. .

Invest in your success.
JVRA helps lawyers win cases by providing critical information you can use to establish precedent, determine demand and win arguments.


$________ Municipal liability - Deprivation of procedural due process - Emergency suspension of assistant fire chief for ten days without a hearing - Newspaper publishes confidential information regarding suspension - Slightly elevated blood pressure - Emotional distress - Punitive damages.

U.S. District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania

The plaintiff was the Assistant Fire Chief for a Pennsylvania municipality. The city manager determined that the plaintiff was not trained as an emergency medical technician, and the city council suspended him with pay on an emergency basis without a hearing. The newspaper found about the plaintiff’s suspension and published a story. The plaintiff sued the borough for emotional distress damages, claiming that the borough had violated his right to procedural due process. The borough maintained that the suspension was necessary because of the emergency situation present, and, moreover, the plaintiff was not harmed.

The plaintiff was employed by the Borough of Dunmore, Pennsylvania, as its Assistant Fire Chief. In ________, the manager of the borough investigated the credentials and training of the borough’s employees to determine if the community could qualify for insurance discounts. During the course of his investigation, the manager discovered that the plaintiff did not have training as an EMT. The manager did not have the authority to fire or suspend the plaintiff, so he presented the matter to the borough 3 3 council, which voted to suspend the plaintiff with pay on emergency grounds without first holding a hearing. Information about the plaintiff’s suspension, which should have been a confidential personnel matter, was leaked to a local newspaper, which published a story about the situation. Ten days after the council suspended the plaintiff, a hearing was held at which it was determined that the plaintiff did not need EMT training because he was hired before ________.

The plaintiff sued the borough under 42 USC ________ for violation of his procedural due process rights. He claimed that he was distraught and humiliated, and that his blood pressure became slightly elevated by reason of the suspension. There was no evidence of permanent damage; the plaintiff continued his employment with the Fire Department, he did not report changes in his sleep habits or other emotional effects, and his blood pressure returned to a normal range within a few days after his reinstatement.

The city countered that the suspension did not violate the plaintiff’s due process rights because it was necessary in view of the emergency nature of the circumstances. It argued that a hearing was held promptly, and that the plaintiff did not suffer any permanent damage. The council members and manager denied leaking the story to the press.

The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff, awarding him $________ in compensatory damages against the borough for the violation of the plaintiff’s procedural due process rights. It awarded punitive damages in the amount of $________ against each of the individual defendant members of the borough council, as well as $________ in punitive damages against the borough manager. On post-trial motions, the court ordered the plaintiff to remit $________ of the compensatory damages awarded to him by the jury, and struck the punitive damage awards as a matter of law because there was no evidence of any intent by the council members to harm the plaintiff.

To read the full article, please login to your account or purchase

5 ways to win with JVRA

JVRA gives you jurisdiction-specific, year-round insight into the strategies, arguments and tactics that win. Successful attorneys come to the table prepared and use JVRA to:

  1. Determine if a case is winnable and recovery amounts.
  2. Determine reasonable demand for a case early on.
  3. Support a settlement demand by establishing precedent.
  4. Research trial strategies, tactics and arguments.
  5. Defeat or support post-trial motions through past case histories.

Try JVRA for a day or a month, or sign up for our deluxe Litigation Support Plan and put the intelligence of JVRA to work for all of your clients. See our subscription plans.