Rosfeld wrongful termination lawsuit dismissed

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 against the University on Monday.

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.

U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan of the Western District of Pennsylvania dismissed the case, citing the fact that Rosfeld resigned willingly. While the University was prepared to terminate Rosfeld, Ranjan said, there is no evidence to suggest Rosfeld’s resignation was under coercion or duress.

Ranjan originally dismissed the case in May at the request of the University, citing Rosfeld’s “failure to state a claim,” but granted Rosfeld an opportunity to amend his complaint for later that month.

Rosfeld was acquitted in March 2019 in the June 2018 shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose Jr., which occurred after his departure from Pitt, while he was working for the East Pittsburgh Police Department.

According to Ranjan’s opinion that accompanied Monday’s dismissal order, the University would have been required to provide due process before terminating Rosfeld, but his premature resignation “relieved them of that obligation.”

In his amended complaint, Rosfeld pleaded that his resignation was coerced under duress, but Ranjan said there is no substantial evidence to support such a claim.

“The only action he attributes to Defendants is that of handing him a termination notice and failing to provide him with any alternative,” Ranjan said. “That is not enough to show that his resignation was involuntary.”

University spokesperson Kevin Zwick said Pitt is “pleased” with Ranjan’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit again.

“Pitt made it clear we had no intention of rehiring Rosfeld and vigorously opposed this lawsuit, which has been a source of concern for our community,” Zwick said.

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