from the Order Entered October 20, 2015 In the Court of
Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Civil Division at No(s):
1515 November Term, 2014
BEFORE: BENDER, P.J.E., MOULTON, J., and FITZGERALD, J.
Rubin appeals the October 20, 2015 order entered in the
Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas granting the motion
of CBS Broadcasting Inc. d/b/a CBS 3 ("CBS") for
judgment on the pleadings. We reverse and remand for further
appeal arises from a news report related to Rubin's
September 2014 termination from his job as a school police
officer at Multi-Cultural Academy Charter School
("MACS") in Philadelphia. The central issue on
appeal is whether the substance of that report - that Rubin
was fired from his job "over allegations of child sexual
abuse" - was sufficiently close to the undisputed facts
to warrant judgment on the pleadings for CBS. We conclude
that it was not.
September 29, 2014, during the 6:00 p.m. airing of
Eyewitness News on a television station owned and
operated by CBS, anchor Chris Mayread the following report
regarding Rubin's termination: "A police supervisor
at a Philadelphia charter school is fired over allegations of
child sexual abuse. Howard Rubin is the suspect. He is
accused in the sexual abuse of an underage male student.
Rubin worked at the Multi-Cultural Charter School on North
Broad Street." Opinion Pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a),
1/20/16, at 2 ("1925(a) Op.").
September 30, 2014, Eyewitness News aired the
We would like to correct a story we reported yesterday. We
reported that a police supervisor at the Philadelphia
Multi-Cultural Academy Charter School was fired over
allegations that he sexually abused a male student at the
According to the school's principal, the supervisor's
contract was not renewed by the school. But the principal
says the supervisor was never accused of sexual abuse of any
student, and his separation from the school did not have
anything to do with any allegations of abuse.
Sources now tell us that Philadelphia Police Special Victims
Unit has no record of any investigation or charges involving
the police supervisor.
We apologize for the error.
Id. at 2.
8, 2015, Rubin filed an amended complaint alleging defamation
and false light invasion of privacy claims against both CBS
and May. On May 18, 2015, CBS and May filed an answer with
new matter. The new matter referenced, and attached, the
September 13, 2014, termination letter to Rubin from James
Higgins, MACS' principal. The letter provided as follows:
Dear Officer Rubin:
This letter is in reference to your employment at [MACS] as a
School Police Officer.
As we discussed this past Thursday, September 11, some
serious allegations have been made against you, which are now
being investigated by police. On Thursday, you were
immediately suspended indefinitely, without compensation, and
MACS has been conducting its own investigation of these
allegations, independent of the police probe.
While we have yet to complete our investigation, we have
determined that your behavior, at the very least, and even by
your own admission, was unbecoming of a school police officer
and a public employee.
You have been warned in writing about fraternizing with
minors, and you have acknowledged that you understood that
this type of behavior would not be tolerated again.
Because of your failure to honor this expectation, we have
decided that your employment with MACS will not be renewed
for the 2014-2015 school year, and as a result, is ...