City of Pittsburgh says it paid former firefighter
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The city of Pittsburgh in court documents filed today denied that it violated the free speech rights of former firefighter David Cerminara by withholding a severance check in retaliation for comments he made to the media. In fact, he has been given the check for $16,255.57, the city said in an answer filed in U.S. District Court.
Mr. Cerminara sued July 5, saying that two days before his June 1 retirement, he commented to a KDKA-TV reporter about a city public works blunder he witnessed. He claimed that Public Safety Director Michael Huss then withheld a check for unused sick time in retaliation.
The city in its answer admitted that it owed him the money, but said a check was available for him at Mr. Huss's office beginning on June 29.
It wrote that Mr. Cerminara, accompanied by an attorney, picked up the check on July 18.
"That doesn't end" the lawsuit, which seeks damages for distress and punitive damages, said Mr. Cerminara's attorney, Sam Cordes. "He had to sue them to get his check because they were holding it until this happened.
"He was penalized for exercising a First Amendment right."
The case is before U.S. District Judge Terrence F. McVerry.
First Published August 1, 2012 5:29 pm