APPEAL FROM UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO. Hon. José A. Fusté, U.S. District Judge.
Celina Romany for appellant.
Damaris Ortiz González, with whom Ángel Muñoz-Noya and Sifre & Muñoz-Noya PSC were on brief, for appellee State Insurance Fund Corporation.
Susana I. Peñagarícano Brown, with whom Michelle Camacho-Nieves, Assistance Solicitor General, and Margarita Mercado-Echegaray, Solicitor General, Department of Justice, were on brief, for individual capacity appellees.
Before Lynch, Chief Judge, Thompson and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.
LYNCH, Chief Judge.
Plaintiff, attorney Roberto Reyes-Pérez, who had been favored in his public employment with a trust position at Puerto Rico's State Insurance Fund Corporation (SIFC) during the period his political party, the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), was in power, was moved into a career position at the SIFC as it became clear the opposing party might win an upcoming election. Had he remained in a trust position, the new administration could have removed him without violating the First Amendment.
He worked in his new, career position as Contracting Director for about two years. During this time, audits were performed by the new administration of a number of categories of employees to see if their employment in fact conformed with Puerto Rican law. Reyes-Pérez was among those employees whose appointment did not meet the job requirements. His reclassification to a career position was annulled, and because he had no right to reinstatement, he was dismissed.
The district court found that the Mt. Healthy defense required entry of summary judgment for defendants. We agree and so affirm.
On de novo review of the grant of a motion for summary judgment, we recite the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, drawing all reasonable inferences in his favor.
Jones v. Nationwide Life Ins. Co., 696 F.3d 78, 81-82 (1st Cir. 2012). However, we disregard " allegations of a merely speculative or conclusory nature."
Serra v. Quantum Servicing Corp., 747 F.3d 37, 39-40 (1st Cir. 2014). We also note that both we and the district court have done our best to pull facts from the record despite frequent violations of the rules and inadequate briefing by Reyes-Pérez.
There are two major political parties in Puerto Rico: the PDP and the New Progressive Party (NPP). When control of the government changes parties, " [e]ntirely too often, the political party assuming office terminates the employment of public employees who are affiliated with the party going out of power and then fills those vacancies with its own ...