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Pisano v. Ambrosino

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

June 1, 2016

CLIFFORD PISANO, Plaintiff,
v.
TOM AMBROSINO, MICHAEL MURPHY, PAUL CAPIZZI and CITY OF REVERE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          Nathaniel M. Gorton Judge

         This case involves allegations of retaliation against city officials who purportedly decided against reappointing plaintiff to another annual term as a school crossing guard due to his efforts to unionize the crossing guards.

         Pending before the Court is defendants’ motion for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be allowed, in part, and denied, in part.

         I. Background and procedural history

         A. Parties

         Plaintiff Clifford Pisano (“Pisano” or “plaintiff”) is a resident of Revere, Massachusetts who worked as a crossing guard for the Revere public schools from 1994 to 2010.

         Defendant Thomas Ambrosino (“Ambrosino”) was the mayor of the City of Revere during the period of the alleged events. As mayor, Ambrosino was authorized to appoint and to reappoint individuals to work as school crossing guards every school year.

         Defendant Michael Murphy (“Murphy”) was the Captain of the Revere Police Department during the period of the alleged events.

         Defendant Paul Capizzi (“Capizzi”) is the city solicitor for the City of Revere.

         Defendant City of Revere employed the individual defendants Ambrosino, Murphy and Capizzi during the period of the alleged events.

         B. The decision not to reappoint plaintiff to a new term

         In June, 2010, Ambrosino decided not to reappoint plaintiff to a new term as a crossing guard for the 2010-2011 academic year. Plaintiff asserts that Ambrosino made that decision solely on the basis of plaintiff’s union-related activities.

         Defendants deny that assertion and insist that Ambrosino decided against reappointment based upon plaintiff’s disciplinary record which included rules violations, suspensions and a “pattern of poor behavior”. Defendants claim that Ambrosino found plaintiff unsuited to a position that would require him to direct traffic, guide children, interact with the public and follow the directives of the police department. They deny that his union-related activities had anything to do with their failure to reappoint.

         According to defendants, plaintiff’s disciplinary record lists incidents in which Pisano:

1) received a one-day suspension in December, 2008 for insubordination and disrespectful behavior towards his supervisor,
2) was the subject of a formal complaint by a “senior citizen volunteer” in August, 2009 who claimed that plaintiff chastised and assaulted her for wearing a florescent vest while she helped pedestrians cross the street near a farmer’s market,
3) failed to report to Captain Murphy’s office at the Revere police station in September, 2009 to discuss the formal complaint against him,
4) refused to accept notice from “Sergeant Graf” of a scheduled disciplinary hearing while plaintiff was on duty and “became disrespectful to the sergeant in public”,
5) agreed to two 10-day suspensions during a subsequent meeting with Captain Murphy and a union representative from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (“AFSCME”), as a result of disciplinary charges of a) assaulting a senior citizen, b) failing to report to the police station as ordered and c) refusing to accept service and behaving disrespectfully toward a sergeant,
6) directed vehicle traffic through red lights and confronted drivers, without authority, several times during the 2009-2010 academic year, and
7) unlawfully audio-taped a union membership meeting at the Revere police station despite demands that he not do so.

         Plaintiff does not dispute defendants’ summary of his disciplinary record other than by general assertions in his affidavit that 1) defendants charged him with assault without sufficient cause and for the sole purpose of interfering with his employment and unionizing efforts and 2) ...


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