Lawyers defending Pa. Convention Center in civil suit file motion to dismiss

Jon Campisi Nov. 18, 2011, 11:15am

Lawyers for the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority have filed a motion seeking to dismiss a lawsuit that was initiated last month by former Chief Financial Officer Madeline Apollo, who alleges she was wrongfully terminated from her position.

The motion was filed Nov. 16 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by attorneys Carolyn P. Short, Sara A. Begley and Brooke N. Wallace of the Philadelphia law firm of Reed Smith.

The three lawyers are representing the Convention Center Authority and its president, Ahmeenah Young.

Apollo’s lawsuit was filed with the federal court in Philadelphia  on Oct. 25. Her complaint alleges that the defendants wrongfully terminated her for retaliatory reasons, specifically for her attempting to “protect the integrity of the Convention Center’s operations and finances, including its operating budget and billion dollar expansion program, the largest publicly financed construction project in the history of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

The complaint alleges that Young, the authority’s president and CEO, used the Convention Center’s credit card and taxpayer funds “as her personal piggybank,” and violated state and federal law when she used the company credit card to pay for political fundraising events at the center.

“Defendants’ pattern of retaliatory misconduct against plaintiff Apollo was orchestrated to cover-up their continuing civil and criminal misconduct, and that of those acting in concert with them,” the complaint states.

In their motion to dismiss, the defendant’s attorneys refer to Apollo as a “disgruntled former employee” who brings a “morass of boilerplate allegations and claims” against the Convention Center Authority and Young.

“Plaintiff’s complaint generally appears to be a targeted smear campaign directed at PCCA, Young and numerous other non-parties associated with PCCA,” the motion states. “However, when one looks past plaintiff’s rhetorical diatribe, it is apparent that the complaint does not state even one plausible claim upon which relief may be granted.”

The motion goes on to claim that Apollo’s lawsuit is an attempt to turn an ordinary termination of employment case into a “hodgepodge of constitutional claims,” which fails as a matter of law.

The defendant’s motion claims that Apollo has no claim for violation of procedural due process because the facts alleged in her complaint “implicate neither a protected property interest nor liberty interest.”

The motion also claims that the plaintiff’s substantive due process and equal protection claims are “simply implausible in the context of a public employee who is essentially claiming wrongful termination,” and that Apollo’s First Amendment retaliation claim “likewise fails because plaintiff’s alleged speech and conduct, by her own admission, is job-related and therefore not constitutionally protected.”

The defendant’s attorneys are asking a federal judge to dismiss the plaintiff’s civil action in its entirety with prejudice.

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