Rosfeld wrongful termination lawsuit dismissed, but open to amendment

U.S.+District+Judge+J.+Nicholas+Ranjan+said+there+was+no+evidence+to+suggest+Rosfeld%27s+resignation+was+coerced+under+duress.

Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor

U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan said there was no evidence to suggest Rosfeld’s resignation was coerced under duress.

By Benjamin Nigrosh, News Editor

A federal judge dismissed former Pitt police officer Michael Rosfeld’s lawsuit in federal court against the University Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan of the Western District of Pennsylvania dismissed the case on the request of the University, citing Rosfeld’s “failure to state a claim.” But Ranjan granted Rosfeld an opportunity to amend his complaint by May 20 “in order to correct the deficiencies” that Ranjan noted in his opinion.

Rosfeld filed a civil complaint in January against the University, Pitt police Chief James Loftus and Kathy Humphrey, the senior vice chancellor for engagement, for allegedly violating his due process rights and the 14th Amendment in his Jan. 18, 2018, termination. The termination followed a December 2017 incident at the Garage Door Saloon on Atwood Street involving Humphrey’s son Daniel.

Rosfeld was acquitted in March 2019 in the June 2018 shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose Jr., which occurred during his tenure as a police officer for the East Pittsburgh Police Department.

According to Ranjan’s opinion that accompanied the dismissal order, Rosfeld worked as a public employee during his time as a Pitt police officer. But in Pennsylvania, Ranjan said, public employees are “‘at-will’ employees,” and thus do not have protected interest in continued employment.

“As currently pled, then, Mr. Rosfeld’s complaint identifies no basis for the Court to infer that his job was among those tenured and thus exempt from the ‘at-will’ default,” Ranjan said.

Ranjan added that Rosfeld must plead more evidence to prove his resignation from the University was coerced.

University spokesperson Kevin Zwick said the ruling confirms Pitt’s view that Rosfeld is making “baseless” claims.

“The University is pleased that the judge granted our motion to dismiss Rosfeld’s complaint,” Zwick said.

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