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Caplin v. Lackawanna County

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

October 20, 2017

CASEY CALPIN, Plaintiff,
v.
LACKAWANNA COUNTY, BRIAN LOUGHNEY, in his individual capacity, Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          MALACHY E. MANNION UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the court is plaintiff Casey Calpin's motion, (Doc. 28), for the court's permission to use the sealed deposition transcript from another federal civil case in the instant case for purposes of opposing defendants Lackawanna County and Brian Loughney's motion for summary judgment, (Doc. 34). Based upon the following analysis, the court will DENY the plaintiff's motion.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         By way of relevant background, on October 3, 2016, the plaintiff commenced the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983, claiming that the defendants engaged in retaliation due to her participation in First Amendment protected activities. (Doc. 1). On October 4, 2016, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint. (Doc. 3). The plaintiff, a former correctional officer for Lackawanna County Prison (“LCP”) for over 15 years, testified at a deposition in a federal civil rights case, namely, Pleasants v. Lackawanna County, Civil No. 13-1611, M.D.Pa., on March 1, 2016. On June 20, 2016, the plaintiff was interviewed by defendant Loughney, Deputy Director for Human Resources for defendant Lackawanna County, and he possessed the deposition transcript from the plaintiff's deposition in the Pleasants' case. Loughney asked plaintiff if she testified truthfully in her deposition and she responded that she did. Subsequently, on July 14, 2016, the plaintiff was terminated by the defendants allegedly “because she provided truthful testimony under oath.” The plaintiff also alleges that after she was terminated the defendants appealed her unemployment compensation award “based solely on the testimony she provided under oath at a deposition [in the Pleasants' case].” In her amended complaint, the plaintiff asserts two claims relating to her termination. In Count I, the plaintiff claims that defendants, Loughney and Lackawanna County, terminated her in direct retaliation for engaging in a First Amendment protected activity, i.e., giving sworn deposition testimony in a federal court case. The plaintiff also alleges that the defendants retaliated against her due to her testimony by appealing her award of unemployment compensation and by using her testimony as evidence at the appeal hearing. The plaintiff states that despite this evidence the unemployment compensation referee upheld her award and found that the defendants did not have just cause to terminate her and failed to prove willful misconduct.

         In Count II, the plaintiff asserts a municipal liability claim against Lackawanna County under §1983 because it failed to train and supervise its employees in a way that would ensure they did not harm employees engaging in truthful testimony related to court proceedings.

         As relief, the plaintiff requests reinstatement, back pay and front pay as well as compensatory damages against both defendants as well as punitive damages as against Loughney.

         On November 9, 2016, the defendants filed an answer to the amended complaint, which both denies any liability and raises numerous affirmative defenses, including failure to state a claim and qualified immunity. (Doc. 12). With their answer, the defendants attached eight exhibits to support and supplement their responses and statements made in the answer. The plaintiff then filed a motion to strike the exhibits attached to the defendants' answer, (Doc. 13). The plaintiff's motion was briefed.

         On November 18, 2016, the defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Doc. 17). The defendants' motion was then briefed.

         On February 14, 2017, the court issued a memorandum, (Doc. 24), and order, (Doc. 25), denying plaintiff's motion to strike the exhibits attached to defendants' answer to her amended complaint, (Doc. 13), except with respect to Exhibit C, her deposition transcript. The court also denied the defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings, (Doc. 17), since it found the plaintiff plausibly stated a First Amendment retaliation claim against them.

         Discovery was then conducted and the court extended the deadline to August 30, 2017. (Doc. 27).

         On August 29, 2017, the plaintiff filed her motion for the court's permission to use the sealed deposition transcript of LCP Captain Robert Mcguire from the case of Sopinski v. Lackawanna County, Civil No. 16-466, M.D.Pa., (Doc. 27), in her present case to oppose defendants' motion for summary judgment, (Doc. 34), filed on September 20, 2017. On August 30, 2017, the plaintiff filed her brief in support of her motion. (Doc. 29). Defendants filed their brief in opposition on September 13, 2017. (Doc. 31). Plaintiff filed her reply brief on September 22, 2017. (Doc. 37).

         This court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§1331 and 1343. Venue is proper in this district.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff simply states that she the has right “to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial records and documents” and, that she should be allowed to use the sealed deposition of Mcguire that her counsel took in the Sopinski case since there is no harm or prejudice to defendants.[1] (Doc. 29). Plaintiff cites to Leucadia v. Applied Extrusion Technologies, Inc.,998 ...


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