On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; D.C. Civil Action No. 87-05117.
Higginbotham, Jr., Chief Judge, Scirica and Aldisert, Circuit Judges.
Opinion OF THE COURT HIGGINBOTHAM, JR., Chief Judge
This case presents the appeal of the district court's Order dated March 9, 1990 granting plaintiff's motion for award of attorney's fees and costs, but reducing it by two-thirds because of the plaintiff's "limited success." 735 F. Supp. 158. Because we believe that the district court reached the correct result, we will affirm the lower court's order.
Plaintiff-appellant, Nancy Davis ("plaintiff"), was employed as a Transit Officer by Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority ("SEPTA") until August 27, 1985. Plaintiff brought this action in August of 1987 against SEPTA, the City of Philadelphia and several John Doe police officers*fn1, Thomas P. Smith, Chief of SEPTA's Transit Police, and Robert C. Robinson, Deputy Chief of SEPTA's Transit Police.
Plaintiff, a white woman, and her husband, a black man, initially filed complaints with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (E.E.O.C.) alleging that defendants had wrongfully discriminated against her at her place of employment in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 1985 (3). Following the filing of her administrative complaints, plaintiff commenced this civil action in the court.*fn2 Although the plaintiff alleged in a second amended complaint that a conspiracy, formed by all named defendants, was designed to interfere with her federal constitutional right to a workplace free from discrimination, by Order entered on July 25, 1988, the district court dismissed plaintiff's second amended complaint with prejudice. The court proceeded on the original complaint and issued the following findings of fact in its memorandum of May 5, 1989:
In March of 1985, the plaintiff made an arrest and escorted the prisoner to the Philadelphia Police Department Central Detective Division to be charged. While at the Police Department, plaintiff alleged that Detective Falcone of the Philadelphia Police Department made offensive racial remarks regarding her marriage to a black man. Plaintiff complained to her supervisor, Chief Robert C. Robinson, about Detective Falcone's behavior, and she was directed to file a written complaint with SEPTA and the Internal Affairs Division of the Philadelphia Police Department, which she did. Subsequently, plaintiff was asked by her supervisors to submit to a polygraph test to determine the truth of her allegations against Detective Falcone. Plaintiff refused to submit to such a test, noting that Detective Falcone had not been required to submit to such a test. On May 31, 1985, plaintiff received a written reprimand from defendant Smith (Chief of SEPTA's Transit Police) for her refusal to take the polygraph, and to cooperate in the investigation.
In June of the same year, plaintiff was temporarily suspended on the basis of allegations that she had abused her sick leave privileges. The district court found that the plaintiff had been subject to disciplinary action on a number of occasions, dating back to 1982, because she had allegedly abused her sick leave privileges.
In July of 1985, plaintiff arrested three trolley passengers for disorderly conduct*fn3, and the passengers were subsequently convicted and fined. In the course of making the arrest, plaintiff displayed her weapon in view of other passengers on the trolley. Subsequently, the convicted passengers filed complaints regarding plaintiff's conduct during the arrest. The district court found that plaintiff's behavior constituted "an egregiously improper use of a firearm by a police officer, and [was] totally out of proportion to the problem that the plaintiff faced." (App. at 131).
After conferring with Chief of Police Thomas P. Smith, and Deputy Chief Howard Patton, Chief Robinson discharged plaintiff from the SEPTA Police Department on August 27, 1985 on the grounds that "a police officer who behaved in this way was a serious danger to innocent persons and could not be permitted to remain with the department." (App. at 132).
Plaintiff alleged that the reasons for the firing offered by Defendant Robinson were a pretext for discrimination, citing the Department's failure to discipline other officers who she alleged used excessive force in the course of making arrests. Plaintiff cited several acts in support of her allegations, but this evidence was excluded at trial. (App. at 14-15).
In March 1989, the plaintiff's claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 1985 went to trial before a jury, and on March 21, 1989 the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and against defendants SEPTA, Thomas P. Smith, and Robert C. Robinson in the amount of $10,000.
On March 22, 1989, the SEPTA defendants filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict ("JNOV"). The district court issued a memorandum and order on May 15, 1989, finding for the SEPTA defendants and against the plaintiff on the plaintiff's claim for relief under Title VII. Subsequently, the court granted plaintiff's motion to conform its judgment noting that under Roebuck v. Drexel University, 852 F.2d 715, 737-39 (3d Cir. 1988), a district court is required to follow the jury verdict when a Title VII case is tried by a court concurrently with a civil rights action that is tried before a jury. By Order entered November ...