the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion will be GRANTED.

II. JURSIDICTION AND VENUE

The Court exercises subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343. Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2) because a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred in the Western District of Pennsylvania.

III. BACKGROUND

This case stems from the election of Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser ("Defendant Lazzari-Strasiser") as the Somerset County District Attorney and her subsequent hiring decisions in the District Attorney's Office. Samuel Scott Foglesong ("Plaintiff") initiated this action against Defendant Lazzari-Strasiser and Somerset County ("Defendants") after Defendant Lazzari-Strasiser declined to reappoint Plaintiff as a detective in the Somerset County District Attorney's Office. Plaintiff has asserted a political patronage claim against Defendants Somerset County and Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

As an initial matter, the Court notes that Plaintiff has not filed a responsive concise statement of material facts in accordance with the Local Rules for the Western District, and this Court's own rules and procedures. As this Court has previously noted,

The Federal Rules clearly state that "[a] party asserting that a fact... is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by... citing to particular parts of materials in the record..." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). This district's Local Rules set a similar standard, indicating that Responsive Concise Statements of Material Facts must address each paragraph of the moving party's Concise Statement of Material Facts by: (a) admitting or denying whether each fact is undisputed and/or material; (b) if applicable, setting forth the basis for the denial of any fact, with appropriate reference to the record; and (c) setting forth in separately numbered paragraphs any other material facts at issue. LCvR 56.C.1.a. Further, any facts set forth in the moving party's Concise Statement of Material Facts, which are claimed to be undisputed, "will be deemed admitted unless specifically denied or otherwise controverted by a separate concise statement of the opposing party." LCvR 56.E.

Rozier v. United Metal Fabricators, Inc., No 3:09-cv-257, 2012 WL 170197, at *2 (W.D. Pa. Jan. 19, 2012). Local Rule 56.C.1 requires the non-moving party to respond to each numbered paragraph contained in the moving party's concise statement of material facts in a separately filed document.

Here, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is accompanied by a detailed concise statement of material facts that complies with the Local Rules of this District and the rules of this Court. Each separately numbered paragraph contains a specific statement of fact that Defendants contend are undisputed and material, and which are supported by a reference to the record. ( See ECF No. 36).

Conversely, Plaintiff did not file a responsive statement of facts, but instead simply makes a broad reference to Defendants' concise statement in his brief in opposition to summary judgment. (ECF NO. 38 at 1-2). Plaintiff's brief purports to pay "some extra attention" to certain evidence in the record, but this "extra attention" falls far short of the Western District's and this Court's requirements for summary judgment motions. Simply stated, Plaintiff failed to respond to Defendants' concise statement of material facts, failed to admit or deny any of Defendants' stated facts, failed to provide a basis for any such denial, and failed to set forth any additional facts for this Court to consider. Thus, given "Plaintiff's [failure] to comply with the rules, the Court sees no other choice but to follow previous practice, and accordingly deems as admitted all facts" set forth in Defendants' concise statement of material facts. Guyton v. Bacher, No. 3:12-cv-27, 2014 WL 3942813, at * 2 (W.D. Pa. Aug. 12, 2014). Accordingly, the following facts are not in dispute.[1]

In January 2006, Plaintiff was hired as a Detective in the Somerset County District Attorney's Office. (ECF No. 36 ¶ 2). Plaintiff was a subordinate to Chief Detective Hunter during Mr. Jerry Spangler's tenure as Somerset County District Attorney. ( Id. ¶ 6). In November 2011, Defendant Lazzari-Strasiser, a Democrat, ran against Mr. Spangler, a Republican, in the election for the Somerset County District Attorney. ( Id. ¶¶ 4, 8, 9). Plaintiff, a Democrat, supported Spangler in the election. ( Id. ¶¶ 7, 9).

Plaintiff did not distribute any campaign materials for Mr. Spangler during the election. ( Id. ¶ 10). Plaintiff does not recall giving anyone positive opinions about Mr. Spangler prior to the November 2011 election. ( Id. ¶ 11). Plaintiff did not attend any fundraising events for Mr. Spangler. ( Id. ¶ 12). Plaintiff did not attend any other election activities, post-election events, or post-election parties. ( Id. ¶¶ 14, 15).

However, Plaintiff voted for Spangler on election day. ( Id. ¶ 13). Also, prior to the November 2011 election, Plaintiff put signs for Spangler in his yard. ( Id. ¶ 16). Plaintiff does not know whether anyone in the District Attorney's Office was aware that he had signs in his yard for Spangler. ( Id. ¶ 17). Further, he did not make it known in the District Attorney's Office that he was voting for Spangler, nor did he say that he opposed Defendant Lazzari-Strasiser. ( Id. ¶ 82).

Defendant Lazzari-Strasiser knew Chief Detective Hunter prior to the election because their children played sports together. ( Id. ¶ 19). She knew Chief Detective Hunter, in his official capacity, to be a good detective who did his job, who had been a detective for a long time, and who knew Somerset County. ( Id. ¶ 20).

Pennsylvania State Police Corporal William Link supported Defendant Lazzari-Strasiser in the election and campaigned on her behalf. ( Id. ¶ 23). Corporal Link recommended that Defendant should hire retired Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Jeffrey Doman as a detective, if she were elected. ( Id. ¶ 24). Corporal Link introduced Mr. Doman to Defendant Lazzari-Strasiser and she gave Mr. Doman campaign cards to pass out. ( Id. ¶ 27).

Additionally, Corporal Link advised Defendant Lazzari-Strasiser regarding both ADA J. J. Jacobs' performance and Plaintiff's performance as detectives in the District Attorney's Office. Corporal Link told Defendant Lazzari-Strasiser that ADA Jacobs fell asleep during hearings, that he would not show up for preliminary hearings, and that law enforcement personnel believed he was rude and short in his dealings with them. ( Id. ¶ 29). Corporal Link also told Defendant Lazzari-Strasiser that Plaintiff was responsible for assisting the state police with camera equipment, but on one occasion had failed to show up with the equipment during an investigation. ( Id. ¶ 49).

Defendant Lazzari-Strasiser was personally familiar with ADA Schellhammer and believed that she was rude, disrespectful, and condescending. ( Id. ¶ 31). Sergeant Anthony Deluca provided information reinforcing Defendant Lazzari-Strasiser's information and ...


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