Pittsburgh Partners Thomas Gebler and Emily Mahler successfully obtained dismissal of all claims in a Civil Rights lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against a local municipality and its mayor and officer. Plaintiff, a borough police officer, brought a lawsuit pursuant to the Rehabilitation Act and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that he was “regarded as” disabled as defined by the Act, resulting in his unlawful suspension and required submission to a psychological fitness for duty examination. Attorneys Gebler and Mahler filed a motion for summary judgment contending Plaintiff did not suffer an adverse employment action and that the borough reasonably required the fitness for duty examination for the officer in light of reports of abusive and erratic behavior by his peers in the department. The Court agreed that such requirement was a legitimate, job-related inquiry consistent with business necessity, citing case law holding that a police department’s requiring an officer to undergo such an evaluation was “entirely reasonable and even responsible” upon learning that an officer was experiencing difficulties with his mental health. The Court further dismissed Plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim on the basis of his admission that no one sincerely believed that he was actually suffering a disability, and that the alleged conduct of the borough and its officers was neither sufficiently severe or pervasive, nor related to a perceived disability.

Pittsburgh Partner Thomas Gebler and Associate Emily Mahler successfully obtained dismissal of all claims in a Civil Rights lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against a local municipality and its pension plan. Plaintiff, a retired employee of the municipality, brought a lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that she was denied equal protection of the laws when she was improperly classified as a part-time employee for a period of her employment on the basis of her gender, which resulted in her not receiving credit for several years of employment for the purposes of the calculation of her pension benefit upon retirement. Attorneys Gebler and Mahler filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that the applicable two-year statute of limitations barred Plaintiff’s claims where her part-time employment with the municipality ended nearly two decades prior to her bringing the lawsuit. Following a period of limited discovery on the statute of limitations issue, the Court granted the motion and dismissed the case against the municipality with prejudice. The Court concluded that the evidence demonstrated that Plaintiff knew, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have known, of the harm resulting from the allegedly improper classification more than two years prior to her commencement of the lawsuit.

One of our Pittsburgh based partners, Thomas Gebler, Esq., successfully extracted his two Police Officer clients, as well as the Township which employed them, from a civil action filed in the U.S. District Court, Western District.  The Plaintiffs alleged the Police Officers, responding to multiple calls involving a series of disputes between adjacent property owners, had violated their civil rights.  The Court granted Mr. Gebler’s Motion to Dismiss agreeing with the position that the claimed civil rights violations could not be supported by the Police Officers issuance of various citations associated with the dispute.

Pittsburgh partner Thomas Gebler speaks at the American Conference Institute’s National Advanced Forum on Litigating Contract Surety Bond & Fidelity Insurance Claims at the Union League in Philadelphia.  Tom focused upon two critical areas: Bad Faith Claims in Fidelity Insurance Context: The Scope, the Merits, and Creating the Best Strategy for Motion Practice and Discovery and E-Discovery: Recovering Volumes of Records, documents, and Data in the Surety and Fidelity Context.

Thomas Gebler in our Pittsburgh office recently obtained dismissal of a complaint against a Pennsylvania surety company based on improper venue.  The Plaintiff, a subcontractor on a construction project in Massachusetts, filed suit in Pittsburgh seeking payment from a payment bond.  Although the bond did not contain venue provisions, it incorporated the terms of the underlying construction contract which provided:  “The parties mutually consent to submit to the jurisdiction of the federal and/or state courts of the State in which the Project is located. The parties shall bring any action or suit concerning the Contract Documents or related matters only in such federal or state courts.”  In dismissing the Complaint, the trial court rejected Plaintiff’s argument that the incorporated language of the construction contract only bound the parties to that contract and not the surety and the Plaintiff.