PUNXSUTAWNEY â€” Punxsutawney Borough Council surprised a number of people when it announced Monday that it would appeal Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge John Foradoraâ€™s ruling on the Brian Andrekovich case.
Foradora wrote in his ruling that the court concurred with a July 2010 Civil Service Commission report that there was insufficient evidence to support the councilâ€™s reasoning behind firing Andrekovich stemming from the August 2009 death of Stephen Obbish, 48, in the back of a borough police patrol car.
Andrekovichâ€™s attorney Chris Cimballa, of the Pittsburgh law firm of Lightman, Welby, Stoltenberg & Caputo, said he and his client were surprised with councilâ€™s decision to appeal Foradoraâ€™s ruling.
â€śI thought this matter was going to end with Foradoraâ€™s ruling,â€ť Cimballa said.
Aug. 9, 2010, council voted 5-1 to appeal the commissionâ€™s order to Foradora.
But Brian Gabriel, of Campbell, Durrant & Beatty, the boroughâ€™s attorney, said he wasnâ€™t permitted to speak about the contents of the mediation between the Obbish family and the borough, as the settlement is still pending.
Monday, borough Solicitor Timothy Morris read this statement at councilâ€™s meeting: â€śOn Dec. 20, a mediation conference was held in Pittsburgh regarding the federal civil action filed by the Obbish family.
â€śAlthough this case was defended by the boroughâ€™s insurance company, PennPRIME, the proposed settlement agreement terms must be upheld by the Borough of Punxsutawney,â€ť he read. â€śThe Andrekovich case and the Obbish family case are intertwined.
â€śOne of the terms of the proposed settlement agreement with the Obbish family reads as follows:
â€śThe 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.
â€śAlthough Borough Council respects Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge John Foradoraâ€™s opinion in the Andrekovich case, they are obligated to appeal his decision,â€ť Morris said.
Gabriel said since there wasnâ€™t a trial, Foradora will not review his own ruling, due to the fact that there arenâ€™t any post-trial motions to be made by the borough or Andrekovichâ€™s attorney.
Gabriel said the appeal shouldnâ€™t take any longer than six months, as Commonwealth Court is usually quick to rule on an appeal.