By Gina Passarella
Of the Legal Staff
Former Philadelphia Housing Authority Executive Director Carl Greene had one of his remaining two claims against former Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street and the rest of the former PHA board tossed Thursday.
Greene asserted a number of claims against the board members for comments made about him, including comments regarding his settlements of sexual harassment lawsuits against him. He also sued for breach of contract for his September 23, 2010, termination by the board, according to the opinion in Greene v. Street.
While a number of claims were thrown out over the course of 2011, two had remained: a claim for deprivation of liberty interest in reputation without due process of law and a claim for breach of contract. The first claim was against board members Street, Debra Brady, Patrick Eiding and Nellie Reynolds in their individual capacities. The breach of contract claim was against the PHA.
In ruling on the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter threw out the deprivation of liberty interest in reputation claim. He said the claim requires not only proof that false statements were made about Greene, but that he requested an opportunity for a “name-clearing hearing” and was denied.
In reviewing several interactions between the board and Greene’s lawyer, Clifford Haines of Haines & Associates, Buckwalter found Haines never expressly asked for an opportunity to clear Greene’s name, but rather took issue with what was being said about his client or how the board was handling an investigation into his client.
“Even if the court assumes that counsel for [Greene] was accusing defendant Street of making false statements about his client, defamatory conduct alone does not give rise to a claim for deprivation of liberty interest in reputation,” Buckwalter said. “Rather, [Greene] must have requested and been denied a hearing.”
As to Greene’s breach of contract claim, the defendants argued he didn’t include the necessary element of what his damages were. But Buckwalter found Greene was clear that he was seeking $618,750 in damages, which equaled 24 months of his salary, a cost of living adjustment and other benefits. Buckwalter denied the defendants’ summary judgment motion on that claim. He left it for a fact-finder to conclude whether Greene was terminated for cause or whether the PHA breached its contract with Greene.