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Gabriel Busa v. Township of Gloucester

April 15, 2011

GABRIEL BUSA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TOWNSHIP OF GLOUCESTER, MAYOR AND COUNCIL OF THE TOWNSHIP OF
GLOUCESTER, AND DAVID MAYER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Joseph E. Irenas

OPINION

IRENAS, Senior District Judge:

Plaintiff Gabriel Busa initiated this action against the Township of Gloucester (the "Township"), its Mayor and Council and Mayor David Mayer personally (collectively "Defendants"), alleging that he was wrongfully terminated from his position as Director of Public Works for political reasons.*fn1 Pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.

I.

Plaintiff was appointed Director of Public Works for the Township in 1992.*fn2 (Defs' 56.1 Stat. ¶ 4.)*fn3 At this time, the Township was controlled by the Democratic party. (Pl's Stat. of Facts ¶ 5.) According to Plaintiff, prior to 2006 he was active in the Democratic party and participated in events and campaigns. (Id. ¶ 6.) In 2006, Cindy Rau-Hatton, a member of the Republican party, was elected mayor. (Defs' 56.1 Stat. ¶ 9; Pl's Stat. ¶ 7.) She asked Plaintiff to continue in his position as Director of Public Works.*fn4 (Defs' 56.1 Stat. ¶ 9.)

In 2009, Democrat David Mayer was elected mayor of the Township for a term commencing on January 1, 2010. (Id. ¶ 12.) In a December 21, 2009 letter, Plaintiff was informed that Mayer would not reappoint him as Director of Public Works and that his employment would conclude on December 31, 2009. (Id. ¶ 13.) Mayer instead appointed Len Moffa, an active participant in the Democratic party. (Pl's Stat. of Facts ¶¶ 21-22.) Plaintiff alleges that he was removed from his position because Defendants perceived him to be a member of either the Republican party or a different faction of the Democratic party. (Compl. Count One ¶¶ 12-13.)

Following the end of Plaintiff's employment, the Township paid Plaintiff $27,993.60 for 80 unused vacation days pursuant to Section 5 of Township Ordinance O-89-38. (Id. ¶¶ 15, 18.) However, Plaintiff claims that he was not compensated for 80 unused sick days. (Pl's Stat. of Facts ¶ 23.)

On February 17, 2010, Plaintiff filed a six count Complaint in this Court alleging constitutional violations stemming from Defendants' allegedly improper termination of his employment for political reasons and their failure to compensate him for unused sick time. Defendants moved for summary judgment on February 17, 2011.

II.

"[S]ummary judgment is proper 'if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.'" Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court must construe the facts and inferences in a light most favorable to the non-moving party. Pollock v. Am. Tel. & Tel. Long Lines, 794 F.2d 860, 864 (3d Cir. 1986). "'With respect to an issue on which the non-moving party bears the burden of proof, the burden on the moving party may be discharged by 'showing'-- that is, pointing out to the district court -- that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.'" Conoshenti v. Public Serv. Elec. & Gas, 364 F.3d 135, 145-46 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323). The role of the Court is not "to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986).

III.

In addition to a claim for political discrimination, Plaintiff asserts due process violations under the federal and state constitutions for improper termination and failure to pay compensation due to him.*fn5

Defendants move for summary judgment on all counts. The Court will first consider Plaintiff's due process claims for improper termination before turning to his claim that he was denied compensation for ...


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