Federal judge dismisses lawsuit by fired Wilkes-Barre police officer

By Jerry Lynott - [email protected]
Rogers -

WILKES-BARRE — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit former Wilkes-Barre Ptlm. Kyle Rogers filed against the city after he was fired for allegedly pointing a loaded gun at officers inside police headquarters.

In his order Monday, U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo said Rogers failed to state a claim against the city, Mayor Tony George, former police chief Marcella Lendacky and Officer Ralph Elick in the suit filed in January.

Caputo granted the defendants’ request for dismissal with prejudice, meaning Rogers cannot refile it. The judge left it up to Rogers on whether to refile his claims in state court.

Attorney Kurt Kwak of Wilkes-Barre, who represented Rogers, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The defendants’ attorney, Erik Roberts Anderson, of Myers Brier & Kelly in Harrisburg, said: “The city appreciates the court’s swift and decisive disposal of this matter.”

The gun incident on Dec. 15, 2015, was the last in a series of departmental violations by Rogers who had been on the force for less than two years. The mayor fired him on Jan. 4, 2016.

In court documents, Rogers acknowledged the gun incident could have seriously injured or killed someone. But he said he had been having difficulties with Lendacky who was his platoon supervisor at the time and that she was looking to have him fired.

In his suit, Rogers sought unspecified damages and, among other things, that his discipline be rescinded. He raised a total of 12 claims, retaliation for criticizing Lendacky, deprivation of due process and violations of the Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Caputo noted the range of claims, stating, “Simply put, plaintiff’s nearly 600 paragraph, 141 page complaint (without exhibits) is the quintessential shotgun pleading which has been criticized by the Third Circuit.” Such a filing fails “to … give the defendants adequate notice of the claims against them and the grounds upon which each claim rests,” the judge said.

Nevertheless, Caputo addressed the individual claims and concluded that Rogers could not back up any of them with sufficient factual matter to continue the litigation.

After he was terminated, Rogers applied for unemployment compensation. The city denied it. The denial was reversed by a referee and the city challenged and won. Rogers then turned to a state court that denied his appeal last September. He also failed in his attempt to have the state Supreme Court consider the denial.

Rogers worked with Harveys Lake police and was hired by Luzerne County in February 2017 as a corrections officer.


By Jerry Lynott

[email protected]

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.