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Tighe v. Purchase

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

December 30, 2014

MATTHEW TIGHE, Plaintiff,
v.
ERIC J. PURCHASE, personal administrator of the Estate of Mona Buschak, individually and in her official capacity as President of the General McLane School Board; and THE GENERAL MCLANE SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM ORDER

TERRENCE F. McVERRY, Senior District Judge.

Pending before the Court are the following motions in limine:

(1) Plaintiff's MOTION IN LIMINE TO INTRODUCE EVIDENCE OF INTENT (ECF No. 105);

(2) Plaintiff's MOTION IN LIMINE REGARDING ADOPTION OF AMENDED 903 POLICY AT OCTOBER 20, 2010 MEETING (ECF No. 107);

(3) Plaintiff's MOTION IN LIMINE TO INTRODUCE EVIDENCE OF TURBINE PROJECTS AND OFFICE OF OPEN RECORDS PROCEEDINGS (ECF No. 109);

(4) Plaintiff's MOTION IN LIMINE TO PRECLUDE EVIDENCE OF JANUARY 8, 2010 INCIDENT (ECF No. 111);

(5) Plaintiff's MOTION IN LIMINE TO PRECLUDE EVIDENCE OF SCHOOL SHOOTINGS (ECF No. 113); and

(6) DEFENDANTS' MOTION IN LIMINE (ECF No. 115). The motions have been extensively briefed and are ripe for disposition. (ECF Nos. 106, 108, 110, 112, 116, 119, 121, 122, 123).

I. Background

This hotly contested civil rights action arises out of a series of General McLane School Board meetings that took place on August 18, 2010; October 20, 2010; November 17, 2010; and December 8, 2010. From 2009 until the time period at issue in this case, Plaintiff, a resident and taxpayer in the General McLane School District, was a frequent attendee and participant at the School Board's monthly meetings. In his six-count Amended Complaint, Plaintiff raised various First Amendment-based claims against Mona Buschak, the now-deceased former president of the General McLane School Board; Rick Scaletta, the superintendent of the General McLane School District; and the General McLane School District.[1] Plaintiff also alleged claims for false arrest and malicious prosecution, based on his arrest and subsequent prosecution following the December 8, 2010, meeting of the School Board.

After the close of discovery, both Plaintiff and Defendants moved for summary judgment - Plaintiff with respect to the claims related to the August 18 and October 20, 2010, meetings and Defendants with respect to all of Plaintiff's claims. In ruling on the parties' motions, the Court held that Defendants were entitled to summary judgment on each of Plaintiff's claims except for those against Buschak stemming from the August 18, 2010, meeting. The Court also held, however, that because Buschak was the School District's final policymaker with respect to School District action taken during the Recognition of Visitors portion of the Board's meetings, the School District could be held liable under Monell for Buschak's conduct at the August 18th meeting.[2] Accordingly, only a narrow First Amendment claim remains for trial. A trial date has not yet been scheduled. However, following the filing of this Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Court will issue a separate Trial Scheduling Order via CM/ECF.

II. Discussion

As a result of the Court's rulings with respect to the parties' motions for summary judgment, the sole question for the jury to decide will be whether Buschak acted with an impermissible intent in cutting off Plaintiff's presentation at the August 18, 2010, meeting. That is, was she acting only to maintain order? Or was Plaintiff's viewpoint or identity - and not concern regarding actual disruption of the meeting - the reason behind her decision? Though the parties' motions raise various issues, they focus largely on the extent to which evidence related to Plaintiff's prior and subsequent presentations to the Board is relevant to deciding this question. Because there is significant overlap of the issues raised in Plaintiff's first, second, and third motions (ECF Nos. 105, 107, and 109) and Defendants' motion, these motions will be addressed ...


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