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Goff v. Kutztown University

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

October 22, 2014

SCOTT N. GOFF, Plaintiff
v.
KUTZTOWN UNIVERSITY, et al., Defendants

Page 476

For SCOTT N. GOFF, Plaintiff: BROOKE MARTIN BOYER, LEAD ATTORNEY, BROOKE MARTIN BOYER, ESQUIRE, READING, PA.

For KUTZTOWN UNIVERSITY, JOHN DILLON, Defendants: KEVIN R. BRADFORD, LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

Page 477

MEMORANDUM

LAWRENCE F. STENGEL, J.

This is a civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by Scott N. Goff against his former employer Kutztown University, alleging a violation of his free speech rights under the First Amendment to the Constitution, and two violations of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. He also brings a claim of retaliation against John Dillon, the University's Chief of Police. The defendants have filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The plaintiff responded to the motion by conceding that the three counts against Defendant Kutztown University should be dismissed, but argued that because the count against Defendant Dillon was brought in his personal or individual capacity,[1] it should survive

Page 478

the motion to dismiss. For the reasons that follow, I will grant the motion in its entirety.

I. BACKGROUND[2]

On December 21, 2010, Kutztown University hired the plaintiff as a full-time police officer with a temporary appointment. In September 2011, Mr. Goff's employment status was changed when he received a permanent appointment as a full-time university police officer earning approximately $16.80 per hour. The terms of his appointment were governed by a Collective Bargaining Agreement that provided that his appointment was subject to a six month probationary period.[3] The complaint alleges that Mr. Goff successfully completed the probationary period on March 21, 2012, and the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement provided that he could not be terminated except for " just cause."

In February 2012, Mr. Goff received a phone call from the wife of another university police officer who said that her husband had threatened her with a gun. She asked Mr. Goff if he would help her select a gun for her self-defense. Sometime later, Mr. Goff received another phone call from the same woman, and based on that conversation, he believed that the woman was in imminent danger of deadly harm from her estranged husband. Mr. Goff called the State Police to have them intervene to protect her. The defendants claim in their motion to dismiss that Mr. Goff and the woman were having a romantic relationship at the time, a fact omitted in the complaint. Mr. Goff and the woman were subsequently married.

The State Police called Defendant John Dillon, the Chief of the University Police Force, and informed him that Mr. Goff had made a report of the other officer's conduct to the State Police. The following day, Chief Dillon gave a copy of an incident report to Mr. Goff's supervisor who asked the plaintiff about his motives in making the report, and whether there were existing problems between the two officers which led him to make the report. The plaintiff told his supervisor that there were no problems between the two officers, and that he had made the report because of the involvement of a gun and the threat of deadly harm to the officer's wife.

Shortly thereafter, Mr. Goff received a letter from Kutztown's Human Relations Department informing him that he was required to ...


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