Friday, July 11, 2014

W-B employee claims retaliation by city

September 07. 2013 10:45PM

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SCRANTON — A Wilkes-Barre paramedic said the city “fabricated” a disciplinary hearing against him in retaliation for his suing to expose what he considers insider trading in the sale of city properties and ethics violations.

Tyler Hammond filed a second lawsuit Friday in U.S. Middle District Court, saying the actions of the city and Mayor Tom Leighton are meant to deter him from exercising his constitutional right to access the courts and engage in free speech.

Hammond and his wife Antonia sued the city in 2009, alleging the mayor, who also is a real estate agent, had access to and free use of confidential city information about properties in Wilkes-Barre, including the former Old River Road Bakery. The city approved — and later terminated — a deal to sell the property to Leo A. Glodzik III, who had the exclusive towing contract with Wilkes-Barre until theft charges were filed against him in May. The property was sold and Harrold’s Pharmacy is in the process of relocating there.

According to the latest suit, the Hammonds have truthfully testified in depositions and refused to drop the first suit, leading to retaliation by the city. The couple’s minor children also have been deposed, the latest suit said.

Hammond got short notice of his disciplinary hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, a time when he would be sleeping because he worked the previous midnight shift, according to the suit.

The reason for the hearing, the suit alleges, was the mayor’s incorrect belief that Hammond created a satirical website of Leighton. Even if Hammond created the site, it was protected speech under the Constitution “since any member of the public can form opinions, create and post information on a public official and his governance, which is clearly covered by the public’s desire to self-govern and engage in democracy,” the lawsuit stated.

The hearing was scheduled to conflict with depositions Hammonds’ attorney, Cynthia Pollick, was to take of city personnel, the suit said.

Hammond is seeking an end to the retaliatory conduct, unspecified damages and a jury trial, according to the suit.

Attempts on Saturday to reach Pollick and Leighton were unsuccessful.

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