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Whaley v. Schiliro

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 31, 2015

MICHAEL A. WHALEY, and VALERIE M. ROBINSON, Plaintiffs,
v.
LEWIS D. SCHILIRO, Secretary, Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Division of State Police, Defendant.

Gary Aber, Aber, Baker & Over, Wilmington, DE. Robert T. Vance, Jr., The Law Offices of Robert T. Vance, Jr., Philadelphia, PA Attorneys for Plaintiffs.

Barry W. Willoughby, William W. Bowser, Lauren E.M. Russell, Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP, Wilmington, DE, Attorneys for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

LEONARD P. STARK, District Judge.

Plaintiffs Michael A. Whaley ("Whaley") and Valerie M. Robinson ("Robinson" and, with Whaley, "Plaintiffs") filed this lawsuit on May 22, 2012, alleging discrimination. (D.I. 1 at 1) Pending before the Court is the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant Lewis D. Schiliro, Secretary, Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Division of Police's ("Defendant"). (D.I. 44) For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant the motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Taking the record evidence in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs, as the Court is obligated to do at this stage of the proceedings, the record shows the following. Plaintiffs, who are African-American, were employed by the Delaware State Police ("DSP") for 23 years, from approximately 1988 to June 2011. (D.I. 1 at 2) On June 24, 2011, both Plaintiffs entered guilty pleas to criminal misdemeanor charges of theft by false pretense and official misconduct. (D.I. 46-5 at A106) A third DSP officer, Sergeant Lance Willey ("Willey"), a white male (D.I. 1 at 5), entered identical guilty pleas to the same criminal misdemeanor charges (D.I. 45 at 8).

Among other things, the DSP "is responsible for transporting mentally disabled, disturbed or abnormal individuals to medical and/or mental health facilities." (D.I. 1 at 2) Both Plaintiffs participated in transporting individuals to facilities. The criminal charges against them stemmed from an administrative investigation into allegations that Plaintiffs falsely reported overtime payments in conjunction with off-duty DSP assignments. (D.I. 45 at 3)

In particular, Whaley's superiors learned that he may have been claiming that he was entitled to overtime payments, which reflected twice the number of hours he actually worked. ( Id. ) Investigators learned that other individuals, including Robinson, may also have been falsely reporting overtime to the DSP. ( Id. at 4) For instance, Plaintiffs were claiming that "Two-Person-Transports" were necessary for certain individuals, when, in reality, only one officer conducted the transport. ( Id. )

Plaintiffs contend that the practices in which they were engaged were "never objected to" and had been going on for well over 20 years. (D.I. 1 at 6) Eventually, however, an investigation by the Delaware Department of Justice concluded that Plaintiffs had engaged in criminal conduct, specifically "overtime fraud and illegal compensation for hours not worked." (D.I. 45 at 7) After criminal charges were filed,

Plaintiffs and Sgt. Willey plead guilty to identical charges, and agreed to (1) pay restitution; (2) forfeit their Council on Police Training ("COPT") Certification; and (3) not be employed in any law enforcement capacity in the State of Delaware going forward. Transcripts of the plea hearings make clear that Plaintiffs entered into their plea agreements knowingly, and with advice of counsel.

(D.I. 45 at 8); ( see also D.I. 46-5 at A106, A107)

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

"The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 n.10 (1986). An assertion that a fact cannot be - or, alternatively, is - genuinely disputed must be supported either by citing to "particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for the purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials, " or by "showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A) & (B). If the moving party has carried its burden, the nonmovant must then "come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for ...


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