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Adamitis v. Borough of Dickson City

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 19, 2017

ANTHONY ADAMITIS Plaintiff,
v.
BOROUGH OF DICKSON CITY, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          A. Richard Caputo, United States District Judge

         Presently before me is a motion to dismiss (Doc. 11) Plaintiff Anthony Adamitis' Amended Complaint (Doc. 10) filed by Defendants Borough of Dickson City, Rick Cesar, Michael Fedorka, Robert Hall, Jack Horvath, Jeffrey Kovaleski, Rose Louryk, and Barbara Mecca (collectively “Defendants”).

         Plaintiff alleges violations of his First Amendment rights when Defendants retaliated against him for supporting, campaigning, and associating with Georgia Adamitis and Paul Kwiec in their campaign for Borough of Dickson City Council in 2015. (Doc. 10, at ¶ 26).

         For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint will be granted.

         I. Factual Background

         The facts, as set forth in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. 10), are as follows:

         Plaintiff Anthony Adamitis is an elected Tax Collector for the Borough of Dickson City. Plaintiff was an active supporter of his wife, Georgia Adamitis, and Paul Kwiec in their campaign for Borough Council.

         Defendants are five current and two former members of the Council who were politically against Georgia Adamitis and Paul Kwiec, instead supporting Defendants Michael Fedorka, John Horvath, Jeffrey Kovaleski, and Rose Louryk. Defendants were aware of Plaintiff's support for and association with Georgia Adamitis and Paul Kwiec in their campaign for Borough Council.

         On May 19, 2015, Georgia Adamitis and Paul Kwiec won the primary election. The following day, Defendants took away Plaintiff's access card to the Borough's administrative offices; Plaintiff, however, continues to have access to the building, where he retrieves his mail and faxes, if another employee is present in the administrative offices. Plaintiff was also told to move all tax records out of a storage area where they had been kept for more than twenty years.

         Sometime in May 2015, Defendants Fedorka, Horvath, Kovaleski, and Louryk publicly disparaged Plaintiff. They disclosed personal, private, and incorrect information about Plaintiff to the public.[1]

         Nearly five months later, on October 19, 2015, Defendant Fedorka, pursuant to Pennsylvania Right-to-Know disclosure laws, requested from Plaintiff “all receipts, cancelled checks or other forms of payment made to the Dickson City Tax Collector or his office for fees charged for duplicates or replacement bills from the year 2011 to October 17, 2015.” (Id. at ¶ 29). According to Plaintiff, this request was unfounded because Plaintiff, as an elected Tax Collector, is not subject to the Right-to-Know disclosure laws.

         A month later, in November 2015, both Georgia Adamitis and Paul Kwiec won the general election. In mid-December, Plaintiff's computer was allegedly “tampered with on at least two occasions and his paperwork was reviewed even though his office was locked.” (Id. at ¶ 31). That same month, Defendant Hall, pursuant to Right-to-Know laws, sought “a copy of any and all documents, correspondence sent or received concerning payment, fees or other instruction on requesting a tax duplicate for the year 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012.” (Id. at ¶ 32).

         Shortly thereafter, on or about December 28, 2015, the Council passed a motion to seek “submissions to the Pennsylvania Right To Know Office to AP 2015-2806 and to take appropriate action to secure the requested material.” (Id. at ¶ 33). Two days later, Defendant Hall, pursuant to Right-to-Know laws, again requested from Plaintiff a “copy of the Dickson City Tax Collector yearly report of total gross compensation for the years 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.” (Id. at ¶ 35).

         Three months later, on March 8, 2016, the Council passed an ordinance requiring the elected Tax Collector “to assess and collect $11 for each tax certificate/assessed property and forward the same to the Borough to be deposited in the general fund.” (Id. at ¶ 38). The Borough “will then issue a check to the Tax Collector subject to withholdings.” (Id.). According to Plaintiff, the ordinance requires him “to perform his elected position in a more expensive way to taxpayers and others seeking information on tax certification duplicates.” (Id. at ¶ 37).

         Finally, Plaintiff claims that the Borough ordinance passed on March 8, 2016 is invalid because, according to the Pennsylvania Tax Collector's Manual, any change in compensation of the Tax Collector must be adopted prior to the 15th day of February. (Id. at ¶ 40).

         In light of the above, Plaintiff instituted the instant lawsuit (Docs. 1, 10), asserting that Defendants' actions constituted a “campaign of harassment” in retaliation for Plaintiff's political support for Georgia Adamitis and Paul Kwiec. (Id. at ¶ 41).

         Defendants have moved to dismiss all claims. (Docs. 11, 13). The motion has been fully ...


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