Michael Schmidt v. James Creedon, et al, No. 09-2051 (3d Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Under Pennsylvania law, 53 Pa. Stat. 46190, police officers may not be suspended or terminated without just cause. An officer, who entered charges against other officers on the police network on behalf of another, but in violation of regulations governing use of the system, was suspended without a hearing. A union grievance resulted in an award of back-pay. A report by the Office of the Inspector General, issued months later, detailed the conduct at issue and gave notice of a hearing, after which the officer was terminated. The district court held that the post-deprivation union grievance proceeding cured the lack of pre-deprivation due process and that it was not necessary that the officer be notified of the exact rules he was charged with violating. The Third Circuit affirmed. The officer had a constitutionally protected interest, and, absent extraordinary circumstances, could not be suspended without a hearing. That right, however, was not clearly established at the time of the suspension, so the officers involved in the suspension were entitled to qualified immunity with respect to civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The notice of termination hearing gave the officer adequate information about the conduct that was the basis for action.