Arbitrators to settle former Monroeville police chief's dispute
An Allegheny County Judge last week ruled that one part of a three-part lawsuit filed by former Monroeville police Chief Doug Cole be settled out of court.
Arbitration is expected to take place in late May or early June to settle a contractual dispute between Cole and municipal officials, said Michael Colarusso, a Pittsburgh-based attorney who is representing Cole.
When Cole was removed from the police-chief position in February “without cause” by then-interim manager Lynette McKinney, the suit said, Cole should have been appointed as assistant police chief, based on Cole's former contract and the home-rule charter. Cole was assistant chief prior to being promoted to chief.
Cole filed a lawsuit in February against the municipality, a faction of council and the municipal manager. It said that his former contract, the home-rule charter and the Pennsylvania Right to Know Law were violated when Cole was demoted from police chief to sergeant Feb. 1 and in the days leading up to the demotion.
Council members Lois Drumheller, Bernhard Erb, Diane Allison and Clarence Ramsey were named in the lawsuit, in addition to the municipality of Monroeville and McKinney, who was promoted to manager in March.
Attorney Robert Zunich of Plum-based Bruce Dice and Associates filed a preliminary objection last month on behalf of the defendants stating that the contract dispute “which is the subject of this lawsuit” should be submitted to arbitration, based on a section of Cole's former contract as police chief.
Cole's attorney, Michael Colarusso, filed a rebuttal in April and said that the issue of Cole's position on the force is only one part of the lawsuit.
The suit also accuses Monroeville officials of intentionally interfering with contractual relations and violating the Pennsylvania Right to Know law.
Colarusso said this week that the remaining issues will be tried in court.
“This is actually a good thing for us,” Colarusso said.
“We expect Doug to be placed as assistant chief with back pay while we litigate the remaining issues in court.”
Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or firstname.lastname@example.org.