Federal judge denies Slatington police officer's third try at lawsuit

By Karen Kidd | Dec 18, 2018

PHILADELPHIA — Salvatore Taibi, a Slatington police sergeant on total disability leave, will not get a third opportunity to sue the borough following a federal judge's decision issued last month.

"Taibi amended once as of right," U.S. District Court Judge Gerald J. Pappert, on the bench in the Pennsylvania Eastern District, said in his 13-page decision issued Nov. 26. "He has not requested leave to amend his complaint a second time, and in any event, further amendment would be futile, not to mention very likely in bad faith given the Amended Complaint's frivolity."

Taibi, a Slatington police officer since 1991, was promoted to sergeant in January 2014.

Two years prior to his promotion, Taibi fell off a porch while on duty, tore his meniscus, bruised his ribs and injured his lower back, according to the background portion of Pappert's decision. Taibi has since been on disability as allowed under the Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act.

U.S. District Court Judge Gerald J. Pappert  

In August 2017, Taibi and his lawyer met with Slatington's township manager and the borough solicitor. During the meeting, Taibi alleged "it was strongly implied" that the borough was considering termination of his employment.

Taibi claims that the following month he was required to be medically examined as  justification for him being declared unfit for any duties. Taibi also claimed the borough used his health issues to avoid assigning him to light duty.

Taibi sued Slatington in Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas, alleging the borough violated the Rehabilitation Act and asking the borough be enjoined from its alleged discriminatory behavior and to compensate him for benefits he would have received had he been placed on light duty.

The case was removed to federal court and Taibi amended his complaint after the borough moved for his lawsuit's dismissal for failure to state a claim.

"Like its predecessor, Taibi's amended complaint is, to be charitable, a mishmosh of repetitive, inherently contradictory and generally nonsensical allegations," Pappert said in his decision. "It is difficult to discern exactly what Taibi is alleging or what laws the borough has transgressed, particularly since Taibi states that the Borough has yet to even do anything to Taibi."

Taibi's amended complaint fails to allege the Slatington Police Department had received federal financial assistance, a requirement under the Rehabilitation Act, which applies only to federal employers and employers who receive federal funding, according to the decision.

"Even if he had, Taibi fails to state a claim for any form of discrimination or failure to accommodate," the decision said.

Taibi acknowledges that Slatington hasn't fired him "or in any way" kept him from doing his job, Pappert said in his decision.

"Indeed, he remains on total disability leave, collecting his pay and benefits under Pennsylvania’s Heart and Lung Act," the decision said. "He also fails to state any claim for failure to accommodate, largely because he does not identify the position he is qualified to perform with an accommodation. He merely seeks to be placed on 'light duty,' which would appear to mean a 'desk job,' but he does not state that such an opportunity exists with the police department."

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