United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
WILLIAM H. YELLAND, Plaintiff
ABINGTON HEIGHTS SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., Defendants
MALACHY E. MANNION UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
October 27, 2017, plaintiff William H. Yelland filed a motion
for leave of court to amend his complaint, (Doc. 64), with
respect to his 14thAmendment post-termination due
process claim, under 42 U.S.C. §1983, which was
contained in Count II of his original complaint, (Doc. 1).
This claim was previously dismissed by the court in its
February 9, 2017 Memorandum and Order. (Doc. 18, Doc. 19).
Plaintiff submitted his proposed amended complaint as an
exhibit. (Doc. 63-56). Plaintiff simultaneously filed a
motion for partial summary judgment, (Doc. 65), pursuant to
Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56. Plaintiff seeks summary judgment on his
post-termination due process claim as contained in his
proposed amended complaint. (Doc. 65-1). Plaintiff also
contends that even if the court denies his motion to amend
his complaint to add his proposed 14th Amendment
post-deprivation due process claim, he should be found to be
excused from pursuing any further remedies provided by the
State, including the recently scheduled school board hearing.
Both of plaintiff's motions have been briefed by the
parties, a statement of material facts and response have been
filed, and exhibits have been submitted. On November 28,
2017, plaintiff's reply brief regarding both of his
pending motions was filed with an attached exhibit. (Doc.
on the foregoing, the court will DENY
plaintiff's motion for leave to amend his complaint
regarding his 14th Amendment post deprivation
procedural due process claim because he still has available
remedies through the State to challenge the recommendation
for his dismissal through the school board hearing and
appellate avenues, despite the delay.
court will also DENY IN ITS ENTIRETY
plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment since it
finds that plaintiff must proceed with the school board
hearing and then pursue his appellate remedies provided by
the State. Further, the court will not excuse plaintiff from
participating in the school board hearing and from pursuing
his State appellate remedies.
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
Motion to Amend Complaint
plaintiff's moves for leave to file an amended complaint
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2), since the time for
amending the complaint as of right has expired. See
Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(1). Rule 15(a)(2) states: “a
party may amend its pleading only with the opposing
party's written consent or the court's leave. The
court should freely give leave when justice so
requires.” The Third Circuit has adopted a liberal
approach to the amendment of pleadings in order to ensure
that “a particular claim will be decided on the merits
rather than on technicalities.” Dole v. Arco Chem.
Co., 921 F.2d 484, 486-87 (3d Cir. 1990). Amendment,
however, is not automatic. See Dover Steel Co., Inc. v.
Hartford Accident and Indent., 151 F.R.D. 570, 574 (E.D.
Pa.1993). Leave to amend should be granted absent a showing
of “undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the
part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by
amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the
opposing party by virtue of the allowance of the amendment,
futility of amendment, etc.” Foman v. Davis,
371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); see also Oran v. Stafford,
226 F.3d 275, 291 (3d Cir. 2000).
of amendment occurs when the complaint, as amended, does not
state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See In re
Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1434
(3d Cir.1997) (“In assessing ‘futility, ' the
district court applies the same standard of legal sufficiency
as applies under Rule 12(b)(6).”). If the proposed
amendment “is frivolous or advances a claim or defense
that is legally insufficient on its face, the court may deny
leave to amend.” Harrison Beverage Co. v. Dribeck
Importers, Inc., 133 F.R.D. 463, 468 (D.N.J.1990).
school district, the school board and the school officials
are state actors for purpose of §1983. See Kline ex
rel. Arndt v. Mansfield, 454 F.Supp.2d 258, 262 (E.D.Pa.
state a claim under section 1983, a plaintiff must meet two
threshold requirements. He must allege: 1) that the alleged
misconduct was committed by a person acting under color of
state law; and 2) that as a result, he was deprived of
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
or laws of the United States. West v. Atkins, 487
U.S. 42 (1988); Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535
(1981), overruled in part on other grounds,
Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 330-331 (1986).
defendant in a civil rights action must have personal
involvement in the alleged wrongs; liability cannot be
predicated solely on the operation of respondeat
superior.” Rode v. Dellarciprete, 845
F.2d 1195, 1207-08 (3d Cir. 1988). See also Sutton v.
Rasheed, 323 F.3d 236, 249 (3d Cir. 2003)(citing
Rode). “Personal involvement can be shown
through allegations of personal direction or of actual
knowledge and acquiescence.” Rode, 845 F.2d at
1207. Accord Robinson v. City of Pittsburgh, 120
F.3d 1286, 1293-96 (3d Cir. 1997); Baker v. Monroe
Twp., 50 F.3d 1186, 1190-91 (3d Cir. 1995).
proposed amended Count II, plaintiff alleges that all
defendants denied him post-termination process by refusing to
participate in arbitration after his April 23, 2015 and May
14, 2015 requests to refer the recommendation to dismiss him
from his teaching position to an arbitrator, which he made
pursuant to the Abington Heights Education Association's
Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”). He
alleges that AHSD “arbitrarily decided” that he
waived his right to arbitrate. He also alleges that AHSD then
refused to submit the issue of arbitrability to an
arbitrator. On December 20, 2016, the Pennsylvania Labor
Relation Board (“PLRB”) issued a Final Order
adopting the Hearing Examiner's (“HE”) August
25, 2016 Proposed Decision and Order recommending that AHSD
must arbitrate the question of arbitrability and dismissing
AHSD's exceptions to the HE's proposed decision.
then alleges that AHSD did not pursue a further appeal of the
PLRB decision. He avers that “[a]fter the School
District delayed for nearly two years [from his initial
request for arbitration], the parties finally submitted the
question of arbitrability to the appointed arbitrator.”
Plaintiff alleges that this delay is “incontrovertibly
attributable to the School District.” Further,
plaintiff alleges that the delay “was substantially in
excess of the time frame set forth in Pennsylvania's
School Code [24 P.S. §11-1127], which requires that a
hearing take place not ‘sooner than ten (10) days nor
later than fifteen (15) days after . . . [detailed] written
notice [of the charges is provided].'” Plaintiff
avers that “[t]he delay itself constitutes a
post-deprivation due process violation” and, that this
delay caused him to suffer harm entitling him to monetary
damages as well as injunctive relief. (Doc. 63-56 at 28-29).
backdrop, plaintiff explains, (Doc. 61 at 9), that he
requested, through the union lawyer, a grievance arbitration
to dispute his suspension and the recommendation that he be
dismissed. However, he states that after he was arrested on
the criminal charges, his defense counsel, on May 19, 2015,
waived the grievance arbitration the union lawyer requested
and instead requested a hearing before the school board. He
states that since his defense counsel was not authorized to
make the request, a legitimate dispute arose as to whether he
was entitled to arbitration or a school board hearing. He
states that even though there was a valid disagreement
between the parties as to the remedy, “there was no
reasonable dispute that an arbitrator, in the first instance,
was obliged to determine the question of
plaintiff states, (Doc. 61 at 9-10), that based on the
PLRB's final decision dated December 20, 2016, the
question of arbitrability was finally submitted to an
arbitrator. On August 4, 2017, the arbitrator determined that
the request by his criminal lawyer for a school board hearing
regarding his termination superseded the initial request by
the union lawyer for a grievance arbitration. Thus, AHSD
scheduled a school board hearing which was to begin on
October 30, 2017.
now contends that it is AHSD's refusal to submit the
initial question of arbitrability to arbitration, and the
ensuing 20-month delay until the refusal was found by the
PLRB to be an unfair labor practice, which gives rise to his
proposed amended post-deprivation due process claim. As such,
plaintiff asserts that the 20-month delay caused by AHSD
constitutes a denial of due process, and that he should be
excused from ...