December 18, 2012
SCRANTON ‚?? Former Ashley police chief David Cerski has filed a federal lawsuit against the borough and council, alleging his firing two days after he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend was politically motivated.
Cerski, of Mill Street, Wilkes-Barre, claims council fired him because he was perceived to be a supporter of Mayor Richard Oravic, whom the council members deemed to be a political adversary.
Cerski had worked for the borough since Jan. 1, 2005. He was fired on March 24, 2011, two days after his girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time, obtained a protection-from-abuse order against him.
The girlfriend, Heather Doty, alleged Cerski had assaulted and threatened her. A judge issued a one-year order on March 22 directing Cerski to have no contact with her.
The lawsuit, filed Friday by attorney Donald Brobst, does not mention the alleged assault or protection order. It alleges Cerski‚??s constitutional rights to due process were violated because council dismissed him without providing him a pre-termination hearing.
Council never publicly stated the reasons for Cerski‚??s termination.
William Vinsko, solicitor for Ashley, said he was not the solicitor for Ashley at the time Cerski was terminated and does not know the circumstances surrounding council‚??s decision.
Speaking generally, Vinsko said a municipality is usually required to hold a pre-termination hearing before firing an employee, but there are exceptions to that rule, such as an emergency that threatens the public‚??s well-being.
‚??They have to make sure they provide for public safety. There are situations that require action to be taken,‚?Ě Vinsko said. ‚??We are going to look into this matter, gather all the facts and proceed accordingly.‚?Ě
The lawsuit names as defendants the borough and council members James Mullin, Martin McDonald, John Gibbons, Joseph Gorham, Sharon Lynne Keefe and Stacy McGovern.
The suit seeks to have Cerski reinstated or, in the alternative, to be awarded damages to compensate him for his past and future loss of income.