Last updated: June 11. 2014 11:40PM - 568 Views
By - jlynott@civitasmedia.com

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WILKES-BARRE — A federal judge dismissed a suit by a city employee who claimed the mayor retaliated against him with a disciplinary hearing and police investigation for filing a lawsuit over the sale of the former Old River Road Bakery site.

But city paramedic Tyler Hammond has “one last opportunity” to amend his complaint and proceed with the claim that his constitutional right to the protected activity of filing a lawsuit was violated, according to the order issued Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Malachy Mannion.

Mannion last week dismissed the property-related lawsuit and determined there was insufficient evidence to support the claims of Hammond and his wife, Antonia, that the city, Mayor Tom Leighton and others were responsible for destroying the couple’s personal belongings while the former bakery site was being cleaned up in 2009.

Hammond’s attorney, Cynthia Pollick, of Pittston said she would file the amended complaint by the June 20 deadline set by the judge. She also said she would appeal the dismissal of the first lawsuit.

In the retaliation suit, Hammond said he was subjected to a disciplinary hearing on the mayor’s belief that Hammond “created a satirical website lampooning” Leighton. Hammond also said he is the focus of a “retaliatory criminal investigation” even though he has not committed a crime.

Mannion, as he did in the property-related lawsuit, said he dismissed the second suit because it “does not contain sufficient allegations to sustain his claims.”

However, the judge found “significant shortcomings” in the second suit, saying Hammond failed to show that Leighton was personally involved in the retaliation and that the city failed to train its employees “not to retaliate against a citizen who engages in free speech.”

The judge allowed allowed Hammond to address the shortcomings by amending the civil complaint.

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