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Council will appeal judge's Andrekovich job decision

March 14, 2011

Brian Andrekovich

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Punxsutaney Borough Council opted to continue its appeal of the Punxsutawney Civil Service Commission's ruling that ordered council to give terminated Punxsutawney Borough Police officer Brian Andrekovich his job back.

During council's meeting Monday, Solicitor Timothy Morris read a statement regarding the decision handed down by Judge John H. Foradora on the borough's appeal of the commission's ruling and why borough council will continue to appeal.

In its July 2010 report, the commission ordered that Andrekovich be reinstated with the department after council fired him stemming from the Aug. 15, 2009, death of Stephen Obbish, 48, in the back of a borough police cruiser.

Aug. 9, 2010, council voted 5-1 to appeal the commission's order.
Monday, Morris read, "On Dec. 20, a mediation conference was held in Pittsburgh regarding the federal civil action filed by the Obbish family.
"Although this case was defended by the borough's insurance company, PennPRIME, the proposed settlement agreement terms must be upheld by the Borough of Punxsutawney," he read. "The Andrekovich case and the Obbish family case are intertwined.

"One of the terms of the proposed settlement agreement with the Obbish family reads as follows:

"The borough agrees to continue to pursue in good faith the civil service appeal arising from the termination of Detective (Brian) Andrekovich before the Jefferson County Court of Common Pleas and, if necessary and deemed appropriate by Borough Council, on appeal to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.

"Although Borough Council respects Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge John Foradora's opinion in the Andrekovich case, they are obligated to appeal his decision."

After the meeting, council President Susan Glessner said council members did not take a vote because the appeal is part of a ruling in the Obbish family lawsuit settlement.

Foradora wrote in his ruling that the court concurred with the commission's report, in which it said there was insufficient evidence to support the council's reasoning behind firing Andrekovich.

Foradora wrote, "The court, having reviewed the entire record, including the video surveillance DVD, the hearing transcripts, and the exhibits produced at that hearing, agrees that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the charges identified by council in its statement of charges and as further defined in his termination letter," and that "the court agrees that council terminated Andrekovich when there was not sufficient evidence to sustain the charges against him.

"Andrekovich had no forewarning of that result, though, which leaves the court to wonder how council could reach its conclusion when Andrekovich's decisions that day were not proscribed by law, by necessary implication given a police officer's role, or by applicable written policies.

"The court concurs with the commission's report, which, unlike Borough Council's Statement of charges and termination letter, was well supported by the evidence," Foradora wrote.

There was no information about how soon the borough would file its appeal of Foradora's ruling.

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